Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poverty, Part II

To me, we're poor, but we're not living in real poverty. Real poverty is lacking for what you need. Hunting squirrels and rabbits for food. Wearing old shoes that are no longer warm or comfortable. Being cold in the winter. Going hungry.

So we are poor, and in part by choice. Either of us could go work for industry, tomorrow (really: I could walk back into my old office), and earn twice a postdoc's salary. And, in fact, 70% of postdocs end up in industry. Now, it was my choice to quit my fancy job. I'm not now complaining about the consequences; I am describing what that choice means.

I'm not talking about "can't take that vacation to Tahiti."* I'm talking about working poor. I'm saying that with every penny, we have to make choices. Will I pay synagogue dues, or start a college fund for Tot 2?** Will I drive two hours to go visit my relatives who I haven't seen in years, or put that money towards the dental crown I need? Can we afford meat this week? Can I afford to buy a pregnancy tank top (for a total of... four) or should I get Bug new shoes instead?*** Can I afford this, can I afford that, an endless litany.

Sometimes it's hard to live with, even though it's my choice. Life is like that.

*True complaint from a well-paid, on-strike union member, speaking on the main stage: "And in ten years I've never once been able to take my family to the Bahamas!" Aaaand there goes my sympathy for that strike.

** They wish to base it on my pre-tax income, and take a sum equal to my grocery budget for a third of the year, or roughly HA HA HA HA HA. Sigh. I'll talk to the 'Budget Committee' eventually, but honestly? A tenth of what they want, and they can take it or leave it. I never liked High Holiday services anyways.

**Don't worry, he presently has three pairs of shoes that fit, plus two in each of the next sizes up. I'd never stint my child if I could help it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two to show up. Anonymous comments will be deleted.