My business entails visiting man of the people who would be nominally considered poor in Australia. usually Im selling a product (rental goods) to people who for a variety of reasons (some Ill go into) cannot access normal credit or cannot save money.
A disclaimer. Renting is a terrible way to get goods, over the term of a rental contract you will pay for the goods at least threefold. I heartily recommend people use lay buy or save for products and avoid rental like the plague. (as a defence, we do have to factor in a lot of bad debt)
However a new government initiative to protect rental customers from unscrupulous salesmen meant I actualy have to basically budget for people before I sell them items. This has led me to 3 conclusions.
First of all my broad sweeping generalisation. THERE IS NO POVERTY IN AUSTRALIA.
Poverty is not caused by lack of money in many situations, its caused by a number of the following.
1: Some people are poor because of mental health/disabilities, or are on aged benefits. I will also add those with parasite families, Ive had a few of them as well.
2: Many other people are poor because of terrible defects in their learning, they can be otherwise bright and talk well, but they learnt nothing in school.
3: And others are poor because they have made extremely bad decisions, usually involving drugs, friends, and past behaviour.
More under the fold
How can I claim or support this, Ill show you.
First of all the Australian agency tasked with estimating average incomes has the following figure as average earnings. 923.40 , I myself make on average 2/3 of that amount (I only work half the year), and with a bit of rental income probably just tip that amount.
1: One particular family group (mum, dad, 2 working age kids) are all on some form of disability benefit. The Father has wrecked his health through illicit drugs, but is now sober, unfortunately the painkillers he is taking leave him at times nearly incoherent. The mother does part time work as a cleaner and is the most capable of the family, however she appears to have a fairly low IQ and not much education. The daughter has one child (in care) and is receiving a basic unemployment allowance, as well as making a bit of “off the books” money cleaning, she is extremely naive and also appears to have a low IQ. The son is receiving a disability pension due to his learning difficulties, he is fully functional but borderline retarded.
The whole family rents a house for about $200.00 per week.
Their respective incomes are (all approximate, nearly no-one knows for sure how much they are getting, it just comes in and is spent)
Dad: $360.00 pw
Daughter: $400.00 pw
Son: $180 pw
All these sums are what they have informed me they receive, so they are correct to the best of my knowledge.
So all up approximately $1400 per week enters the household, being in receipt of pensions they also receive subsidised fees for their power/water as well.
Only $200.00 per week is consumed in rent, where does the rest go? I take approximately a further 250 pw out in rental goods, another rental company takes about another 250 as well. They feed 2 dogs and themselves, the father is a chain smoker and the rest just “goes”. Nearly every item they are renting could be brought outright with 2 weeks combined rental payments if they were able to save the money.As is they are running out of the remaining $500 per week nearly EVERY WEEK, the house is a pigsty (mums to knackered to clean) and they live an extremely limited and apparently impoverished lifestyle.
Thats the terrible thing about most of my customers/Australia’s poor, they are incapable of working out a short term deprivation will equal a much greater sum of money available in a relatively short period of time.
I dont condemn these people for their situation, a combination of factors has led to their plight. However I will argue they are not “in poverty” because of a lack of money, they are that way because of one main reason. Lack of education. The mother for example quizzed me on WW2 because she thought her grandfather was in it, she asked me if I could find out anything about Tobruk or the Kokoda trail as she though he might have been there. Turns out the poor sod was in both the iconic battles (for Australians), but his own daughter wasnt educated enough to realise that.
Now for group 2
Again another family group, living in the same set of units but separate.
Mother Claims to be stolen generation, clean, tidy house, well presented, old prison tatts on forearms, her spouse a hard working Aboriginal man (meatworker), who isnt officially (as far as the social security are concerned) living with her. The daughter is a very pretty girl (21) about to give birth to her 3rd child, only one of her previous children is with her the other is off living with its father in another town, the son is working on and off as a Shearer, pulling in good money while hes working, but with gaps between jobs, he also has a pregnant girlfriend.
Mum: Approx $300 pw disability pension
Dad: Approx $800 pw meatworker
Daughter: $510 pw single parents pension
Son: When working $500+ pw, when not only about $180. (jobsearch allowance)
So there is some serious money floating around again, however all have the same major problem. They are intelligent, articulate (bar dad) but woefully educated.
The daughter in particular upset me a little, she was curious, bright, kept her kid and house well, but had to get mum to fill in her application as her reading was so poor. It was upsetting to see the wasted potential of this girl, she grasped what instructions I told her about various items and was eager to know more, but because of a failed education (how do you go to school for 10 years without reading and writing) her world was so terribly limited. Her information will come to her purely from what she hears or sees, she wont ever be capable of changing her life unless she receives a different worldview from that she inhabits. It is unlikely this will ever happen.
The son was a bit rough, a bad credit rating (skipped on a loan), minor brushes with the law, likes his weed and beers. Now the man can work, being a Shearer means he has to. However every cent that enters the household is immediately spent, if work stops is back to $180 pw and on the bones of his arse again. He had to get his girlfriend to fill in his form as well, this poor bloke is also trapped by poor education, and not helped by his boom and bust lifestyle. (I used to shear myself, its a bugger of a job)
Dad wasnt a particularly chatty bloke, again a hard worker, from what I saw coming home exhausted each day and happy to have a few beers, a bit of TV and off to bed. He also had a bad debt ($6000) chasing him and was unable to write his own form.
Mum: Genuinely nice lady, did most of the paperwork for everyone and showed a considerable amount of pride in herself and her household. The only one educated enough to look outside her own small world in my opinion.
All bar the mum were effectively crippled by not being able to read or write properly, and all of them are effectively stuck as if in amber, in the life they currently lead because of it. That to me is true poverty.
Now for group 3:
My biggest mistake so far was a lady I put on who claimed she had beaten her drug addiction, with 7 kids and one of her sisters kids fostered to her. In addition she had a “user” man around, who as far as I can tell drops in and out whenever she has money, or he wants a root.
This lady was on my books before the new checks were introduced, so I dont have an exact figure she was receiving as a pension. However a rough calculation puts her receiving somewhere around $2000 pw.
I made the decision to rent items to her based on 2 things, her claim to be clean of drugs, and the fact the child services considered he a fit enough parent to foster her sisters child to her, my mistake.
The house was a mess, she was in the middle of spending money she had inherited (why did she decide to rent??) and it was quite chaotic with the kids (the eldest couple of daughters assisted though).
The rental goods were mostly furniture such as beds, fridge etc, so quite essential.
However shortly after she began renting her blowfly of a boyfriend hooked back up with her, spent most of her inheritance money and re-introduced her to drugs. I genuinely dont want to remove the goods from this ladies house, as it will be terrible for the kids living there. Ive had to return to the house numerous times to remind her of payments, and can tell the oldest girls think Im being in some way unfair to their mum because it upsets her. I dont think the girls realise that their mums choice to allow the blowfly to use her, then continue her drug addiction is what is causing the lifestyle they are living, not $400 per fortnight in essential items.
WHAT DO I BLAME?? EDUCATION!
Each household mentioned above receives close to, or above the average weekly earnings, yet without exception possess little items of any value. They have a complete inability to save money, even on the short term, and in a couple of the cases above live in squalid conditions. In addition there appears to be a worsening of educational outcomes with each successive generation, with older people generally able to read and write well enough and the younger generations increasingly unable.
There is nearly no excuse for people to be attending an institution of learning for at least 10 years of their life and leaving unable to read, write, budget, and most of all, learning how to spend money wisely.
There is a whole plethora of government employees trying to protect the irresponsible from the consequences of their actions. For example, a customer has stolen some goods and moved interstate, yet the police advise it is a “civil matter” not a crime.
Another customer decides to move interstate and claims to another consumer protection body she was tricked into the contract. Despite proving to the busybody investigating that EVERY one of her claims was a lie they asked she be released from the contract as she no longer wanted it.
Consumers do need protection, but it has gone beyond that to effectively nullifying contracts based on the whim of the buyer. This encourages feckless behaviour and increases the cost of doing business for the rest of my customers. I would be quite happy to HALVE my rates if I was assured of receiving every payment on time, with no defaults. As it stands those who are doing the right thing are effectively subsidising those who are behaving badly.
In addition, much is made of overcrowded housing in Australia, yet what is never mentioned is the sometimes substantial anounts of money flowing into the same households. Teach people how to use money, dont give them more.
You may have made some bad decisions in your past. No one will force you to continue to make bad decisions.
No one forces you to smoke
No one forces you to watch TV rather than learn things.
You are the master of your own fate, you may be limited by some outside factors, but by buggery theres nothing to stop you being the best at what you do.
You are never to old to learn new crap. It may be more difficult and take longer, but if you want to do it you will.
Have a look at your friends, judge them, are they your friends or are they parasites?
A terrible disease, nearly every family group I deal with on it consider themselves poor. They are told that time and time again. They should be told how wealthy they are, after all the families Ive outlined above are receiving/earning close to the average wage, yet have little to show for it.
So poverty is (not in every case) as much a product of mindset rather than a function of dollars and cents.
Well that finishes this little rant, enjoy your day, if you disagree or have something to add then let me know in the comments.