Paycheck to Paycheck

Black news from Pasadena - Editorial - On Paycheck to Paycheck documentaryThanks to the economic times we live in, there are millions of families living paycheck to paycheck. One person expresses it this way when she says, “The economic burden of one flat tire could cause them to have to become poverty stricken and homeless.” Former California first lady, Maria Shriver took a look at this economic phenomena in a documentary made for an HBO television special entitled, Paycheck to Paycheck. A preview was presented on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Television Network.

The preview presented us with how one spins into poverty. A profile of who the special is talking about might have a single mother with three children, having a single income, or as in many cases, three part-time incomes equivalent to one. With three or more children, a parent has to worry about getting and keeping enough food and, very important, education. Education is a two way street. You’ve got to get education for the children and for yourself in order to get better job opportunities. That costs money.

Also, the parent is likely to have transportation difficulties in getting to and from work. After the food, transportation and education concerns, there is the cost and availability of health care. Here, the problem is complicated because President Obama has gotten Obamacare through. It is now the law of the land and is affordable and available for everyone, but the Republicans are hell-bent on destroying it.

The question is, why do the Republicans want to make it unavailable? I say it is simply because they will have to acknowledge that it is potentially the great American equalizer and it is the brainchild of a Black man who they have a deep-seated hatred for.

In the short preview of the Oprah network show, it was clear to me that the absence of a husband and father in the lives of the family was a major factor. Two incomes come with a husband, or at least it should. Keeping your economic head above water also means fighting off depression, keeping your self-esteem and some sense of pride. The show featured a mother who got some highlights and a new outfit, and many asked how she could afford that! It’s called keeping up your self-esteem, in order to survive mentally and emotionally.

The preview also showed a blended family with a few children and the father being proud of his wife who was about to finish college. The wife declared that they were out of poverty because they had one daughter in college. They were surviving with the father’s approximately $20,000 a year income as a construction worker. In this case, the mother even volunteered as a social worker so she could give back.

In a sense, the father who worked as much as he could was “BEING THE MAN.” He did his best at working his skill and staying with the family. A few weeks ago Oprah did a series on men and children with absent fathers and the lifelong negative impact on the child’s life. To me the two subjects are connected. I simply ask the men who read this, “Are you BEING THE MAN in your family’s life?”

The children in this phenomena had an interesting take on their roles in living paycheck to paycheck. If they got sick at daycare or at school, they would say to the person in charge, and I paraphrase, “Don’t call my mother to pick me up, she needs her job.”

Everybody seems to have had a role to play. Grandparents are the backup, economically and psychologically, when things get really rough. Savings don’t exist. To women who read this, I say make good choices in choosing your mate.

At least he can be there to help with the family he enjoyed helping you to create.