How should society react to the problems of the poor?

There’s a darker side to America. It boasts it’s the land of the free. It claims it’s a level playing field and everyone can make it if they try hard enough. This myth of hard work always being rewarded with big bucks is dangerously misleading to the many who hope to improve their lot. Now add in the tenet that everyone should take responsibility for their own lives. This is the land of the individual, they claim. People should keep what they earn. Everything else is socialism and evil. Society should never help the weak and disadvantaged because it only encourages freeloading. As an example, you only have to look at the campaign against reform of the healthcare industry. Raise taxes on the rich to pay for healthcare for the poor is dragging the US into the same pit as Russia and all those other communist states.

So looking around the newspapers recently, there have been a number of editorials and articles attacking the loans offered to the low paid. If you think this was meant in defense of the low paid, think again. The general tone was to judge the disadvantaged members of society as feckless and inept. Apparently, it’s their fault they fall prey to the short-term loan industry charging extortionate rates of interest. If they were only more responsible and managed their resources better, they would be able to avoid falling into debt.

Well, these newspapers are edited by people who are well-paid and never have a financial emergency. Although the story always used to be that everyone was only ever one pay check from losing their homes, all this is forgotten when it comes to the unlucky and the low paid. Now, no-one responsible ever gets into trouble. All the best people are prudent and wise in the management of their affairs. This is the new myth. It’s a myth because it ignores the fact that the unlucky and the low paid are denied access to the usual banking system. Instead of banks and the conventional finance companies being prepared to hold out a helping hand to those in trouble, they turn away everyone with a low credit score. There are loans and overdrafts available but they are reserved for the people who, for the most part, already have enough. That’s why the low paid are driven into the arms of the payday loan companies. If they were treated with some respect, as being just as capable of repaying a loan as anyone else, there would be no need for them to be sucked dry by the high interest rates charged for payday loans.

This is an opinion piece. It’s quite angry because too many people are denied respect and laid open to exploitation by others. Society should not wash its hands of these people. It’s not socialism to care about what happens to people when they are victimized. In this world, it’s there but for the grace of God that we all go. It only takes one real emergency and our own financial security is gone. Our one pay check is not enough and we find ourselves knocking on the door of a payday loan company.