"And graven with diamonds in letters plain, There is written, her fair neck round about; ' Noli me tangere; for Cæsar's I am, And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'"
By archived on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests
I really liked this article, and found the argument interesting - a perspective I had never thought of. But I still hate that how [poor] individuals spend their money even needs to be justified or discussed at large.
It reminds me of that report that came out several years ago that exposed and broke down how "the poors" actually own stuff, causing a lot of uptight rich people to clutch their pearls and tsk tsk. (I hesitantly link to the Heritage Foundation study: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty)
About a year ago I got into a big argument with a friend's fiance about the fact that poor people dared to own things like TVs and video game consoles - this was a guy who had just returned from an 8 week European vacation and lived in a $4000/month 1 bdrm apartment, a guy who comes from wealth I can't even conceive of and who walked into a job in his families business likely making more than my parents and I combined. He legitimately thought that because they were poor they shouldn't own such "luxury items" (the fact that nothing in the study shows that these items were new when purchased - or even purchased rather than received as a gift was lost on him.)
Ugh, I don't know where I am going with this, I'm just left with a feeling of frustration at the condescending tone taken towards these shoppers. As a person who grew up not quite poor, but not quite middle class I can just totally relate to the ecstatic moment of opening up a tax return check and thinking I could finally buy myself something exciting, maybe I never bought a $2500 purse, but I can relate to that desire.
By twirl2 on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests
Wow, that essay took my breath away, it really described a lot of what I experienced but did not put in words as I transitioned from a poor household in childhood (marginally educated poor white, but not dignified genteel poor white) to "normal" middle to upper class adulthood. Thank you for posting, Jia. Now I will proceed to feel a lot, for everyone who is poor (or even not that poor), and making decisions about status and presentation. None of us really knows whether they are dumb decisions or smart decisions, do we?
By queenofbithynia on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests
Having to make the status argument, although it makes perfect sense, is strange to me -- strange that it should be a necessary defense against this attack -- because I've always heard poor people criticized for their/our stupidity in not buying high-quality luxury personal goods. You know -- it's so so dumb to buy a $30 pair of pleather boots from payless/Goodwill that won't last a season when you should be smart and buy a $400 pair made out of real leather that's resoleable and a cobbler can keep going for you for the rest of your natural life, because that would be cheaper in the long run. And then you have to patiently explain that you are not dumb and you do actually know that nice things are nicer than not-nice things, and the reason you buy the shitty personal good is not because you have no impulse control or taste or sense of wastefulness, but because you don't have $400 goddamn dollars and you do need something to put on your feet right now, today.
and likewise, a super fancy belt or bag from a high-end manufacturer is exactly the kind of "investment piece" that I thought we were all supposed to be scraping and saving for instead of buying the disposable garbage that is all many of us can afford. I thought that was an example of the counterintuitive thriftiness of the deserving rich, that they had the cleverness to throw money at accessories because Quality Lasts. I mean, not that poor people would do this simply because rich people do it, but that rich people do it because it is actually a worthwhile thing to do, when you can.
& even though I am not poor these days in the sense that serious people mean it, I have similar spending habits for similar reasons, and I absolutely would drop a thousand dollars on a single bag or pair of boots, if I ever had a thousand dollars handy, because that's a smart fucking thing to do.
By adorable-eggplant on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests
This essay is so absolutely perfect. It is the most incisive essay I have read on this subject. Sharing with everyone I know.
Also, this part made me cry at my desk, because that is true for me too: "I don’t know the price of these critical engagements with organizations and gatekeepers relative to our poverty when I was growing up. But, I am living proof of its investment yield." Thanks, parents.
By hungrybee on "The Logic of Stupid Poor People," Or, the Only Thing Worth Reading About the Barneys "Shopping While Black" Arrests
"Of course, the trick is you can never know the counterfactual of your life. There is no evidence of access denied." My, she's excellent.
This idea is floated around a lot if you’re buried in this stuff.
We're scared to death of not paying, especially with private student loans. They threaten you if you're late. They lie to you and contradict each other when you call. There's no income based repayment. Consolidating is made impossible.
I can go on about this forever. I’ve been dealing with and fighting a lot of this stuff for almost 10 years now. I've been responding to the "you took it out, deal with it!" crowd for years. I've been dealing with politicians and activist groups who audibly gasp when I explain what Sallie Mae has done, even though they deal with this stuff reguarly.
Ultimately, I think the problem with this is that (despite what people like to tell me), many of us in this situation are stuck with an annoying sense of responsibility.
My single biggest reason for not pulling a grand gesture like this is simple:
My family is on the hook as a co-signer and the Department of Education will (as it has to others many times) help lenders like Sallie Mae raid everything they own. THAT is the road block.
There is a reason why private student loans largely demand co-signers. They know they're trapping kids. But if they can get more assets out of it when you inevitably have issues, then what do they care?
So in the meantime, paying half of my income to Sallie Mae is about all I can do to not ruin more lives than just mine.
All I know is that it's funny that people still freak out over housing bubbles when we have an entire generation of kids who probably can never be approved for a home.
@RNL Yes, and if you need a halfway decent credit score (for things like procuring basic shelter or buying a car), you're kind of fucked. You can't fight the man if you can't feed yourself.
@TheMnemosyne Exactly. The reason escrow won't work? Because student loans don't work like rent. And they will garnish your wages. And you will be screwed over. And not enough people are gutsy enough to risk that -- because we're all paying back our loans.
@TheMnemosyne *opens paycheck envelope* *cocktail onion falls out* oh, fuck!
@TheMnemosyne this. Also, the author says "If you have even one single low period, especially in your twenties, your lenders will feed off of you for longer than you ever feared, and then some."
And then suggests that you do just that?