10 February 2009

Attitudes towards poverty

This article, the Poverty-Health Link, needs more of a response than simply saying the solution is to "reduce poverty." I have found that living without enough money is extremely stressful, besides not always having the money to pay for healthy-living foods. Stress itself might lead one to seek comfort foods, at least on more occasions than those better off. Giving up - feeling despondent about life - could lead to a poor person to have difficulty finding the effort to exercise, not to mention not having the money to take a taxi to the local swimming pool (a situation I found myself in Colchester, UK. Buses only got as close as several blocks away.) Then, when this despondency is seen by others, it may be mistaken for laziness. Trying to deal with the attitudes of ignorant others is half the battle. It's difficult to get to some medical appointments, when the cost of taxis and parking is sometimes beyond one's means.

Would poor people be best advised to spend their last $10 on healthy food, or keeping that appointment to take care of that health problem? For people not on welfare or not officially disabled, struggling to get by, assistance in transportation costs would be a great idea. Local governments, and any interested group:(1) Try and make health and recreation facilities available to everyone, not just those who have their own transportation, money, and health to access them. (2) Educate public employees, especially those in health services, what it feels like to not have one's needs listened to, especially if one's health is poor. (3) Provide low-cost foods in supermarkets, some labelled 'basic' if you like, and fruits and vegetables with flaws, for those who have no hangups about such things. (4) Recognize that there probably are a lot of people struggling with health and money issues who also have to deal with the general public attitude that being poor means one is stupid and lazy.

The poverty-health link

Toronto Star
Feb 10, 2009

Beyond Workaday Worlds
By Sue McPherson
S A McPherson website

Links updated Apr 2012