Poor Unfortunate Souls!

I am not an expert on economics, sociology or anything related to these. Few of us are. Yet the ones who genuinely are experts seem to disagree so much with each other on these subjects. So the following, I admit, are mere observations made by yours truly taken from my experience (as limited and myopic as it may be) in life and the work force.

Misconceptions about poverty:

Most poor people abuse the system and are dependent on government handouts. I do not think for a second that poor people don’t abuse the system. Nor do I believe it’s not a problem. However, I’m pretty sure the rich also abuse the system. Real sure. In fact, their abuses hurt the poor much more than the poor’s abuses hurt the rich. So why is it that we talk about the former more than the latter? It is simply unfair to pin this offense on the poor in our society. Many depend on government handouts, yes. But I can attest to what it’s like to be in that position. For a span of three months I was unable to support myself and I relied on employment insurance: a government “handout.” It is a discomforting pride-swallowing ordeal. I wasn’t crazy about asking for a handout, but neither was I impressed with the amount.

The gov’t pays out a ton of my hard earned money to people who don’t deserve it. First of all, every human being deserves to be helped out when in need. Yes, there are those who are positions they’ve put themselves in and/or are happy to live in squalor because they’re lazy. But for the most part, we all want to move ahead in our lives. Furthermore—and trust me on this one—though the government takes a huge chunk of your hard-earned cash, a very small percentage would actually make its way to the hands of the poor. I mean come on, we’re talking politicians giving up money to make people’s lives better. How much could they possibly be willing to part with?

I’m poor. I know what it’s like to have my back against the wall to the point where you feel like you’re bolted there. I know what it’s like to not know where the money is going to come from to pay for something that is of upmost importance. But I’m not poor. If you’re reading this, chances are very good that you aren’t either.

Poor people in Canada and the US are rich compared to the poor in third world countries. When I say that we are not poor, I’m not suggesting that no one living in Canada or the US is poor. In every province and state in North America there is poverty that would shock us. It is true that some countries measure poverty by calorie intake where we measure it in how much money you make. But that shouldn’t belittle the plight of the poor in our own homeland.

Poor people have no money. A lot of people living in poverty are able to get money, but either addictions and/or a terrible incompetence in money management keeps them poor. But hey, let’s not vilify them for this. It’s difficult to understand another person’s struggle. Addictions and ineptitude can be severely debilitating. Perhaps we could get over or disgust and try and correct this problem in our world. Besides, judging someone without knowing their whole story is not only difficult to do, it is pretty much impossible. Not to mention unwise.

As opposed to the US, wealth is spread out nicely in Canada. — Americans tend to say Canada is too socialist in its governance. We are proud of the fact that people across the economic spectrum get free healthcare and access to help when in time of need. However, consider that in 2007 80% of the US’s wealth is controlled by 20% of the population. So, if we really are better than that, how much different would you think we are. Here’s the ice-cold reality: In the same year in Canada, almost 70% of the country’s wealth is controlled by 20% of the population. Better hold off on those bragging rights.

Ask anyone what they know of Robin Hood and the first thing said by most would be that he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. But the moral of the Robin Hood story isn’t to start stealing from the rich. I think what you get from the story (be it in movie, comic book, TV show, book form, et al) is that amid the terrible corruption and inequality, they found a way. A movement grew from the roots and fought back with goodness.

Congratulations Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Olivia de Havilland. I’d never heard of her before watching The Adventures of Robin Hood, but I have to say that she left more of an impression on me than Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Prince of Thieves.

Best Actor: Sorry Morgan Freeman. This is Alan Rickman’s time. He’s such a great villain (nod to Die Hard‘s Hans Gruber), and in this movie he’s also very funny.

Best Quote: “Oh, he’s so handsome. Just like his reward posters.” – Sis in Disney’s Robin Hood.

Prince of Thieves would have been my pick too. Even though Costner was lacking in the British accent department and Robin shows off his butt, which seems to have tan-lines from a speedo, this movie was such a great summer blockbuster in 1991. And of course, where would be be without the “carve your heart out with a spoon” scenes?



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