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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

The poor pay more

News isn’t new for hardest-hit

What does [Washington Post reporter] Deneen Brown know about being poor? [“Why the poor pay more,” Close-up, May 20.] Nothing in her article is news to anyone who grew up in the projects, stood in line at food banks, cheated the bus driver out of 17 cents (before the automated systems that count every penny) or stooped to stealing toilet paper from the library.

The poor have always had it harder than the rest of us. The difference is that the poor are better equipped to deal with hardship and a sour economy has nothing on them. Why are you featuring poor people now? Their problems are not new and human-services workers have long lamented the many injustices perpetuated against these people that business owners and our own government condone. By the way, not all poor people are black.

Yes, we now have some regulations against predatory lending, but we need more, and our welfare system is still in need of an overhaul. In the mid 1980s, as a working single mother earning only $7.50 per hour, I was “qualified” for just $50 in food stamp assistance — hardly worth the seven pages of forms and verification I had to provide. And although I had medical insurance at the time, I could not afford to pay the out-of-pocket expense for the Albuterol I needed and ended up in the hospital. Yes, the poor pay more for health care!

Brown’s article does hit home on one point though — the poor have a lot of time.

Use it wisely, brothers and sisters. Arm yourself with knowledge. Learn about interest rates, banking systems and don’t get comfortable. You deserve much more than a faster ride to the nearest public laundry. Work hard. Listen and learn. It’s a scary world right now, but we can handle it. Been there, done that.

— Barbara G. Caceres, Kent

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