Back in Buffalo, there’s a lot of hype about this little experiment where politicians try to live on a poverty wage for 2 days.
Two days – and they fail. Two days where there’s no utility worker turning you off. Two days with no real danger of losing your home. Did these people see foreclosure papers? Face mounting medical bills because they lacked health insurance? I know they weren’t forced to wait in line at the local food pantry to fill in what the budget wouldn’t allow. That they didn’t have to skip holidays because they got too expensive. They didn’t cringe when they opened the mailbox.
I realize I didn’t have it too bad. We were two people living on a little less than a grand a month. To some people, that’s a lot more than they have. But when we were hit with my husband’s job loss, then my cancer diagnosis, it was just too much. We couldn’t feasibly move, and we had a rent of almost $700 a month. Medications were astronomical, and while we eventually found some help, through Gilda’s club & my docs, we still had a ton of medical bills. We made too much money per month to get help with our utilities or to qualify for any kind of assistance. Our families were not in a financial position to help us and we were running out of options.
We sold everything we could, we turned off our cable, phone, internet. All luxuries were gone. We didn’t buy much in groceries, didn’t go out. We drove one clunker into the ground and replaced it with the junk we have now. It was rough, but we survived. So many others don’t. Our marriage, well, suffice to say it did suffer from the strain. We got as close as I ever want to get to poverty.
I think “experiments” like this are insulting to those who have lived in a poverty like state.