Why Do We Hate the Poor So Much?

Jodi and Randy Speidel lived in Bellefontaine, Ohio. They were in their 40’s and both were unable to work due to chronic illnesses. They survived this past winter without gas heat, and could no longer afford to pay their water bill. They were unable to afford to feed their cats. So Mr. and Mrs. Speidel put the cats outside, put warning signs on the entrances, then closed themselves off in a bedroom with two charcoal grills and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. (source: Columbus Dispatch) 

Photo from the UK's Daily Mail
Photo from the UK’s Daily Mail

Mr. and Mrs. Speidel felt their situation was hopeless. They had tried every avenue they knew to obtain help, but help was simply not available to them. They had even posted on two internet sites asking for help. Funny how a young man got thousands of dollars just to make potato salad, and these two couldn’t get anything to help them have heat and water.

So here are some options that many people have since said they should have tried:

They should have asked friends and family for help. Apparently their family, at the very least, a daughter, knew of their circumstances, so I’m guessing they were helped as much as folks felt they could. Or else didn’t care enough to. I don’t know, but I’m hoping it’s the former.

They should have applied for assistance through community agencies. I can’t speak for every church, but most of the ones I work with want you to apply for help in person on a weekday morning. So that means for these two chronically ill people they must rise early and get a bus or walk to said church, wait in line, and give all sorts of personal information to hopefully be given a portion of they money they really need. Churches can only give what they have, and well, I’ve yet to work with a church that has an unlimited supply of funds for the poor here at home. Many limit their aid to a family to once a year.

Other agencies require much the same- a personal appearance at their office, lots of questioning, and then perhaps a pittance to help you in the short-term, or, if you can’t make up the difference for the bill in question, they won’t give you anything because they’d rather give the money to someone who can use it to get somewhere than someone who can’t.

These are ill people, and yet the system we have created to help the poor would be difficult for them to maneuver, especially when you consider they’d have had to go to most likely several agencies to get just a little help, meaning it would tie up several days. And they would also have to work out the logistics of getting there. I doubt they had money for gas, if they had a car, that is.

They should have applied for government assistance. Of course you know that there is no welfare, right? We got rid of that because our country was afraid it was leading black women to have lots of babies to get a bigger check. So instead we have cash assistance, but it’s rarely available, and most likely wouldn’t have been for these two. They did have food stamps, I’m sure not enough to feed themselves for a month, as they were eating one meal a day. And with no water to cook with, they were limited on what they could buy.

And don’t forget that in some states this couple would have to submit to a drug screen and a lecture on how they’re not allowed to buy seafood or go swimming using any funds they get from the government. After all, we don’t expect the poor to be smart enough to manage money without our interference.

They should have applied for disability. If you become disabled today, and you applied for disability today, the soonest you’d receive your first check would be almost a year later, and that’s IF, for some miraculous reason, you were approved the first time out. Most people are denied, and have to appeal the decision, so it can take years to begin receiving funds. Now they will make those funds retroactive, but money you get tomorrow won’t pay the rent or utility bills today.

The neighbors should have helped. One young neighbor was quoted as saying that if she’d known them better, she would have helped them. But we don’t know our neighbors or what their needs are. We don’t ask. And we pray they don’t tell us. If this couple had come to the door and explained their plight, how many people would have helped them? Would you?

The irony of all of this is if they had begged for money to help their cats, they probably would have fared better than they did in helping themselves. And that makes me incredibly sad.

I pray you’ve found your peace Jodi and Randy. You have certainly earned it, and God knows you weren’t going to get it from any of us.

47 thoughts on “Why Do We Hate the Poor So Much?

  1. I’m so sad that such things happen…. and I wish there would be more hope for all Randy’s and Jodi’s of our world… I always try to help, when I see that someone has problems, at least with helping them to manage all that paperwork they will need to get some support.

    1. We make these systems that are difficult to maneuver because we’re afraid that people will take advantage, when the people that really need the help can’t figure them out but the people that will take advantage know the system inside out. *sigh*

      1. I’ve told the insurance guy that you have to be a lawyer, a math-genius and a fortune teller to answer all that questions… he said: yep, that’s the reason we created them that way…then he laughed and said that’s a joke… but I have some doubts… (I’ve got my paperwork back two times by now, because something was “not correct”… and that means I haven’t seen one cent by now from my insurance :o( )

  2. It is very sad when “we” look at people who are clearly in trouble (living on the street; unkempt etc) and label them as of little value. I have worked with a number of these individuals over a 2-1/2 yr period and not one of them made the conscious choice to live like that. One thing they all had in common was that they were no longer able to cope the way “we” do. This could be a result of being abandoned, sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused, developmental issues, or quite simply made some bad choices. They are far from perfect ….. but then so am I. We need to constantly remind ourselves that underneath that attitude and appearance which gives us so much trouble, is a person just like you and I ….. except that they experienced something which they could not deal with.
    I once met a young girl who was living as best she could on the streets of Toronto. She was dressed in clothes that did not fit very well, and a good shower would have helped her outward appearance. Her story was that she had been abandoned by her biological Mom and put in a foster home however, that did not work out too well so she ran away and eventually was placed in another foster home…….. which did not work out either. Soon she was old enough to have the legal right to make her own decisions. It was clear from chatting with her that while she knew the concept of love, she had no experience of it! When we first met, she had been caught selling flowers on the street (for food money) without a license. She was selling red roses ……… the symbol of love. I shall never forget her.

    1. There are many damaged people walking around in the world. We look the other way while they are damaged, then heap more abuse on them for being that way.

  3. It normally takes three SSDI appeals prior to receiving approval. It takes years. Adults without minor children seem to have no value in this society if they can’t work. Most cannot receive any benefits. Thanks for bringing more awareness to this issue.

    1. That’s true. Now you want to talk about people who REALLY milk the system? Let’s talk about these lawyers who specialize in disability claims. They hardly do anything and make a lot of money for their lack of effort.

      1. True. A friend of mine only got her SSDI approved due to her lawyer’s efforts. The agency paid all lawyer fees, but she never got her back benefits. What a racket. Since the lawyer got all he could out of it, he didn’t help her get the rest.

  4. It shouldn’t be so hard to get assistance when you really need it. But the problem is there are too many people who take advantage. They ruin it for everyone.

    I am exceedingly grateful that my mom was so well taken care of by hospice and with government assistance in her last days. She, fortunately, did not have much trouble getting assistance when she became disabled. My stepdad, on the other hand, had to jump through several hoops before he could even be declared disabled. The judge flat out told him that she didn’t believe my stepdad was truly disabled, despite reports from two doctor specialists. When my stepdad appealed, the upper court told the judge that she had to take those reports seriously whether she believed the disease to be legitimate or not. It took almost a year for my stepdad to get what he needed. The judge was supposed to make sure he got three months back pay but she filed her report three months late, which made his back pay only cover those past three months instead of the total six. No doubt, the judge probably felt that my stepdad was one of those people trying to take advantage of the system. The bitter woman probably sees it all the time in her line of work.

    1. I think that more often what happens is people like your stepdad are judged to be “faking it” or “taking advantage” when really they aren’t. What you call taking advantage of the system is oftentimes someone doing what they have to to survive. Selling foodstamps? You call it fraud, but many times that’s folks having to do what they have to to pay a high water bill or utility bill. They can go to the food bank and get food, but nobody’s gonna help them pay to keep the water on. If you live in subsidized housing, you have to maintain your utilities or that’s grounds for eviction. And if you’re homeless, well, you lose all your belongings, families are split up as now many shelters separate men from women and children. And of course if you have a pet, that’s as good as dead.

  5. This is a story that was, and should have been, reported. There are thousands of others that aren’t, that are shoved under the carpet, that are ignored and dismissed, and this is exactly the way things are going in the UK.
    The sick, old, needy and disabled are being persecuted, as are those already living below the poverty line and slowly being starved or frozen to death by the two faced bureaucracy of this country.
    Disabled living allowances are being scrapped and replaced with a PIP (Personal Independence Payment). Whereas with a DLA, mobility, permanent medication, pain management, degenerative illness, mental or physical issues, circulatory problems etc were taken into account, now if you can hold a pencil, dress yourself, walk up 2 steps unaided and drink a cup of tea without assistance, you no longer qualify.
    Money stopped. Bang. Gone.
    Same for incapacity benefits, when the same issues for having a DLA stops you from holding down a job, which is also being removed from those dependent on it, and they are expected to travel to job centres every day to sign on when they have no money for transport, and get no help for it either. If they don’t, or turn down three jobs (regardless of them perhaps being 50 miles away), then they get nothing.
    Not that many years ago, statistics showed that a single person needed at least £15000 per annum to live. Today, a living wage is classed around £8 per hour, but the minimum wage is £6.20 per hour. Most people work a 40 hour week.
    ICA and DLA equate to a total £170 per week if you’re lucky and get the higher rate. Take that away, how can anyone survive?

    State help? No.
    Medical help? Only if you are in receipt of certain benefits (see above)
    Vet bill assistance? Only being in receipt of 2 specified benefits will allow you to qualify (again see above).
    Food Bank: if you can get there, and there is something left.

    Then some fat arsed politician states he can live on £50 a week.
    (after expenditure, mortgage, bills, loans, everything to do with HIS LIFE has been taken into account).
    Tell him to try it for a year, to survive on just £2600, with no help, no house, no car, no expense account. Hell, I’ll even do his accounts for him for free.

    Rant over.
    Sorry guys. This kind of thing just makes me so mad as our so called caring Government keeps telling the population that things are looking up.

    1. Oh it’s true, things ARE looking up for those that have no need to look up because they’re already doing just fine. Like the song says, “Them that’s got shall have, Them that’s not shall lose, So the Bible said and it still is news
      Mama may have, Papa may have, But God bless the child that’s got his own, That’s got his own”

      1. I know some how people are worth less than ever. I love animals but people need help and compassion too…. I will not go into what is happening off the coast of Malta but for some reason life has become so cheap!

  6. One of the problems in getting services to folks like the ones you mentioned is that the people who can help in some way may have no idea that there’s someone out there in need of help. It might not be fair, but we still have to be made aware of a situation before we can respond. Years ago I worked in an emergency shelter and the only people I could help were the ones I knew about. I had to accept that I could not save the world (a bitter pill to swallow), only that small part I knew about and who wanted my help.

    I have no real answers to how we get services to every person who needs them. I know that if I had spent all my time running around Anchorage looking for people who needed help I could not have served the thousands I did serve by staying in one place and letting them come to me. We did have some pretty disabled folks end up at the shelter. It was often difficult to manage because we had two floors and no elevators, but somehow between all the public and private agencies, we managed. Lutheran social services had a beat up old car run by volunteer drivers that it went and got people in and took them to appointments. Yet, there were still people who fell through the cracks. Why? Some didn’t want to be on “welfare” and would rather die in a tarp tent in winter. Some might have not known about any of the options available.

    We no longer have “sick maintenance” required of Celtic kings, more is the pity.

    Recently an Internet acquaintance of mine ran into major problems (still has most of them in progress) and the one thing I could do to help was to involve animal rescue folks I know who rushed dog food, cat food, and cat litter to the house so the critters could eat. SNAP benefits were, thankfully, in place. It doesn’t fix most of the other issues that person faces, but it took the pressure off one small area of her life and that seems to have helped.

    We used to have social workers who did this sort of work (I was one of them) in the 70’s. I would get people and drag them to the county commissioner’s meetings to apply for funds to get infected teeth pulled, etc. We made home visits – but only to people we knew about who wanted help. I had a friend (social worker) who was murdered by one of the folks he went on a home visit to offer services to, so not everyone is always happy to see you. The government (Reaganomics) disrupted all those services.

    Very sad.

      1. We will always have people who need help for one reason or another. The reality is that we are a large and complex society now and we no longer have communities looking out for people.

        When I worked in rural Idaho I had to create networks out of nothing and the garbage dump was a treasure trove for redistribution of things that could furnish homes. No one would do this anymore. I literally took training on the effective utilization of resources from the local garbage dump.

        Times have changed.

  7. Rumpy, lawyers are paid a pittance for each disability claim. The only way to make money off of it is to do bulk work. The money comes as a percentage paid out only at the time of the award. There are many times a lawyer is paid nothing at all because he or she cannot make the disability claim fly.

      1. It is easy to hate lawyers. We are probably more hated than the poor.

        Most people have no idea how much work goes into a project, how many other people a lawyer supports (overhead) and how often lawyers get stiffed (LOTS) for their work. Nor the fact that in cases such as SSI and SSDI that the claim must be paid out in order for the lawyer to get a dime. All the work done is unpaid until or unless the case is approved by the disability determination unit.

        Most lawyers make less than $50k a year while working 100+ hours a week.

        When I handled a relative’s SSDI claim it was one of the most time-intensive, fact gathering, records amassing, telephone call and letter writing cases I’d ever had. If I had been paid for it (I waived payment) I’d have made less than minimum wage. What lawyers do in the case of SSI or SSDI is create a paper trail demonstrating total and permanent disability – but we can only present what we can get from the client and the client’s doctors or relatives in the form of medical records and affidavits.

        Just in case you wondered. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, unfortunately.

  8. This is incredibly tragic and becoming all too common in this, the wealthiest nation on Earth. The U.S. also has the distinction of being a highly-developed country with the greatest wealth gap. Part of the problem is that many people just don’t vote; while others fall for the line that trickle-down economics works, or if we prevent gays from getting married and ensure everyone has a Christian bible in their homes, then everything else will just fall into place. This current system is unsustainable. At some point soon, people are going to start waking up, and the repercussions for our national leaders and security will be brutal.

  9. Amen! “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

  10. Thank you so much Rumpy and Jen for writing this! I’m disable and had to fight for my disability. It took 3 appeals and a court case over 2 years. I do get Medicaid and food stamps. I have found that a lot of information that people need is hiding. No one knows who or where to call for help. I have wonderful friends who help though. But some of them help by doing something they think is nice but really isn’t what I need. I do appreciate it but I wish they would listen. Now with the new health system the state has, I have to travel 58 miles round trip for a doctor’s appointment because no one closer takes this insurance. There are no buses that will go that far so I have to get rides. It’s not easy but I do the best I can.

  11. thank you for writing this, Jen and Rumpy. i can understand what this couple went through, as i struggle every month to make ends meet. yes, i have family but they seem to feel that helping Mom is not necessary, which hurts. i live on disability and in this part of British Columbia, the food bank is run by the Salvation Army. according to them my income is TOO high (less than 900.00 a month) so i don’t bother. we are fortunate here that we have a “Share Shed” at the local landfill, sometimes people drop stuff off that is resellable, and occasionally i have found groceries there (still store sealed, and edible). my last great find (at least to me) was 1/2 a box of kitty litter, and since i care for 3 fur babies, that helped to get through the last week of the month. today, again i was lucky, the lady who cleans vacated apartments found a bunch of cleaning supplies left behind by the former tenant. it isn’t much in the big scheme of things but the few dollars it saves can go towards something else. unfortunately i find that it is easier to get helped for a sick or injured animal than it is to get help for our fellow human beings. sad world we are living in.

  12. This story made me almost cry….nowadays people easily waste food , water and electricity, because of some reasons like they are full, the quality of the food are not good or they forget them in the frige….they forget pull off the plug…..but still there are so many people who need something to eat, water, and electricitty………Aren’t there long term supports that help those people with some welfare? Very sad…….

  13. Things like this should never happen in America. Just breaks my heart. What puzzles me is that some people get assistance that does not need it and some who desperately need it either have to wait months or years for help or never get it at all. So sad this couple had to resort to what they did because no one would help them.

      1. Here where we live there are some, most get caught eventually but some people just know how to work the system.

      2. I think that sometimes we’re quick to judge people as scammers because they don’t act the way we think they should. But studies of people living in poverty finds that they are NOT scammers at all but lack the skills you take for granted.

      3. I think you have misunderstood what I was talking about. I am not judging anyone and I am not speaking of the poor in general. I speak only of those few I have personally known about where the people are drawing disability checks and they were not disabled and very capable of working a job and had been working at a steady job until they decided they didn’t want to any longer. But they were able to get a check within three months. I don’t understand how they were able to qualify for a check at all let alone get their first check in such a short time.

        And then I know others who are disabled and not able to work at all but it took them two years to get their first check and some never got a check.

        When I see stories like you posted about where people really needed help and couldn’t get it I get angry because I do personally know some people who get assistance who really don’t need help.

        The system is broken and needs to be fixed where when people truly need help they can get it quickly and those who don’t need it can’t get it at all.

      4. Actually when I think of people getting assistance that don’t need it, I think of huge corporate farms that get government subsidies. Or telecom companies that are making their fortunes off computer networks developed with government grants and investments. And don’t even get me started on the banks that committed mortgage fraud, got bailouts, and are now making record profits all without paying any substantial penalties for their crimes.

        I’m not usually conspiracy minded. But it seems quite suspicious that multi billion dollar news agencies are trying to convince us that poor people are stiffing tax payers while failing to provide hard-hitting coverage of corporate abuses of taxpayers.

  14. We had a neighbor in my neighbor who had a similar experience (tho his issue was electricity). At the end of his rope, he asked for help from the neighborhood community digital board and strangers helped him with a GoFundMe page. Sure, some questioned his integrity but I happily donated thinking that by asking strangers for help that he needed that money more than I did even if it was a scam. People are so jaded anymore and our technology has contributed to our isolation, I fear. That said, sometimes, the poor just really don’t know where to turn and that seems doubly sad to me. You don’t know what you don’t know. 😦 Rest in peace Jodi and Randy.

  15. By your sharing this you let us know what Jodi and Randy had to go through, where we need to get to work on making sure there are no more Jodi’s and Randi’s and may be the right persons will read this and be able to do their part to help others in the world like them. We know what’s wrong, your list was accurate, now let’s see what is being done that’s working to help and Expand, promote and make it better!

  16. Reblogged this on As I see it and commented:
    Is there a way you can help folks like Jodi and Randy in your corner of the world? There lives and deaths need to mean something more than suffering like they did.

  17. What a horrific story. And your question is one I often ask myself.

    I believe it is a horrible side effect of our culture’s insisting that everyone can be rich if they want to be. It’s just not true.

    In my work doing financial counseling, I find poor people work very hard to keep body and soul together. And they deserve a lot of credit.

    As for the hatred for people who “game the system,” I don’t understand why it’s so unevenly applied. Where is the universal outrage at rich people who do the same thing? Millions of cases of mortgage fraud cost our country far more than so called welfare fraud.

  18. i read this story, last night, and it broke my heart. Why is it that society really doesn’t seem to care about those that are hurting? I’ve seen people who are given thousands of dollars because they were humiliated by some people and it was filmed and put on YouTube. I’ve heard of people who fake illnesses and fundraisers are done. Just recently, my husband was out sick for a month and we were hurting financially. I did a gofundme page. One of his sisters found out and told my husband to “man up” as family helps family and we don’t go to anyone else for help. She didn’t help us and I can’t forgive her for how she treated my husband and family. So many people have pat answers and love to be condescending. But, they don’t want to help. When my daughter was murdered a few years back, I was amazed at the number of people who wanted to help us out (neighbors included). Maybe this couple would still be alive if people would have known or, at the least, gotten to know them. My sympathies to their family. I hope they are in a better place….

    1. Humans are fickle. I’m guessing your sister is more concerned with people finding out she didn’t help you than in your husband “manning up.”

  19. It’s such a sad story. It seems that lots of countries are cutting back on welfare but not chasing the large corporations that avoid paying taxes.

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