There is so much backwards thinking in that article, but most of it boils down to this: Her premise is wrong. It's not being "poor" that causes people to make bad decisions.
You know that lie that people buy into that if they could just earn more money to buy more things, that *THEN* they'd be happy? She's bought into the same lie. Except that she's also bought into the lie that she can't ever earn enough or save enough to buy more things. Lie A + Lie B = one depressed, hopeless, bad decision-making person. She thinks that money buys happiness, and that because she doesn't have money, she can't ever be happy. So why not go out and blow some of the money you do have on cigarettes?
Except money doesn't buy happiness. And lack of money doesn't mean you can't be happy. And yes, you can change your situation.
For a genealogy project, my son interviewed an elderly relative, in her 80's, about what life was like when she was a child. She was poor. No hot water and her teenage brother picked coal from the mountain in order to heat the house poor. What struck me about that interview was that she kept saying, "We had it good." She talked about homemade candy distributed to neighbors on Christmas eve, community bonfires, running out to see her brother every day when he came home from work. She had a happy childhood.
I know a lot of people in the homeschool community who are living on single incomes, probably incomes comparable to what the author of this article is talking about, so that one parent can stay home with the children full time.
And they're living full, joyful lives.
They cook from scratch, they do their own home repairs, they buy Christmas presents, clothing, and toys used.
And they are happy.
They might not be able to afford vacations, but they take long hikes with their kids, learning about wild edibles, hunt for fossils, and bring along guidebooks in case they run into a plant or insect they don't recognize. They pack lunches and go on bike rides. They lay out under the stars with their kids and talk way into the night. They make their own playdough and spend hours making playdough train tracks and snakes and tunnels out of cardboard boxes that they push their cars and trains through.
They might not be able to afford cable tv, but it hardly costs anything to pop their own popcorn (air popped, not microwave bags--they're too expensive and not very healthy, either) and watch movies together, read a book as a family, or play Monopoly.
Because giving their children an awesome life is a priority, they don't go to a bar when they get an extra ten bucks. Instead, they save for a zoo membership or a children's museum membership so they can take their kids somewhere cool as many times as they want.
Sure, they get tired. Because even if their family membership lets them go to the zoo for free, zoo food is expensive! So mom stays up late the night before baking homemade bread to make low-cost, healthy sandwiches. She fills bottles and canteens with water and catches up on laundry so they have enough clean laundry to pack extra clothes. Almost every time she sits down to watch a movie, she's peeling potatoes or apples while she watches. Dinner takes twice as long to make because she has little helpers, and she considers food prep time to be a valuable learning experience and bonding time for her and her children. She spends time preparing healthy snacks instead of buying processed junk food, not only because junk food is expensive, but because she knows it's not good for her children and knows that in the long run, in can mean more trips to the doctor's office, which are expensive and can be often avoided by a healthy lifestyle.
I feed 7 people in my home for $250 a month. I cook almost everything from scratch and shop at surplus stores. I know I'm not the only one. I also know there are some doing it for less than I am. Yet I have noticed when I go into the homes of some of those very low-income people, the food in the oven makes their homes smell like heaven. And their kids are laughing and playing and they've spent all day with their mom and they are *HAPPY*.
I have no idea what the side rant about the roaches in this article is all about. I am cooking and preparing food all the time. Dishes are constantly being washed, but very rarely are all dishes caught up, because as soon as one project stops another one starts. Yet we don't have bugs. Not even when dirty dishes sit in the sink overnight. Yes, you have to do your dishes. But if you're cooking as frugally as possible, you will have to do the dishes because you'll need them to be clean in order to start the next project. No, cooking does *NOT* attract roaches. If you really do have roaches, you need to find the source and get rid of it, then do some deep cleaning. No, it's not hopeless and yes, you can get rid of them. Sure, it will take a ton of hard work, but it can be done. Just like you can create an awesome life for yourself.
Yes, I know many of our poor are single mothers. I'm not saying it doesn't suck to be a low-income single mom trying to do it all yourself: Earn a living, make a home, be a mother. All by yourself. Even if you're not a single mom, what is up with parents saying, "Well, now you're 18, and you're on your own! We're not responsible for you anymore. Good luck! I struggled when my babies were little and now you will too! Ha ha!" (Please, when you find yourself a grandparent, think back to how hard it was to be a young parent. Every parent and their children can benefit from much attention and help from truly GRAND parents. Be grand.)
This is why we live in a multi-generational home. So that my daughter who is a single mother of two doesn't have to go to work and leave her kids with strangers and see them only an hour a day, just to barely afford to pay her bills and keep food on her roach-infested table. My daughter did one semester of college and even though she had straight A's, when she saw how high her student loans were going to be, she quit. She doesn't want to go to college and then be obligated to work in order to pay loans off. Because working means not spending all day with her kids, and that's not what she wants. It's not what I want for her. Or for my grand kids. She is instead working on developing her online thrift storeso she can stay home with them. Sure, she could go out and get a part time job. But she saves as much as she'd earn by staying home and breastfeeding, cloth diapering, shopping frugally, helping with food prep, and doing cool projects with her kids.
If you're going to college and working two jobs and only seeing your kids an hour a day, something needs to give. Consider whether that college debt is really worth it. Consider whether you could quit one of those jobs and save as much or more than you earn at that job. And for heaven's sake, you don't need to have taken Home Ec to know how to cook. You google what you need to know, you search pinterest, you go to the public library and you check out cookbooks, you go to sites like What I Didn't Buy Today. Because you're not helpless and your situation isn't hopeless.
The "helpless and hopeless" and "I'm poor so I can't buy crap so therefore I can't have a happy life" victim mentality is the problem. So is the "If someone doesn't take me by the hand and show me what to do, I won't figure it out for myself" mentality. Not how much money you have. Because you can take any situation and find joy in it. You can make the best of any situation.
Actually, she sums it up in the article herself. "You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It's more basic than food."
Except here's the flaw in that thinking: Worthwhile is not dependent on having money. You are worthwhile because you're alive. Go celebrate that fact by taking your child outside and going dandelion hunting. Did you know you can eat dandelions? They're highly nutritious. Coat them in pancake batter and fry them. Make dandelion chains. Put some in a small glass for a pretty centerpiece on the table. Make a salad from the greens. And if you must drink, make dandelion wine.
Life is good. With or without a lot of money.