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29 October 2009 @ 01:04 pm
What do tires have to do with class status?  
The time has come to get new tires for my car.

Even though I no longer work, I am married to a darling man who still has a middle class job and grew up a few rungs above me in terms of income and class status.

The difference in how we view the world is apparent in how we think about things like tires.

He assumes that of course one always buys 4 new tires and has them rotated regularly on schedule. While I have grown more used to that way of doing things, and agree that it's sensible, I explained the way poor people approach the same problem.

"The thing is," I said, "Poor people NEVER have money for 4 new or even used tires at the same time. So what you do is buy a decent used tire whenever you have one that can no longer be patched. You make sure you have towing and road service on your insurance."

Dave always urges me to write about these things because, he says, "People don't know what it's like."

Do people really want to know?

I suspect most people don't. They'd rather ignore poverty. Poverty serves a purpose. If we solved poverty, who would willingly do the dangerous or boring jobs for minimum wage? It's much easier to shake our heads and wonder why poor people don't just work harder and stop being poor. Heaven forbid we offer them health care with even one penny of our tax money.

ETA: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/

Link provided by <lj user="almighty_patsy> --Thank you so much!
Ms. F.goodbadgirl on October 29th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I suspect most people don't want to know....but I don't think that's the real important question. I think the question is how do we get this information out to as many people as possible....because the reality is you cannot unlearn what you know. Once it's out there it's out there...and that is the only hope change has to manifest itself.

So tell your stories. Tell them to whomever will listen whenever they will listen. Trust me - no there are no trust fund kids sitting in writing classes at Yale wondering if people want to read their stories....

Tapatitapati on October 30th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
Good points! Thanks! xoxoxoxoxox

Of course the student in Yale thinks they are going to write the great American novel.

Ms. F.goodbadgirl on October 30th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Of course they do.

But it's your job to tell the real American story. xo
batchfilebatchfile on October 29th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
it was SO COOL the day i drove my new to me mustang to the local shop and bought *gasp* two brand new tires!

poor people who have moved up a little bit (not into true middle class, but much closer) buy two new tires to put on the front. and the best two old tires go onto the back. front tires wear out faster due to turning. rear tires just need tread for traction purposes.

everyone involved thought i was pretty damned smart for a woman. heh.
Tapatitapati on October 30th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
Yes, two tires on the front is what you do when you are movin' on up even slightly.

Most people don't realize there are degrees even in poverty.
batchfilebatchfile on October 30th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
yes. the first paycheck, i cried. i didn't HAVE to use the foodstamps. and so i scrimped and we stayed in cheaper housing so i wouldn't have to use them again.

considering how many kids i had, i'd have still qualified. not fully, but still.
3treekisser: Mangosteen3treekisser on October 29th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
I'm interested, you know I am.

I don't understand what Americans have against universal healthcare. Frankly I think it's barbaric.
Tapatitapati on October 30th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
It is barbaric. Really. WTF! Americans hate paying taxes for ANY kind of social welfare program because we have that rugged individualist, pull yourself up by your bootstraps (even when you don't have boots) fantasy. Everyone is supposed to make it if they just work hard enough. But some people are working three minimum wage jobs to support their family and still don't have health care--how can they work any harder? Our educational system is failing them, too. The poor districts get the worst schools.

almighty_patsy: overlookedalmighty_patsy on October 30th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
You know, judging from the response to this post that John Scalzi wrote, I think some people want to know. It is, of course, about an entirely different level of poverty to the levels many are familiar with (better than many and worse than a few). But it's one of the most popular posts he ever wrote, so...
Tapatitapati on October 30th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
That was brilliant, thanks so much for including it!

Yes there are so many levels of poor and one may go up and down them throughout one's life.
lunaetstellaelunaetstellae on November 1st, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
So true. I remember when I'd buy RETREADS, one at a time as needed, and it was a thrill to be eventually able to buy one NEW tire!