Uncertainty and struggle are what we most often associate with poverty. Not knowing if you can still afford to pay next month’s bills and worrying over how much more you can cut back when you’re already barely getting by. This way of life has become more associated with the middle class than with those at the very bottom.
The statistic that shows that average black household worth is at $4,955 while average white household worth is at $110,729 is often quoted, but these numbers are not comparing similar things. Comparing the naked numbers is as misleading as comparing the average salaries in Tokyo and Bombay. What matters is not how much money you have, but how you live.
The $110,729 and $4,955 don’t reflect different standards of living; but different ways of living. Much of that $110,729 is home equity. But why do you need to shoulder the burden of a mortgage, when the government will just give you housing for free?
It’s misleading to think of the $110,729 families as privileged and of the $4,955 families as oppressed.
The $110,729 and $4,955 families both have large flat screen televisions, smartphones and the usual baseline consumer toys. They could both eat equally well, except that the $4,955 family doesn’t bother watching its food budget. It just takes whatever it wants off the shelf and worries about prices later.
In terms of personal satisfaction, the $4,955 family is happier than the $110,729 family.
To understand this, think of the “Cloud”. You can buy a laptop powerful enough to store all your programs and data. Or you can get by with a mobile device whose apps connect online to a “Cloud” of someone else’s servers which store your data. The laptop is heavier to carry than the mobile device, but makes you more independent. Or you can just live in the “Cloud” confident that no matter how you mess up your device; your data will be backed up.
America is being divided between the workers and the dwellers in the government cloud.
The $110,729 families are independent while the $4,955 families are living in the cloud. Their cloud is “Social Capital”. Social Capital is their support system within their extended families and the government. Instead of using real capital, they use the collective Social Capital of family resources and government aid.
The $110,729 family pays for everything. The $4,955 family pays for very little. The $110,729 family earns and saves money because that is its medium of exchange which it uses to obtain food, shelter and clothing. The $4,955 family uses money for luxury goods like televisions or sneakers. It doesn’t need to save money because cash is just bonus points. Its necessities like food, medicine and shelter are covered by the social capital of the government.
The $4,955 family is single parent, but is built around a large extended family, mostly female, and mostly on various government benefits. That family is capable of providing valuable aid, not just in government money, but also by babysitting and helping out at home.
That extended family is one reason why Clan $4,955 has 5 to 8 kids, while the mother of the two-parent $110,729 household is tearing her hair out trying to figure out how to manage two kids and a full-time job.