Some People are So Poor, They Can’t Afford to Get Jobs

One day recently, I was reading through Facebook posts from my friends on my personal Facebook account. Usually, when I’m doing this, “blog post” is not one of the first things I have in mind.

But then, I saw a post where a friend of mine shared an image of a tweet from someone I didn’t even know…

It does sound absurd, that someone could be so poor they can’t afford to get a job. But, as ridiculous as this tweet may sound, it’s true—the expenses involved in getting and keeping a job can be prohibitively expensive.

Here are a few expenses that are required to get or keep a job, that can also be just too expensive for some people:

Money to keep your car running

Corbin’s tweet talks about “gas money,” and she’s right that gas money is one of the costs that makes someone so poor that they can’t get to a job interview or to a job. But, there’s also the cost of making sure the car remains in good shape, of getting repairs when something breaks, and of inevitably getting a new car when your old car struggles to run as it should. After all, there are many jobs that require you to have a car, so if you can’t afford to have a functional car, you can’t afford to have a job.

Or, if you don’t drive to and from work, money for mass transit

I’m blessed to live in a place where you can take mass transit to and from work. However, mass transit fares can add up over the course of a year. For example, if one were to get a monthly mass transit pass in New York City, that’s over $1,500 a year in mass transit expenses alone (at $127 a month). For someone who’s earning a lot of money, $1,500 may not sound like a ton. But for someone on the edge financially, that $1,500 may be the difference between being able to afford to get to a job—or not.

Child care

If you have a child and you are looking to work a job for 40 hours a week, your child needs to somehow be taken care of until you get home from work. Hence, the need for child care. But it costs many thousands of dollars a year, in many cases, to make sure your child is getting proper child care. In New York City, it costs, on average, over $16,000 a year for an infant to be in child care![1] Even with a $15 an hour minimum wage—something that many progressives advocate for—that’s half a year’s worth of your salary spent on child care alone.

Dress code

Corbin’s tweet also talks about people not being able to afford the money to adhere to the dress code for a job interview, let alone the multiple appropriate outfits necessary for a job. On a personal note, there was one time months ago when I ran into someone begging for money on the subway…so that he could get nice clothes for his job interview. I hope he got his money, and his clothes. In the meantime, this story exemplifies how it costs money—lots of it—to have the dress code you need for a job interview and a job. If you don’t have the money to buy professional clothing, then it puts you in a difficult situation professionally.


So, next time there’s a temptation to judge a poor person for not working hard enough to get back on their feet, I really wish that we were less judgmental, and remembered that the obstacles to “getting back on their feet” (in other words, getting a job) are, in some cases, too enormous to overcome at times. Instead, it would be best to find solutions that would allow for a poor person to not spend as much on car maintenance, for someone in economic need to get reduced-fare or free mass transit,[2] for reduced-price or free child care to exist for those who need it, and for more reduced-price or free professional clothing to exist for those who need it.[3] There are many economic barriers that lie between many people and jobs, and instead of calling someone lazy for encountering those barriers, it would be best to figure out how to remove the barriers.


[1] https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/average-cost-daycare-nyc-tops-16k-article-1.2428709

[2] New York City has a program through which low-income residents can get reduced-fare mass transit passes, so such policies can and do exist in some places: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/home/downloads/pdf/resources/2018/Fair-Fares-FAQ-English.pdf

[3] Some individual programs, such as Dress for Success (for women) or the Men’s Wearhouse Suit Drive (for men) can help. However, individual programs like these are not enough. Click here for more information on Dress for Success and click here for more information on the Men’s Wearhouse Suit Drive.

America’s Failure to Support Troops…Economically

“Support our troops.” People in the United States frequently hear and see this phrase in a variety of settings: on cars, from politicians, and from friends posting on social media, to name a few. We hear it especially on days like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

And I agree. We should support our troops. While my personal opinion is that we should avoid war except in the most extreme of circumstances (example: if our own nation is attacked, like with Pearl Harbor), people who risk their own lives on behalf of the entire country should be supported. Since people in the military serve our country, our country should in return serve our military veterans. It’s the least we can do in the United States.

And yet, economically, we don’t support our troops.

There are numerous damning statistics on this fact. As of 2014, 25% of military families sought some sort of assistance with food.[1] There are nearly 38,000 homeless veterans; it’s a slight decrease from where it was, but there are still way too many homeless veterans.[2] There were nearly 1.5 million veterans in the United States living below the poverty line as of 2012.[3]

And we haven’t even gotten to wages, which are abysmal. For example, a starting salary for someone starting in the U.S. Army as an enlisted soldier, according to the Houston Chronicle, is $1,414 a month (a little over $18,000 a year). While that number goes up after several years of experience, an enlisted soldier with several years of experience can still earn under $30,000 a year.[4] Some of these salaries are below the minimum wage of some states, and they are certainly not living wages.

These are just a few statistics that show how this nation literally does not put its money where its mouth is. This nation talks a big game about supporting troops, yet fails to do so by paying living wages to troops and making sure that veterans aren’t homeless or in poverty. Shame on the United States for not giving back to people who have given so much to this country. Many of our troops have risked their lives to protect this country, and yet the government is risking the livelihoods of troops and their families through providing many of them with inadequate pay. This country does not truly support its troops.

However, we, as individuals, could raise our voices on this issue. We, as individuals, could contact our representatives in the House and Senate and ask them to make sure that all members of the military earn a living wage. Oh, and it would help if this problem gained national attention.


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/in-plain-sight/hungry-heroes-25-percent-military-families-seek-food-aid-n180236

[2] https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/pit_count.asp

[3] https://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/specialreports/veteran_poverty_trends.pdf

[4] http://work.chron.com/salaries-us-army-soldiers-6496.html

Fall/Winter 2019 Blog News

With Election Day now behind us, there are a couple of announcements I want to make about my upcoming blog schedule, as we head into the holidays:

  1. I will not publish posts on the following Mondays over the next few months: November 11 (Veterans Day), November 25 (Monday before Thanksgiving), December 23 (Monday before Christmas), December 30 (Monday before New Year’s Day), January 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), and February 17 (Presidents Day). These breaks from publishing have given me much-needed breaks in past years, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
  2. That being said, during this stretch around Christmas/New Year’s, I will publish a blog wrap-up for this calendar year. Last year, I experimented with publishing a series of social media posts that highlighted my most read post, my most liked post, the post that received the most comments, etc. However, doing this became challenging for me to keep up with during a time when I was hoping to take it easy. Instead, I will try to publish a single blog post that makes note of some (if not many) of the same highlights (as well as some highlights I didn’t mention in my social media posts last year, such as the blogging awards I received), and this will come in the form of a blog wrap-up for the calendar year. I’m tentatively thinking of publishing this post the day after Christmas, but this is very much subject to change depending on how the holidays are for me. It’s the first time I’m trying this, so I’ll welcome the feedback when/after the post is published!

That’s it for now. Happy reading, and I hope everyone is having a good fall (or spring, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)!

Election Day Coming Up: Remember to Vote!

For those of my readers who are in the United States, please remember to vote tomorrow.

While much attention may be focused on the election for President that is about one year from now, the smaller elections are important as well. Elections for local and state offices, as well as referendums on your ballot, can have a major impact on whether certain injustices are addressed or not.

So, while the excitement may not be there for the elections in 2019 quite like there will be for the elections in 2020, I encourage all of my American readers to vote. As for all of my non-American readers, I hope that you will also vote when/if you have elections.

Intersex Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being intersex. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be intersex.

Intersex people are people who have variations in sex characteristics (examples: sex hormones, genitals, chromosomes) that do not fit the typical definition of a male or a female body. One example of an intersex person is someone with external genitals that don’t appear to be clearly male or female.[1]

Now that we’ve talked about what it means to be intersex, here are a few stereotypes associated with being intersex:

  1. Only men and women were made; therefore, there are no intersex people. This is a belief most commonly held by conservative Christian churches. My counter to this is science—sometimes there are people who are born with both male and female body characteristics, or body characteristics where it’s not clear if the body is clearly male or female.
  2. Intersex athletes are cheats. For this stereotype, look no further than the treatment of Olympian Caster Semenya. She is ostracized, marginalized, and is just about treated as the equivalent of a cheat for the simple reason that she was born with intersex traits,[2] which in her case means that she was born with an abnormally high level of testosterone. Some have come to her defense and argued that she’s successful because of her skills and not her testosterone, but additionally, athletes should not be punished for the way they were born.
  3. Intersex people must be “made” into a man or a woman. If intersex people want to undergo transition so that they are a man or a woman, that is up to them. However, non-consensual surgery to make an intersex person into something they don’t want to be is harmful mentally, not to mention the fact that such surgeries can be physically harmful if not done properly.
  4. Even if they don’t get surgery to be made into a man or a woman, intersex people must be raised as a man or a woman and behave as a man or a woman. This seems like a product of ideas about gender as a binary—the idea that someone must be clearly a man or a woman. However, intersex people should have the freedom to choose their own path as to whether their gender identity is as a man, as a woman, or as somewhere outside of the gender binary.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being intersex. If there are other stereotypes about intersex people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the intersex stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

Other posts in my LGBTQ Stereotypes Series:
Introducing a Series on LGBTQ+ Stereotypes
Lesbian Stereotypes
Gay Stereotypes
Bisexual Stereotypes
Transgender Stereotypes
Queer Stereotypes


[1] There are other examples too, aside from the one I mentioned here.

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48120228

The Intersex Pride Flag.