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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Stigma of Poverty

I'll just have you read the quote embellished on the image of Norman Mailer. Poverty is a worldly problem. It is indigenous to all countries. It is a plight that sucks innocent people into a cycle few of the entrapped ever break free of. And what's worse is that the more affluent feed off it.

The Joys of Jamaica
Being of the marrying kind (twice and I'm sure there's another in waiting somewhere) I spent one honeymoon (short lived trust me) at a resort in Jamaica. I love to horseback ride. Where ever I go Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Florida, anywhere I look for a facility to go horseback riding. It always is a highlight of any trip for me. Well me and my “divorce to be” did so. Part of the ride included a trip through a backwoods area. All the shelters were slapped together corrugated rusty metal shacks with no electric or plumbing. The people would come out to see us and wave. Who knows when their last meal or what their last meal was. For me, what should have been a tremendous highlight became a sickening slap in the face. You see we were vacationing in opulence right next to a shanty town wallowing in filth and poverty. The abundance of food thrown away in a day by our resort could have fed these people for a month. And just to think they had to barely get by through the yearly hurricane season in these metal hovels while elegant shelter stood a stone's throw away.

It's no different elsewhere
Years ago a supermarket chain commissioned a study that found a full time worker with a family of four qualified for government assistance. Yeah, that's here in the good old USA. One of our glorious fast food chain that happens to make billions had it's employee helpline advise workers to apply for government assistance. A food chain brought in a new CEO to guide the company out of bankruptcy. In less than two years the chain went under and it's rumored that the CEO was listed as a creditor, his severance package wasn't large enough. It's a quite common practice for businesses flourishing in the millions and billions to offer low pay to those who really are the reason the companies profit.

And so the cycle of poverty persists
There's something wrong in the overall business model where the main company flourishes and the workers barely get by. One theme a chain store promoted to it's employees was to shop there, show your support and company pride. The problem was most couldn't afford to. We can only create change when companies start paying on a scale that allows the employees to share in some way in the profits. Many smaller businesses do and they don't rake in that of the higher profit stores and businesses. But their employees are happier, stay longer, and seem to afford a better lifestyles.

Poverty In America (Full Feature) from Rich Naran on Vimeo.

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