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Pet Sins July 2001

The American addiction to consumption - one way the poor stay poor

I've been thinking about poverty in the States. I think the latter half of the article White woman denies race privilege while complaining about class oppression touches on something that is really important that I haven't been able to articulate. I have an ex-boyfriend whose whole family scraped by all the time - they were working poor with no sense of money. And I could never understand how they made their choices.

Like the white woman in the article, they ate pretty well, but they would choose to spend money on rather unecessary, as I saw it, things. And then they'd be all out of money and on this scary edge. He would buy something like a snowboard -- 500 bucks or something and then not have enough money for rent or food.

Or we'd go to a coffee shop - which is unnecessary as it is, but he 'needed' coffee to get him to the next place - keep him awake... I don't know. But not only this but he'd buy a coffee that was like 4 dollars or something. I always argued with him/fought but it was his way. I always gave him money.

This was five years ago but I saw him a year and a half ago, and he was so down and out and making the same kinds of stupid decisions (in my eyes) like he bought a car and got a dog when he could barely keep things together. And it made me so sad to see that things had not only not changed but had become more extreme.

He would also buy weed when he didn't have money for groceries. Anyway, last time I slipped a hundred bucks in his dashboard -- and I cried when I left him. It's weird because he can never 'catch up'. He's always like "if I had just such and such amount of money, I could be out of debt and on the upclimb."

I think that Americans are sick. We are addicted to consumption, addicted to fast food that is not nutritious and addicted to dreams repreesnted by things, snowboards, clothes... you name it, and addicted to coffee and drugs and things we don't get from within ourselves or from our families and friends.

Another friend's family is similar - they are all on the edge - they sometimes don't have money for food but it's because they won't cook for themselves and spend money on overpriced fast food and pastries and stuff like that. (I do this too) They have shitty low paying jobs and they also have this sickness that my white working/lower class boyfriend and his family have. (I think loaded people have this sickness too - overspend their means - but they can usually recover.)