January 8, 2014

The poverty line was originally designed...

... with the assumption that a family would have a "housewife" who is "a careful shopper, a skillful cook, and a good manager who will prepare all the family's meals at home."

187 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

given that the poor seem to be able to afford cell phones, multiple HD TV's, computers, cars, appliances, high speed internet, and designer tennis shoes, perhaps the market basket and expectations are skewed in other ways as well...

Lord Ben said...

Just as assumptions like this change so does the food technology. There are reasonably priced boxed alternatives towards making homemade stuffing for example. Fresh food from all corners of the globe can be found at your local WalMart or whatever all times of the year.

Just as assumptions about "the housewife will be a careful shopper, a skillful cook, and a good manager who will prepare all the family's meals at home.” get outdated do does the price of food.

What % of the Poverty level did they assume was spent on meals then? What would it be now?

My Grandpa used to grill burgers, apart from that he'd starve if he had to make his own meals. I cook ~90% of my families meals.

SOJO said...

Do you know why Trader Joe's pays relatively high wages?

The founder of TJ's originally saw that a lot of americans were being educated beyond the economy's ability to support them, so he targeted them with relatively cheap eats for the educated class living under reduced circumstances, if you will.

Then he made a promise that he would meet the median *household* income - when women started to work in the 70s/80s, that number went straight up because there were now two earners in the household. He decided to meet it anyway instead of moving the goal posts.

The German Co. that bought the mostly kept the standard and it seems to have worked out. Now their CEO is dead, so we'll see.

Gahrie said...

1) A much more useful standard would be standard of living rather than poverty. The standard of living for our poor is better than the middle class in most of the rest of the world, largely due to transfer of wealth from the top 10% to the bottom 50%.

2) Most of today's social ills (education, poverty, crime,) can be tied directly to the destruction of the American family. This destruction was accelerated by misguided government policies that gave women a financial incentive to kick their men out.

YoungHegelian said...

Well, no doubt about it --- if no one knows how to cook from basic ingredients, the cost for food will skyrocket, since it's all going to be prepared in some fashion (bought out or packaged).

I remember having an exchange with either Synova or DBQ on this very topic. She (which ever it was) had mentioned that the fact that very few of the recipients at her church's food charity knew how to cook sometimes made it difficult to give them food aid.

Lurking unstated in our present-day notion of "the deserving poor" is a tolerance for an utter cluelessness that earlier generations would have seen as an offense to basic human dignity.

garage mahal said...

Lord knows you're struggling.

Gahrie said...

Lurking unstated in our present-day notion of "the deserving poor" is a tolerance for an utter cluelessness that earlier generations would have seen as an offense to basic human dignity.

For the most part the underclass today rejects such concepts as "dignity" or "shame". There is no right or wrong, good or bad. The very act of judgement is an offense.

It is all about getting ahead, in any way possible, especially "government money".

SOJO said...

I don't get all this bitching about cell phones and "the poor". That's often their ONLY phone, you know. It's a necessity especially today. How can you compare a cell, shoes, or even an idiotic, gig-normous TV to real estate, a home, stability, and healthcare? You can't.

A cell or overpriced shoes, made on the cheap, benefiting the bottom line of corporations that have outsourced jobs, are what a person buys when they know they can't afford the other - EVER.

It's depressing, yes, but not because the line drawn in the sand is wrong. Maybe if they stopped chasing cheap and momentary gratification, they'd have enough energy to organize and become a real threat instead of the drugged consumers of media and branding.

Gahrie said...

That's often their ONLY phone, you know

The original program was designed to provide essential phone service for the poor. If they return the program to its roots, and eliminate cell phones, no one would have a problem. You can make an argument that phones are essential, but not cell phones.

Christy said...

I don't know about the data that went into the poverty line calculation, but I do remember when big box stores became popular in the 80s maybe, the cost of living index was redone to account for people getting their food from Sam's Club instead of the neighborhood grocery.

Edmund said...

A former family member was a regulation writer for food stamps. Once he showed me some of the guidance pamphlets they had (back in the 80s) for recipients. It was heavy on chicken, beans, and rice for meals. Not much beef or pork. Most food was to be made from scratch.

John Lynch said...

If you have a housewife like that you won't be poor.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Apparently the correct assumption today is that the mother is not a careful shopper, cannot cook, is a poor manager, and is incapable of preparing a meal for her children.

This is the culture that the war on poverty has given us.

Cliff said...

This is something that should be talked about more frequently by bloggers and activists from all sides of the spectrum. We have outdated thresholds driving inefficient spending.

Original Mike said...

Lot of interesting numbers in a WSJ editorial today. For example, "current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to elimainate all official poverty in the U.S."

n.n said...

The dignity of a housewife was grossly maligned in order to execute a feminist revolution.

Did anyone else notice while secretaries were renamed to assistants, the most powerful men and women at the UN, at NATO, in the Communist party, in the cabinet, etc., retained their secretarial titles?

Birches said...

Apparently the correct assumption today is that the mother is not a careful shopper, cannot cook, is a poor manager, and is incapable of preparing a meal for her children.

When I was little we lived off of beans, rice, oatmeal, and tortillas. We were poor, but didn't qualify for food stamps. So we had to cook smart. BTW, my mother worked full time and she still managed to get a pot of beans going in the morning. . .

Birches said...

I don't get all this bitching about cell phones and "the poor". That's often their ONLY phone, you know. It's a necessity especially today. How can you compare a cell, shoes, or even an idiotic, gig-normous TV to real estate, a home, stability, and healthcare? You can't.

For many of us who do without cell phones and cable (but have managed to parlay that into real estate and savings), its frustrating to know that others could be in a better situation if they just changed their habits.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Now, I doubt that the decline of full-time housewives slaving over their stoves ..."

Making a meal is "slaving" over the stove? You can make a good meal from scratch in twenty minutes. How spoiled we've become.

Andy Freeman said...

> very few of the recipients at her church's food charity knew how to cook sometimes made it difficult to give them food aid.

Perhaps the food charity could have held classes in bread baking, etc.

Then again, you'd think that wanting to eat would motivate them to learn on their own.




David said...

They probably imagined a father and a husband too.

Levi Starks said...

On monday when it was snowing hard I made a loaf of bread, and cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I'm a 55 year old man. Of course I had a stay at home mom who taught me a few things all those years ago. Oh yeah, and a dad who taught me how to cut and split firewood.

Joe said...

The amount of time required to fix meals in the 50s and 60s was much higher than it is today.

Alex said...

These days "housefraus" buy dinner at McDonald's.

Kirk Parker said...

Gahrie,

"For the most part the underclass today rejects such concepts as 'dignity' or 'shame'."

Close, but no cigar. What the underclass doesn't have is middle class concepts of dignity or shame. Get in some underclass person's personal space and you'll see what I mean. Look at an underclass woman's bosom a little too directly when she's out strolling with her man, and you'll see what I mean.

Gahrie said...

Kirk:

That's not dignity or shame, but rather power and dominance.

Carl Pham said...

Slaving over a stove? A housewife might've had to slave over a stove...if it was wood-fired and she was cooking for twelve, and she had to chase the turkey down, whack its head off with an axe, pluck, draw, stuff and bake it. In short, if we're talking 1860s Kentucky or 1830s Richmond.

How many minutes of actual labor does it take to roast a loin and potatoes, fry some chicken or hamburgers and chop up a salad, or throw some spaghetti sauce from a jar into a pot and stir in a little fresh tomato, for your modern family of 3.6? Forty, maybe? Ooo, slavery!

Stuff like this cements the reputation of the modern beta journo as a wooden-headed dork.

Alex said...

Gahrie - you mean the threat of violence.

tim maguire said...

The poor are poor because of decisions they made about how to run their lives. That doesn't mean it's their fault and it doesn't mean they shouldn't be helped, but it does mean you can't help them by simply giving them money.

It's been a long time since we've really examined what it means to be poor, what sort of minimum standard of living we should aim for. Income inequality is a ruse, a distraction. Instead we need to look at what skills are needed to maintain an independent life.

As pointed out here and elsewhere, many poor lack many of the basic skills of living. Any anti-poverty program that fails to encourage the poor to learn those skills are not anti-poverty programs, they are just anti-starvation programs.

The reality is, welfare today serves the same purpose as religion in the middle ages--it keeps the peasants from grabbing their pitchforks and rushing the castle. It helps the wealthy who complain so much about paying for it far more than it helps the poor.

Mary said...

If they return the program to its roots, and eliminate cell phones, no one would have a problem. You can make an argument that phones are essential, but not cell phones.
---
Making a meal is "slaving" over the stove? You can make a good meal from scratch in twenty minutes. How spoiled we've become.
----
If they return the program to its roots, and eliminate cell phones, no one would have a problem. You can make an argument that phones are essential, but not cell phones.
------------------

You guys can be clueless, even the catholics.

Cell phones are needed now, because the younger poor don't have 'fixed addresses' so much. They need to be able to be reached at a moments notice if there is temp work available, not checking a machine at the house 3 days later when they come 'home'.

The 40-minute homemade meal also assumes the suv in the garage and grocery around the corner for a 10-min. shopping trip, lotsa room inside for pantry storage, more than one cooking pans and tools like good knives, utilities on to the oven/fridge/freezer, time to prep/stir/check -- sure helps if you're working at home for that.

Moose said...

So, Ann. What's your punchline here?
"Housewife" "skillful cook" "good manager"?
Does the whole of society need to be structured around single moms?
I assume that's the point of the article.

JoyD said...

My mother is 87 and living on social security and also on the interest from savings after a lifetime of frugal living. Those interest rates, as you know, have been reduced to 1or2%. Her social security has seen a cost of living increase in the past years of 0%, yes, zero. This year, 1%. Just to add a pinch of salt, she heard recently that Obama wants to raise food stamp recipients by 30%. Of course she heard it from Rush, so we don't know how true it is. He's the king of bloviating hyperbole, intentionally misleading and riling up his audience ( my worried old mama)
Don't respond about Rush...please.
What rankles with me is the media's labeling of social security as an Entitlement, and working up resentment toward old people for this Handout. That is OUR OWN money, taken from our pay checks since we were 16 years old.

Mary said...

look, crockpots are great and yes, plenty of poorer people cook up a storm on the weekends when they are not working...

but too m77*any of you briung your trust fundj, muiddle cla7*ss a7*ssumptuions wiuth you when you fa7*nt7*a0siz0e a7*bout how you'd be such a7*n effiucuient poor person.

drop all your resources and capital advantages and start with nothing but the food check. no security means you can't afford to plan out meals days in advance if you don't know where you'll be then... you buy daily and think about meals in the present -- how you can keep the food with you, like with the cell.

you can't hop in the suv to shop the sales,but buy the day you get transportation to the store and have the money in the account, and it might not be the most competitive priced but the nearest.

it can be done. plenty of poor do but iut costs some of them gre7*atly a7*nd they sa7*crifiuce themselves for others iun the group.

plenty of trust fund baby advice here, and bragging on our sainted mothers' beans, instead of applauding those poor who really do make it out... it is hard work.

some of you and yours would not last 6 months if you lost your jobs and inherited advantages and ate only off your practical employable skills...

Mary said...

How many minutes of actual labor does it take to roast a loin and potatoes, fry some chicken or hamburgers and chop up a salad, or throw some spaghetti sauce from a jar into a pot and stir in a little fresh tomato, for your modern family of 3.6? Forty, maybe? Ooo, slavery!
---------

here's your food c7*ardj, the bus ius comuing iun 20 muinutes to take you to the biggest cheapest store in town to buy all you can carry... you'll not have time to make the trip again until you're off next week.

you also need to pick up a saucepan to cook in -- the crockpot was lost in the move, no room to carry it and you can't buy a new one right now...

remember with one pot that you're limited to one burner on the stove and the old oven eats up the electricity so can't run that too long... bake a lot at once in there.

cold leftovers, cans, and small thermos help save, but sometimes you can't carry food in and have to buy smaller quantities when they're needed. no sundays on the couch with the kids studying the food store competitive pricuing sales either...

rehajm said...

remember that the stats we use in that conversation are almost never as simple or straightforward as they seem.

This is also a challenge when looking at income data used to promote programs targeting inequality.

Kelly said...

My sister has four children. Her husband is an accountant and they feed a family of six on 130.00 a week. My sister cooks everything from scratch, her husband does all the shopping, follows a list and uses coupons. They also go in with family members to buy a cow.

I think back to my early married days when my husband was a young E4 in the Army. We had one child. Every two weeks on pay day I would pay the bills, go to the commissary and buy two weeks of groceries which would run around a hundred dollars. I also cooked everything from scratch. My treat was to take my toddler to McDonalds where we'd split a happy meal.

Apparently many poor people don't know how to plan meals or cook. They go for convienance foods.

gadfly said...

The Atlantic article is wrong. Although the Council of Economic Advisers, gained access to the work of Social Security Administration economist Mollie Orshansky, who developed two sets of poverty thresholds based upon a USDA economy food plan for families and a less stringent plan for single folks, "the $3,000 [poverty] figure was a consensus choice based on consideration of such factors as the minimum wage level, the income levels at which families began to have to pay Federal income taxes, and public assistance payment levels" because Orshansky's studies had not yet been published.

Mary said...

it would be like composing missives on a laptop with a broken keyboard...

sure, it can be done.
but it takes time and is challenging.

cook the meal in 20 minutes, but do it first with the resources the poor and newcomers have -- then laugh at how easy it is.

don't tell us how easy it is for you, with the resources your parents passed on, that you take for granted daily.

few self-made people laugh at the struggles of the truly poor.

MadisonMan said...

Slaving over a stove -- I wonder who originated that phrase.

When I cook -- I love cooking -- it's a joy and a great release of stress.

I realize that some people might not find it enjoyable. Including, apparently, a journalist or two from way back when who had an axe to grind about working over a stove. The question is: What was their intent in coining the phrase?

Mary said...

in short,
start from scratch.

Mary said...

'When I cook -- I love cooking -- it's a joy and a great release of stress.'

-----

please read my comments quickly here...

they are relevant, really.

Mary said...

imagine if you could not speak or read english too and had to c7all one of the kids into the small kitchen every time you needed help reading the food instructuions or recipe la7bel...

probably can't get the same food staples here as at home...

even if you could ask the clerk and communuicate by reading better. that literacy lesson is on thursday nights and this is tuesday and your family needs to eat when they get off work...

Mary said...

does anyone remember sweet cleo huxtable telling his father how he could make it himself alone in the world with very little money...

cliuff kept counteriung with realistuic siutuations working people face, and that paycheck money kept slip slip slipping out of his hands. really.

never quit trying.worse thing you can do is slip up and go for the temporary numbing of booze, smokes or cheap tunes or pleasures. that can make a baby...

Mary said...

freeman,

how do you get companies to send you free computer stuff to review and test?

CStanley said...

At first I was heartened to think that someone was having an epiphany- recognizing that we've lost a great resource for lifting people out of poverty- namely, the nuclear family with one adult dedicated to home economics.

But sadly, no, this author is mocking the fact that assistance used to be adequate based on the existence of such family structures.

Mary said...

They also go in with family members to buy a cow.
------

*sometimes city people can find someone selling cheap steaks or protein out of the trunk of a car.

but you never know if the meat is good, if it's stolen and not just bulk discount, and it's not like you happen to be walking down the street when the investment opportunity arises...

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know how you would get companies to do that generally. Google sent me a laptop once because I filled out their online form to be a beta tester. I don't know what their selection criteria was.

Rusty said...

so. After spending all that money, why are there still poor people?
It's almost like the "War on Poverty" was never intended to help the poor.

Henry said...

I very much appreciate Mr. Weissman's humble, anticlimactic conclusion.

Mary said...

Oh, it was just the once.

I thought you might be on their test product lists, like instapundit.

I got a

cheap new keyboard that attaches to this laptop, which is messed up as you type one letter and get 12 and have to go back and delete.

I'm hoping it's the hardware and not a bug. thx for the reply; we all count our blessings and it's not as easy for all as you make it seem, casually judgemental.

being nice and kind -- good w/people -- would help, i guess, but i went the route of education and developing my skills. it toughened me, but not so sure it paid off as sometimes it really is easier for women to stay home and partner up than try to go it alone. takecare.

Freeman Hunt said...

My judgement was on the writer for characterizing cooking a meal as "slaving," not on poor people.

Hagar said...

The "poverty line" has been, and always will be, designed to justify Democrat programs to attract votes for their party, and for no other reason.

pduggie said...

"Apparently the correct assumption today is that the mother is not a careful shopper, cannot cook, is a poor manager, and is incapable of preparing a meal for her children.

This is the culture that the war on poverty has given us."

well, the war on poverty may have helped the low-hanging fruit of people who could manage their lives well but were poor, and left us with the hard-to-reach fruit of the mostly incompetent.

Mary said...

Making a meal is "slaving" over the stove? You can make a good meal from scratch in twenty minutes. How spoiled we've become.
...
My judgement was on the writer for characterizing cooking a meal as "slaving," not on poor people.
---------

guess I read too much into the second and third lines. I don't consider myself spoiled, but I'd struggle to regularlyplunk down a 'good meal' for the family in 20 min.

maybe you are underestimating your skills.

Mary said...

or your resources 'from scratch'.

SGT Ted said...

The Drill SGT blows up the contentions that the poooooor cannot possibly feed themselves on what they get from the rest of us.

I was on food stamps for about 3 months in the 1980s in the Bay Area. I ate very well. I bought fresh food and learned how to cook. There's nothing more motivating than knowing you will eat well.

People that claim they cannot afford fresh food with their food stamps and/or won't learn how to cook and manage a kitchen budget using those dollars are not trying very hard. They are being lazy, in fact.

SGT Ted said...

...slaving over their stoves...

OH< THE HUMANITY! TO HAVE TO COOK YOUR FAMILY SOME FOOD IS SUCH OPPRESSION!! SOMEONE GET THE UN HUMAN TRAFFICKING COMMITTEE ON THIS RIGHT AWAY!

Little did I know that I was a slave for 20+ years cooking for my family. While holding a fulltime job, plus hobbies.

Mary said...

This thread reminds me of when Clint Eastwood gave the basic tools to that Hmong kid in Detroit. The kid had trouble holding on to them in that neighborhood under tough circumstances. the moms made the food, plenty of it and it was tough -- but not the food. that was not 20 minute food either.

cmon... so many people here liked that movie/film.

'well that's one thing we've got.'

Mary said...

*baking a cake for sgt, who obviously needs a medal for his special sacrifices and skills *

Fen said...

Apparently the correct assumption today is that the mother is not a careful shopper, cannot cook, is a poor manager, and is incapable of preparing a meal for her children,...

... and is not even responsible enough to know who her baby-daddy is for kid 3 and kid 5.

Mary said...

SGT Ted said...
Little did I know that I was a slave for 20+ years cooking for my family. While holding a fulltime job, plus hobbies.
-----

wow, and they let you keep your penis too? life is good.

;-a7*)
just joshin'
it's a hobby of mine.

Hagar said...

It is illegal for politicians to give, or promise to give, their own, or Party donors', money to people in exchange for votes, but government money is just fine, which is why the definition of "poverty" will continue to expand, and furthermore, be targeted to populations most likely to vote Democrat.
Thus, in these days, when "social values" are so important, poverty programs promise free cell phones and flat-screen TV's for the urban "poor," while the backwoods poor in "red" states, clinging to their guns and Bibles, can go fish for clean water or school houses to teach the "3-R's."

Mary said...

... and is not even responsible enough to know who her baby-daddy is for kid 3 and kid 5.
---------


Fen,
it's... you.

*(sung/said to the tune of eminem's ending in 'stan'.)

the taxpayer, right?

SGT Ted said...

Mary is showing her cluelessness, while also showing us how people mindlessly buy in to stupid arguments about how a poor person is not capable of doing what any of us do every day.

It really tells us more about how Mary views the poor; she is quite comfortable in thinking of them as utter dunderheads unable to shop thrift stores for way cheap, used pots and pans and utensils. Or even shop for food.

Every cheap discount food store has even cheaper kitchen tools. I could do a basic kitchen outfit with about 40-60 dollars. I know that because I have done it in the past.

I've seen what the "poor' buy with their EBT cards. Far too may of them are wasting money on overly expensive processed crap, so they don't have to be bothered to cook anything when they get home.

Mary said...

poverty programs promise free cell phones and flat-screen TV's for the urban "poor," while the backwoods poor in "red" states, clinging to their guns and Bibles, can go fish...
--------

*check your stats and know your storyline.*


in predominantly rural areas, these social programs-- including disability for the young obese white 'families' -- has skyrocketed. plenty of 'free' cell phones and family/child benefits for farmer folk here, even when the family might have land or plenty of capital in the extended generations.

ie/ the girl is expecting, the couple doesn't marry, the grandparents don't have to step up as primary providers because the girl herself qualifies as indigent to the state. then the parents of the poor couple -- the grands -- can use the money not helping pay the basics, to gift some of the luxuries.

it's like wondering why frugal bragging hard workers all their lives have indigent 87 year old parents relying on the state so much for their 'basics', while still enjoying the extended capital in the family you've built up and passed on.

it's all in how you structure it really, but the state is ingrained in rural areas and they take just as much, the 'rooted' families in terms of writeoffs and special setaside programs like CRP, getting paid to let your land sit fallow for a period of time in conservation... before you double benefit by waiting and selling it to developers, when/where possible.

the govt. 'help' goes especially to those with capital wealth accumulations to protect. you just probably take it for granted.

SGT Ted said...

few self-made people laugh at the struggles of the truly poor.

I am self made. I was thrown out of the house at age 20 with a GED and a huge helping of Clueless. I was homeless for a short time.

I don't laugh at the poor, but I also don't accept bullshit arguments about how what they get in food aid isn't enough to live well on.

Fen said...

"buy in to stupid arguments about how a poor person is not capable of doing what any of us do every day."

Disagree. Poverty is mostly the result of bad habits.

Peter said...

"The original program was designed to provide essential phone service for the poor. If they return the program to its roots, and eliminate cell phones, no one would have a problem. You can make an argument that phones are essential, but not cell phones."

The "Lifeline" program was extended to cellphones when they became less expensive than landlines. The price of a basic landline varies depending on local regulation of the legacy phone company, but overall I think you'd be surprised at how high it is. Whereas a Tracfone plan can be bought for less than $10. per month. As far as I know if someone has a nice cellphone with a big data package it's not funded by taxpayers.

"These days "housefraus" buy dinner at McDonald's."

There are those who claim fast-food is less expensive than prepared-from-scratch, but unless one is buying only one meal the fast-food is far more expensive (dried beans, a cheap cut of meat, some potatoes and one can eat for most of the week.) My experience here is old, but when I received food stamps the award was so high it was just impossible to spend all of them without buying some costly luxury foods.

What annoys me about the food-stamp (SNAP) debate is that invariably someone will "prove" that the award is stingy by finding out the average amount of the award and then trying to live on it. The error is that food stamps in practically all states do not have a sharp cutoff. In Wisconsin if your household income is below $X then food stamps are expected to pay for all your food needs, but above $X and up to $2X the award decreases linearly.

Since there are more households between $X and $2X than below $X, the average is skewed upwards. Yet for households with income more than $X, food stamps are not expected to be a supplement, not to pay the whole thing.

So overall I suspect food stamp awards are higher than necessary (and yes, 'Mary,' you can buy pots and pans at a thrift store. Vincent de Paul will give them to you if you can't afford to buy them.) I suppose food stamps could be restricted to buying what can be bought with WIC, yet people will still sell them for cash and just because mommy is getting adequate food stamps doesn't mean her children will actually be fed.

Which leads to the obvious: can Uncle Sugar ever hold recipients responsible for anything? Surely an anti-poverty program that requires recipients to put in as much effort to remediate their situations as those who pay for it would produce better results?

Mary said...

OK, believe what you want, sgt. ted.

You got me wrong though as I advocate thrift and those who can get out despite obstacles.

I just don't deny the obstacles and understand why plenty of people fail and learn the system as it is encourages clinging make those excuses we both hate.

If I address it in reality, while you deny it's hard even, who is more keeping the status quo as it is? take care you too, no hard feelings b/c you are hard enough, no doubt.

SGT Ted said...

Thanks for the cake, Mary but I tend not to eat sweets either. That helped me save tons of money.

A cake only costs about 2 bucks to make these days.

Jane the Actuary said...

First of all, the "poverty line" is arbitrary -- the rule of thumb is that it's 3 times the USDA-determined cost of food -- but it's pretty difficult to construct any other sort of definition.

Second, there are two meanings to "poverty" -- as in, "war on poverty" or "living in poverty": first, measuring one's actual state of material deprivation (do you live in an unheated shack without running water or electricity, have rags for clothing, and waste away from lack of adequate food?) and measuring the extent to which a person can actually support themselves without being dependent on the government, which is what the current poverty measures measure (since they don't count food stamps, etc., as income). In the US, "poverty" really refers to the latter situation because of safety-net programs, but I imagine that originally, pre-"War on Poverty" the term meant the former, and thus, the War on Poverty was "won" in that sense. (Note to self: I should blog about this.)

Third, on cooking: it's not that hard. You don't need to make a pork roast, or bake your own bread. You don't even need to clip coupons or shop at Costco, though an Aldi would help. There's a clear middle-ground between this and always buying prepared foods or going to McDonalds because it's easier than cooking at home. (And they did a study that "food deserts" are actually also "McDonalds deserts" but it's more convenient to go to a McDonalds than cook.)

Oh, this I did actually write a blog post about: http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2013/10/mmmm-crock-pot-round-steak-with.html

Mary said...

(and yes, 'Mary,' you can buy pots and pans at a thrift store. Vincent de Paul will give them to you if you can't afford to buy them.)
--------------

no duh.
but plenty of moving about families and people -- with no stable housewife in a stable home with stable transportation and a stable lease -- cannot continually access these giveaway charity programs when they happen, and it is funny but there really are more 'thrift' stores in larger wealthier communities -- where the goods come from -- than in the poorer neighborhoods where such goods are well picked over.

madison, wi and college towns, or independent smaller 'cities', are not really the poorer or working class neighborhoods where such resources are located.

god bless those who are indeed thrifty and can accumulate and hold onto good capital like decent dishes, bedding, pans and appliances, etc. etc.

no wonder storage units and moving expenses are so costly, some people get to keeping what they can transport/carry. that divides the mobile and the stable.

and it is not easy. despite what your 6 month being poor experience taught you, or the stories of your college struggles before you found the good stable paycheck, like the military or govt work, or another partner who worked and was stable too.

EMD said...

As long as I can get my Patrón on ...

Mary said...

A cake only costs about 2 bucks to make these days.
-----

does that include the made-from-scratch frosting and the sprinkles and candles too?

and can you put it on the table in 20 minutes, on a nice clean plate?

you go.

SGT Ted said...

Fair enough, Mary. No hard feelings.

You are correct in that assertions about what the poor can or cannot do for themselves, especially when made by Silver Spoon Professionals implying that the poor don't get enough food money, are mostly made from a position of ignorance as to how easy it is to buy fresh food and cook it, rather than buying expensive preprocessed foods.

Mary said...

There's a clear middle-ground between this and always buying prepared foods or going to McDonalds because it's easier than cooking at home.
---------

But it's nice and warm at mcdonalds, you can stay an hour or so and let the kids run around, and it's on the way home.
and they're hungry now.

not sayin' it's right, but can you see why the harried working mother gives in?

SGT Ted said...

No frosting on my cake.

Cake mix .98 cents, 1 cup milk, 1 or 2 eggs.

I'll need 40-50 minutes cook time.

I'm not sure what premade frosting costs. It isn't much.

Brownies even cheaper. Maybe a buck-fifty.

Seeing Red said...

Mary, 1st define "poor" in $ then how many of the poor do you think are homeless?

Mary said...

implying that the poor don't get enough food money, are mostly made from a position of ignorance as to how easy it is to buy fresh food and cook it, rather than buying expensive preprocessed foods.
------------

*We do agree that it is true structural 'fix', not giving out longer unemployment and more in food stamp allowances, that is needed to help poorer working people and those who want to/can work.

Liberal charity programs let us keep the capital in the wrong hands and uphold the status quo.

I don't know one poorer person who made it out who would not work actively to change this current system, and not by doubling down on charity programs to the poor... reall structural change that might open eyes to starting from scratch, and keeping what you made yourself.

gifting can be inefficient if the giftees aren't as skilled and talented as those who made it way back when and had it to gift...

*Fairer playing fields, not special handicaps, would help more also and all of us overall.

Mary said...

oh, and... don't listen to social scientists like David Brooks.

listen to someone with life experience, in reality.

those types never forsee the realistic complications until they arise well past the planning stages... too much networking, not enough basic fix-it skills.

Jane the Actuary said...

You know, everyone who gets food stamps should be given a cookbook at the same time: "101 Fast and Easy Meals" with the basics of cooking from scratch with foods that are readily available (no arugula) and don't require special techniques.

Does such a cookbook exist?

If I had more traffic on my blog, I'd crowdsource a recipe list. . .

Mary said...

SGT Ted said...
No frosting on my cake.

Cake mix .98 cents, 1 cup milk, 1 or 2 eggs.

I'll need 40-50 minutes cook time.

I'm not sure what premade frosting costs. It isn't much.

Brownies even cheaper. Maybe a buck-fifty.
------------------


well, you sure are good at pricing games for a no sweets fella...

Mary said...

Does such a cookbook exist?
---------

*The good old ones are getting musty at the thrift stores, and the working poor don't much check the new apps.

but good luck with that.
the non-working poor can hold it up as an example of how easy their mothers had it, and how easy it is today.

kidding. good luck. recipes need repeating as we lose that generation of 80+ women -- and sometimes men.

Birches said...

They sell pots and pans at the dollar store now. And there are plenty of those within walking distance of most poorer areas.

SGT Ted said...

My wife is a baker and we also keep cake mixes on hand, or brownie mix for an easy and cheap dessert.

So, I notice the prices more than I normally might have when I was single. Back when I was single, I only bought ice crème when I had a dinner date and cooked a meal at home.

Mary said...

Mary, 1st define "poor" in $ then how many of the poor do you think are homeless?
--------

*well I can't really do that until you define homeless.
or home.

assumes-- working stove and fridge? longterm lease/agreement where you are there awhile? other people who stay the same in a place with you? or just the same place with maybe the people changing? access to easy transportation out?

Seeing Red said...

Mary, are you suggesting there are food deserts?

Mary said...

And there are plenty of those within walking distance of most poorer areas.
------
really?
it can be 15 miles into town some places, and there's a lot of poor in the bedroom communities now too.

no dollar stores on every corner, or st vincent depaul thrift help. but you can see those big steeple from miles around and very often there can be good help there.

Jane the Actuary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seeing Red said...

I already told you. Define poor.

I come from families in which both sides were poor, 1 pair of shoes at a time, no toys, no indoor plumbing Depression-era poor.

So if you really want to go this route, we can.

Jane the Actuary said...

Oh, heck: here's a link: what are your go-to recipes?

Mary said...

Mary, are you suggesting there are food deserts?
------

*consider...
there are lonely people at big parties, and hungry people who pass by stores with plenty of good food on the shelves too.

the more you know reality, the less willing you are to accept the cheap well-told sad stories the current media is selling.

some are even sadder, with more realistic details too.

Seeing Red said...

15 miles in the inner city or rural poor?

This is why we establish baselines so we don't talk past each other. I live in suburban Chicago, there are grocery stores closer than 15 miles away. And transportation. They also don't walk uphill each way.

Mary said...

Jane the Actuary said...
Oh, heck: here's a link: what are your go-to recipes?
-------

print out 50 and mail them to the last know address of the 50 poorest people you knew?

that will help.

laminating will help them keep for more than one meal.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem is that the poverty line is primarily political, and is used to push more and more redistribution of wealth. One of its biggest problems is that it does not cover non-monetary benefits that many, if not most, of those below the poverty line are eligible for - because that would push them above the line. So, those below can get Medicaid, Food Stamps, ObamaPhones, EIC, etc, and these are not typically counted towards their income.

Seeing Red said...

And get ready for more poor once the minimum wage hike goes through.

Seeing Red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seeing Red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

laminating the reipes
not the poor people who are just bad and lazy cooks.

heh

Jane the Actuary said...

Oh, crap. You need to know that the official definition of food deserts plays games with urban/rural/poor/non-poor definitions.

See http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2013/07/new-topic-food-deserts.html

(sorry, no hmtl coding to get this to appear as a link; spending too much time on this already)

for some explanation.

Seeing Red said...

One of the reasons people stay poor is because of government rules.

Which the middle class is about to find out because of Obamacare.

It's going to suck to be married and make over about $95K/yr. Blue states hardest hit, but they voted for this.

Mary said...

Seeing Red said...
And get ready for more poor once the minimum wage hike goes through.
----

*it's always the workers who make just a bit more than minimum, and just a bit more than mortgage help/govt program help, who try to be responsible about their family planning and pay as they go, that seem to get missed in the liberal govt charity programs where the elite choose the 'deserving' poor who will benefit by these programs...

those who don't qualify then get asked to help give a little bit more themselvese because there's not enough voluntary charity from the rich elite to finance their big helping plans.

*and so it goes, on and on, until there is structural change in these programs.

Seeing Red said...

No, Mary, it's the union contracts. It's the dock worker, the government worker, the automotive worker whose pay will increase because the minimum wage gets bumped.

Italy owns Chrysler now, by all means, make America more uncompetitive.

Mary said...

*I live in suburban Chicago, there are grocery stores closer than 15 miles away.
----------

bet you're not in the south suburbs, like harvey, dolton or chicago heights.

bet you don't shop the quality of food they get in the stores there.

any dominicks close recently near you?

or are you in the gentrified whole foods/trader joes/upscale thrift shops that get plenty of donations as people clean their closets? we're more segregated than you think... despite what you might driveby on metra or the expressways daily.

Seeing Red said...

Some economists are already discussing national income for all citizens due to the robots & productivity surge.

It's coming Mary. Just because one gets a lump sum doesn't mean one still won't be "poor."

Seeing Red said...

Yes, the 1 I can walk to did.

BTW, I spent time in those areas as a kid as well as the south side of Chicago. After the riots.

Mary said...

Seeing Red said...
No, Mary, it's the union contracts. It's the dock worker, the government worker, the automotive worker whose pay will increase because the minimum wage gets bumped.
-------------------

I'm thinking of the non-union working woman, who will see no pay increase, but will see things tagged on to her own bills for the charitable programs to the poor that everyone must share, or the person who is now paying more in premiums for less to help cover the poor, who is not elite rich themselves.

don't kid yourselves.
the liberal rich reward the 'ok i will settle' poor at the expense of the workers with little capital in the middle.

when the game is fixed, some lose for others to win.

Seeing Red said...

Socialism kills, free markets feed.

Once again, that lesson will be learned the hard way.

Mary said...

The era of gesture liberalism

George F. Will

From Obamacare to the minimum wage, liberals’ new causes may be more amusing than consequential.

it will just keep going this way until we have structual change. do you think the freeman hunts or anybody at meadehouse and sons wants that?

Seeing Red said...

If she hasn't already been brought down to under 24 hours a weeks due to Obamacare, she just might lose her job with the coming increase.

Seeing Red said...

We're broke, it doesn't matter what they want.

Mary said...

I spent time in those areas as a kid as well as the south side of Chicago. After the riots.
-----

After the riots,
but not 'white flight'
... in those areas.

*I bet.

keep talking. I got a good ear for authenticity, and you're not ringing true so far.

Mary said...

lol, if you are predicting union raises, you are a troll.

you get paid to comment, eh.

'those areas'... after the 'riots'. lol

Seeing Red said...

when the game is fixed, some lose for others to win.


As it's always been.

But America voted for The Chicago Way. This is what they want.

Seeing Red said...

As Insty says:

"They'll turn us into beggars 'cos we'll be easier to please."

You also forget that HHS has that new program breaking up poverty pockets.


Mary said...

As Insty says:

--------

oh insty will be long gone when the shit hits the fan.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Slaving over a stove -- I wonder who originated that phrase.

When I cook -- I love cooking -- it's a joy and a great release of stress.


"Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." --Mark Twain

Birches said...

This is an exercise in futility. Someone will always come up with extraordinary reasons why "our poor creds" are invalid. It's just trolling.

The truth is the elementary school 1/4 mile away from the house I grew up serves free breakfast and lunch during the summer because so many people in the area qualify for SNAP. On the weekends, they'll send you home with a bag of groceries so that the kids will be sure to have something to eat during Saturday and Sunday.

I think that might qualify as knowing about what its like growing up in a poor area. And I think my thoughts on getting out of the situation are valid, since I no longer live there and didn't get out by winning the lottery.

Mary said...

so will limbaugh and ezra klein and the other entertainers.

Mary said...


I think that might qualify as knowing about what its like growing up in a poor area.
---------

Are those really only poor kids that get those free school meals.

or kids of parents who grew up raising them as entitled?

do grandma and granpa live nearby and have plenty of money?

people define 'poor' differently. hunger too.

Seeing Red said...

Yup, I was going to write the same. Baselines must be established because when they're not, the argument keeps getting pulled into subsets.

At this point, my impression was that the overwhelming poor were homeless and wandering.

Mary, this is the way one stays out of poverty, you can look it up, there was a study done and revisited a couple of years ago.

1. Get a HS diploma.

2. Don't get married until after the age of 20.

3. Don't have kids until after marriage.

But that is patriarchal bad, we must now be a nation of Julias.

We had the structure that worked.

Now we're heading for polygamy & polyamory.

Then one must deal with millions of testosterone-laden males with no female mates. Cue China & the Middle East.

Which brings us back to supply & demand................

And round & round we go.

Seeing Red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seeing Red said...

people define 'poor' differently. hunger too


And that's why we need to establish a baseline.


Pre-2007 a lot of poor people defined themselves as "middle class."

If they were immigrants, compared to where they came from, they might have been.

Seeing Red said...

If we're using the hunger definition, I go hungry. It used to be I think missing a meal every 8 days.

The world isn't "hungry" anymore. The world now produces more than 2000 cals a day and people are getting it.

IF they're not, it's because of their government, not because it's not available.

Control the means of production, control the people.



Seeing Red said...

Feed My Starving Children provides a 2800 calorie packet of food.

Thanks, ADM! Because they helped develop or provide it, can't remember.

They were also providing those packets to The Netherlands, go figure.

Gahrie said...

My mother is 87 and living on social security

That is OUR OWN money, taken from our pay checks since we were 16 years old.

If you mom is 87 years old, she finished collecting her contributions long ago, and has been living on other people's contributions since.

Social Security was supposed to be an insurance program, not a retirement program.

Seeing Red said...

Have a nice day, everyone!

Mary said...

no indoor plumbing Depression-era poor.

So if you really want to go this route, we can.
---------

lol.

Great depression was a looong time ago.

*no poor stories to play from recent days, just grandaddys tale of pissing in the shitter outside.

cmon, prove you're the poorest one here. poor stock -- yah. your type earned their government comfort.

Mary said...

1. Get a HS diploma.

2. Don't get married until after the age of 20.

3. Don't have kids until after marriage.

But that is patriarchal bad, we must now be a nation of Julias.

We had the structure that worked.
-----------


*That is zero guarantee anymore.

especially in the areas that are skill dependent and not capital/family stock rich.

once the connections matter more than 'merit', the cycle perpetuates.

Mary said...

oh and the team loses too.

that's what we have now.

Seeing Red said...

Mary, again, this is the Chicago Way & this is what America voted for.

Seeing Red said...

What makes you think I'm talking about a grandparent? I lived in a trailer. Indoor plumbing & we didn't have to share with other families like 1 did. I don't knock people who live in trailer courts. I may end up retired in one.

Seeing Red said...

"Like one parent" did. Compared to where my parents came from that could be considered luxury.

Andy Freeman said...

> That is zero guarantee anymore.

There were never any guarantees.

That said, folks who do stay in school, get married at a reasonable age, stay married, and don't have kids immediately, are far more likely to stay out of poverty than those who do otherwise.

That hasn't changed. What has changed is that fewer people are following the recipe. That's a choice that Mary excuses, a choice which dooms millions of people to a much harder life.

I'll bet that she thinks that she's a good person and that the rest of us are mean.

She's also innumerate. Electric cooking isn't expensive. Electric heating is.

BTW - I've also done the "one pot/knife" cooking thing. And, I didn't have an SUV, a pantry, and so on. Then again, I bought stuff that worked with the resources I had. There's lots of stuff that doesn't need refrigeration.

Seeing Red said...

Just because we post here doesn't mean we all have the same story.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Late to the party, but I think the reason people get worked up over the Obamaphones is because they're NOT cheapy Tracphones from Walmart. You could give someone phone service for about 200 a year, including the phone.

The Obamaphone program costs a lot more than that, and the money is going to telecom cronies.

So... wouldn't it be more efficient to just give every poor person in the US $200 and tell them to buy a tracphone if they need phone service? Or heck, to make it cheaper to manage, just give EVERYONE in the US $200. poof. Everyone can afford a phone, if they care.

Most of our anti-poverty schemes are more about concentrating power with bureaucrats, and giving money and jobs to cronies than they are about solving actual problems.

And that's why conservatives rag on Obamaphones.

Seeing Red said...

Mary, do you think the government anti-poverty programs helped keep the family together or helped break it apart?

For those middle-class married incomes here, your answer is in Obamacare.


If you're 400% above poverty level + 1 cent above to the about $120K/yr range, which is doable in the blue states, will you stay married if it costs you an extra $10K a year?

What about you boomers, you gonna open up the inheritance early so your kids can stay married?

And what about you who want to get married, you gonna run the numbers or are you secure in the knowledge you'll always have company-provided insurance?

Obamacare may fire up another class war. When does it make sense for a company to shed lower-income workers and only provide insurance to those who are at a certain job description or above?

Will Obamacare turn America into a land of independent contractors?

Mary said...

deirdre,
they are cheapy trac phones. not even the flip open ones.

cheapies with 250 min. month.
no rollover

you can pay tracphone if you run out of minutes to buy more. those rollover at the end of the month.

fancy phones are not in lifelink. period. you choose in your state from providers but it is nothing to be envious of.

cheap. just enough to get by.
you don't want it, even if it is... free. don't envy the ppl stuck on these programs, really.

Seeing Red said...

I agree w/Deidre. It's the stimulus on a small scale. If they wanted to spend it on something else, ok no phone.

Mary said...

Seeing Red said...
Mary, do you think the government anti-poverty programs helped keep the family together or helped break it apart?
-----

incentivized dissolution absolutly.

you misread me as a defender.
I am a realist.

Mary said...

When does it make sense for a company to ... provide insurance to those who are at a certain job description or above?
----------
Read the ceo from the abbot pharm. spinoff. abvee.

he answers your questions and speculates about letting employees onto the exchanges.

it won't only be the low-end employees.

Mary said...

Most of our anti-poverty schemes are more about concentrating power with bureaucrats, and giving money and jobs to cronies than they are about solving actual problems.
-------

but the poor people are still better off with the phones than not.

the cycle perpetuates.

Mary said...

What makes you think I'm talking about a grandparent? I lived in a trailer.
--------------
on the south side of chicago. hmm.

the grandparent referred to the joy woman above who is frugal and whose 87 year old mother is living poor.

Mary said...

That said, folks who do stay in school, get married at a reasonable age, stay married, and don't have kids immediately, are far more likely to stay out of poverty than those who do otherwise.

That hasn't changed. What has changed is that fewer people are following the recipe.
-----------------------


The economy has changed.
The economic landscape.

If you don't see it yet in your America, you will.

That's why people are saving.

Mary said...

The old recipe isn't turning out the same results oddly.

It is as if the way the oven works naturally has been tampered with.

The man behind the curtains determines who wins and loses in who gets cake and who gives some of their crumbs to others. mandated.

the man can be black or white or even a woman.

Mary said...

I'll bet that she thinks that she's a good person and that the rest of us are mean.
-------

I think you are soft andy.
not mean.
just soft and clueless outside your own comfort zone.

Mary said...

oh, and working full time to try and hang on to what you already got, however you can...

soft.

Mary said...

BTW - I've also done the "one pot/knife" cooking thing.

-----------

I go camping too.

Do you keep your boots really really clean?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mary-- My family has a cheapy track phone as our cell, so I'm not particularly appalled if that's what we're giving out free. It's perfectly servicible, and if you text instead of call, that's 750 texts a month. We actually have trouble using our minutes up. (Buy 1000 once a year, but have triple minutes)

. If you read the articles, that's not what the Obamaphone program was giving out, AND the companies managing the program were charging the feds a lot more per phone than the cost of a cheapy tracphone.

So, even if the participants GOT cheapy phones, we weren't PAYING cheapy phone rates for them to have those phones. So, again, better just to write everyone a check for the cheapy phones.

Mary said...

Admit the error.
The recipients are getting the cheapy trac phones, the kind you and I buy to put minutes on.

No matter what you read, they aren't fancy phones officially.

take on the programs, not the people who need them now.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jane the Actuary,

You need to know that the official definition of food deserts plays games with urban/rural/poor/non-poor definitions.

Exactly. Why on earth is it OK to be ten miles from a grocery store in the country, but anything over a mile in the city constitutes hardship? If anything, common sense suggests that there is more likely to be public transit in the urban than the rural environment, so that you don't even have to walk the one mile in the city, whereas you might have to walk the ten miles in the country.

As it happens, I do most of the grocery shopping here, and I do it on foot, 2-4 miles round trip, depending on the store. If I had to walk to Winco (maybe four miles each direction) daily, that's be a pain, but it's not impossible.

And it beats when I lived in a place that really could be described fairly as a "food desert," a bit of Emeryville, CA where the corner store was called "Bottoms Up Liquors" and the nearest thing even purporting to sell produce was twenty minutes' walk away, and "purporting" was emphatically the right word.

The moment we moved out, naturally, a Pak 'N' Save was built three blocks away :-(


Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Enh, Blogger ate my last comment. The gist was that SOJO is right about Trader Joe's. There is this bizarre idea (mostly on the East Coast) that TJ's is some sort of gourmet, boutiquey outfit. I remember TJ's when literally everything in the store was dried, canned, bottled, or frozen. None of this hoity-toity "fresh produce" business. You could find more fresh produce (er, for certain values of the words "fresh" and "produce") at the local liquor store than at a TJ's.

That's no longer the case, but it does bear mentioning.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

To Freeman Hunt, MadisonMan, and everyone else who took exception to "slaving over a hot stove," amen. Cooking is (a) not difficult; and (b) fun. Most of what gets eaten around here, I prepare myself. I'm not exactly brilliant at it, but I try.

Working my way now through Carla Snyder's One Pan, Two Plates, which is pretty great if you don't take it too literally. E.g., if something calls for a pile of root vegetables, you don't really need to go out and buy one turnip and two parsnips. The potatoes and carrots you have on hand are fine. The shallot/cauliflower/heavy cream "risotto" is tasty whatever you put on top of it; it doesn't have to be thyme-rubbed salmon. Usw.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Mary,

The recipients are getting the cheapy trac phones, the kind you and I buy to put minutes on.

Speak for yourself. I've never bought a disposable cell phone. Is that common where you live?

Andy Freeman said...

> The old recipe isn't turning out the same results oddly.

Actually, it is. What's changed, as I've pointed out, is the number of people following the recipe, in part because of govt programs make penalize the recipe.

> I think you are soft andy.

I did the "one pot" thing in downtown oakland and east palo alto, the latter during the decade when EPA had the highest murder rate in the US (easily higher than DC's highest).

I've done farm labor as the low-guy on the job and lived in a labor camp where the "hot" water wasn't. (I didn't follow the crops as much as my father.)

Cooking isn't a hard/soft thing,

Andy Freeman said...

>> Most of our anti-poverty schemes are more about concentrating power with bureaucrats, and giving money and jobs to cronies than they are about solving actual problems.
-------

> but the poor people are still better off with the phones than not.

Mary either ignores or is ignorant of the cost of providing those phones. Yes, that cost is actually paid by the poor.

We've pissed-away trillions on the "war on poverty", which has raised the costs paid by the poor, reduced the opportunities available to them, and destroyed the social structures that their predecessors used to make it.

That's what Mary defends.

Mary said...

andy--

settle.
I used to work with poor people. I feel sad for them. I think govt programs disincentivize and reward the wrong choices.

But i understand why the programs -- a free phone today, even a cheap one -- can help someone.

or why someone cant put a from scratch meal on the table in 20 minutes easily.

the system needs reforming.
the poor people who are its victims are not the ones to yell your anger at if you want real change. think bigger.

and be realistic.
hth.

MadisonMan said...

Working my way now through Carla Snyder's One Pan, Two Plates, which is pretty great if you don't take it too literally.

That sounds like a good cookbook.

I've had my fill of cook books, or recipes (I'm thinking Cooks Magazine here) that dirty up four pots, half a dozen bowls, and every spoon and spatula in the house.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

Mary said...
Admit the error.
The recipients are getting the cheapy trac phones, the kind you and I buy to put minutes on.
-----
that was in response to this from dierdre

Mary-- My family has a cheapy track phone as our cell, so I'm not particularly appalled if that's what we're giving out free.


read closer before criticizing me for being thrifty with my personal phone choice. or else you sound like a snob.

Mary said...

I did the "one pot" thing in downtown oakland and east palo alto, the latter during the decade when EPA had the highest murder rate in the US (easily higher than DC's highest).

I've done farm labor as the low-guy on the job and lived in a labor camp where the "hot" water wasn't. (I didn't follow the crops as much as my father.)
------

but...
did you start from scratch and everything you've got came from yours?

sounds like you went 'adventuring'. and survived to tell about it even.

;-a*)

Mary said...

*I bet andy is relying on an old family recipe for his wife's from scratch cooking.

lol.

Alex said...

Oh boy I'm stuffed from that giant lunch I just had. Real gourmet stuff too. However I am against free lunches.

Mary said...

nttawwt, of course.

;-a*)

Mary said...

I'm in, slow cooking beans before tonight's local hockey game...

mmm... it the summer seasonings in the stock that make the meal.

*Can't buy those flavors in your fancy stores.

Mary said...

People who have to brag on their cooking regularly are like those people who have to tell you every time they've read a book.

better to consume as much goodness as you can in the shadows, than to trumpet your accomplishments like it's a rarity.

Mary said...

I've never bought a disposable cell phone.
--------

They are not disposable.
They just don't lock you into a plan.

You pay as you go for what little you need.

*Not for status seekers, obviously.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mary-- I *WAS* criticizing the bloated program, not the idea.

Like I said-- if we're just giving them $200 of Tracphone a year, why not just cut everyone a check for $200 and let them use it to buy a phone if they want, or something else if they prefer? Cutting checks is pretty cheap-- determining eligibility, working with cronies, etc. is what gets expensive.

I'm in favor of simplifying all of these programs and just cutting checks. Let the poor decide if they want a cheap phone or an expensive one, and budget accordingly. Different people value different things.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also, FWIW-- we love our cheapy Tracphone. We've had it for about 5 years (it was old then, it's still old) and it's reliable, cheap and great for making calls. (Not so great for texting because, as an older model, texting is slow an tortuous, but it works when we need it and the irritation factor means we only use it when necessary-- don't waste minutes of frivolous things.

One issue for the poor is that, of course, they probably don't have home internet access--and they're unlikely to realize that you can basically treat your public library as a cost-free home office.

But this is a knowledge issue more than anything--they've grown up in a culture that doesn't recognize that the library is a free resource for networking, job applications, enteratainment and education. For some reason, only middle class people seem to take advantage of the free resources in many communities..

Mary said...

One issue for the poor is that, of course, they probably don't have home internet access--and they're unlikely to realize that you can basically treat your public library as a cost-free home office.

But this is a knowledge issue more than anything
---------

Not here.
they put time limits or the homeless/disabled would sit there playing computer games and coughing all day.

libraries are pretty much community shelters in many places now. good for the poorest of the poor perhaps, not so good for the strivers -- children especially.

bring purell.

Mary said...

*I liked the libraries better myself when they asked you to talk softly because people were reading, and checked out more books than videos/computer games/electronic devices.

Now it's often a place to drop the kids, who think they can run, play legos and let off steam. no playroom at home, I guess.

No parents to stay with them. They are probably working.

Delayna said...

Aren't these anti-poverty programs really just an example of cargo-cultism in the Dems? If you give people a middle-class income, they'll become middle-class.

Wrong. You become middle-class by *acting* like the middle class. And the shallow pop culture actively discourages education and delayed gratification, which are two absolute essentials for achieving/remaining in the middle class.

Mary said...

Cooking is (a) not difficult; and (b) fun. Most of what gets eaten around here, I prepare myself. I'm not exactly brilliant at it, but I try.
------------

I missed the point where you 3 were working poor people.

lol.

I like to cook something new, slowly as a fun hobby, when the woman is here helping clean my bathroom.

cookiung=fun
scrubbing= not so much

plus it's a status kick here to have outside help. sue me.

Mary said...

oh, i confess... i clean my own toilet too.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Mary,

I missed the point where you 3 were working poor people.

So did I. I didn't even realize that there were three people in this household. But, hey, you know best.

My working wages are, in fact, rather lower than what apparently is the absolute rock-bottom "living wage" of $15/hr. Most of what I do is piecework, paid by the word or by the article. In neither case am I making over existing minimum wage given the time expended.

FWIW, an awful lot of poor people make a living cooking.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

MadisonMan,

I've had my fill of cook books, or recipes (I'm thinking Cooks Magazine here) that dirty up four pots, half a dozen bowls, and every spoon and spatula in the house.

Well, I'm a huge Cook's Illustrated fan, but I know what you mean. It does sometimes end up being worth it; all the same, if at the end of the day (or the day after) you're two boss rosemary focaccias to the good, you've still spent an awful lot of time "slaving over" a bowlful of flour, yeast, water, and olive oil.

One Pan, Two Plates is awfully fussy sometimes, which is why I said not to take it too literally. Snyder is fond of root vegetables that I don't normally have on hand; fruit vegetables, ditto. If she says "summer squash," I substitute "zucchini." And so forth. She insists on flat-leaved parsley, for no reason I can see.

But, no, really, it's a terrific book. And she really does hold herself to the "one pan" promise -- a lot of the time you will sorta-kinda-not-quite cook your "protein" through initially, but will put it on a plate while you deal with the veggies, then throw it back in.

Kirk Parker said...


MDT,

I think people who haven't been around both think TJ's is a soul mate of whole foods or something.

The reality is, their stuff is almost always moderately priced (though not Aldi's level). Just in the wine-and-spirits arena, they are nationally if not world famous for their decently-rated Two Buck Chuck, and recently I noticed them selling mid-level name brands of spirits (e.g. Bombay Sapphire) for much less than the local grocery stores or even BevMo are selling it at. And when I say much less I mean on the order of $19 vs $24.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Kirk Parker,

I think people who haven't been around both think TJ's is a soul mate of whole foods or something.


Which is LOL hilarious if you have, as I did, lived in a place where the nearest TJ's was 4 minutes away, and the nearest Whole Foods 3 minutes away. Not in the same category. Not at all.

"Two-Buck Chuck," I am sorry to say, is "Three-Buck Chuck." And there are no spirit sales in OR outside official state vendors.

Kirk Parker said...

Michelle,

" no spirit sales in OR outside official state vendors."

Ouch, you're still stuck in that silly trap? Follow WA's example!

And yeah, two-buck use to be three-buck here ($2.99), all due to the higher wine tax in WA vs CA, but at some point it magically went down to $2.49.

Jane the Actuary said...

Michelle -- use? Are you German or German-speaking, or did this make its way into American idiom without noticing?

Jane the Actuary said...


Oh - for "use" read "usw"

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jane the Actuary,

Nah, "usw." is just a jest between my husband and me. Our field of study is pretty heavily Germanified; there was Musikwissenschaft long before there was "musicology."

(For everyone else: usw. is the German abbreviation for "und so weiter," i.e. "and so forth," i.e. "etc.")

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Added:

My husband once made a parody cover of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS to us), only this one, with the same font and cover style, was the Journal of the American Mold and Fungal Society. Alongside Richard Taruskin's Stravinsky's Warring Mushrooms, And What They Mean was Carl Dahlhaus' Moldprobleme bei Schumann um 1855.

Yeah, it isn't terribly funny unless you know that Taruskin is a Stravinsky scholar, that Stravinsky did write a tiny song roughly translatable as "The mushrooms preparing for war," and that Carl Dahlhaus was basically Musikwissenschaft incarnate.

I forget what the third fungal article on the cover was, but there was one.

Christy said...

This thread popped to mind during the pre-show just now for the Tulsa - Tulane basketball game. They used the metaphor that one player had to buy the groceries, cook the meal, and season it in order to win. Middle class values all the way. But how bizarre?

Andy Freeman said...

> but...
did you start from scratch and everything you've got came from yours?

I started from where I started. What's important is what I did, because that's what determined where I am now.

How do I know? Because folks who started out beside me and had the same opportunities ended up somewhere else.

> sounds like you went 'adventuring'. and survived to tell about it even.

"adventuring"? WTF. I was poor. It wasn't entertainment.

I didn't say "let's try being poor". It was where I started. I didn't want to stay there, so I did things that improved my lot.

Mary's obscene combination of patronizing and low expectations are pretty much the worst evil to inflict on poor people.

But, as I wrote, she thinks that she's a good person (despite what she does) and that we're mean.

Mary said...

I missed the point where you 3 were working poor people.

So did I. I didn't even realize that there were three people in this household. But, hey, you know best.

----------
Christ you are slow...
may I call you dumbelina?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
To Freeman Hunt, MadisonMan, and everyone else who took exception to "slaving over a hot stove," amen. Cooking is (a) not difficult; and (b) fun

you, plus 2 others = 3.
but... the thread is about poor working people on food stamps.

so why, unless your kitchens are working class and your budgets too, do we care about your examples of 20 minute cooking?

freeman is home 24/7

you stay home with the cats and write a fine music column once a month, with augusts off...

madison man works on the uw campus.

are any of you even on food stamps, you bitchy snob? ps. your husband is online too. cute couple, why no kids? you a cat loving lady too busy with her fancy phone and pots to make a baby...

those immigrant ladies would cook, clean, and babymake you under the table... freeman too.

Mary said...

Andy Freeman said...
> but...
did you start from scratch and everything you've got came from yours?

I started from where I started.
------------

lol, ah Andy Andy Andy m'boy,
you started on third base, and got all excited when they congratulated you for hitting a triple, eh?

now you squawk online about how easy it is to make it, and give examples of your adventuring days when you broke free of your personal safety net.

now... you'll have all those stories to tell.
-------

How do I know? Because folks who started out beside me and had the same opportunities ended up somewhere else.

yeah I hear a lot of those trust fund babies crash and burn, coke and porsches do not mix kids.

---------
Mary's obscene combination of patronizing and low expectations are pretty much the worst evil to inflict on poor people.

oh fuck off honey buns.
tell us what fancy magazazine help you keep your body strong. we can't all grow up to play strings.