George Mantor | Poverty and Joy – A Christmas Story

Poverty and Joy

I drove by our emergency homeless center and swung around back. It hits me every time I go there. This time I burst into tears and had to sit in the car for a few minutes. I’ve seen it before, but this time of year makes it worse.

Lined up by the back door are about two dozen small bikes and strollers. Little bikes. A little Fuchsia colored bike that obviously belonged to a little girl.

How does that not tug at your heartstrings? I don’t even like kids. I don’t like being around them, the shrieking and screaming, and the “me, me, me”. I never wanted kids. I didn’t even like myself when I was a kid. I don’t feel like I missed anything. I baby sat a couple of times for friends and realized that this was not for me. When W. C. Fields was asked how he liked children he replied, “Crisp!”

So that is why it seems so strange to me to live in a country where people who actually like kids allow this to exist.

For all the talk about Christian values dominating this country, why is it that on the eve of an event involving a homeless family seeking shelter, it’s no longer an event rare enough to become the stuff of legends, 2000 years later it’s so common that no one notices. What would Jesus say about that? Suffer the little children?

We are a wealthy country and this is unnecessary, ergo, deliberate. We can fix it, but we won’t. Oh, I can just hear some of you screaming, “Socialist”.

Is that what I am? Because I don’t think a rich country should tolerate poverty? Well, then I guess I am a Socialist and I’ll tell you what I’ll do, if you name callers would get off of your gigantic bulbous asses and go fix the problem, I’ll let you tattoo a large red “S” right on my fucking forehead.

Women and children first. They once mattered. Now we have emergency shelters that can serve but a few. The rest live under freeways, out of sight.

I wonder where they were just before they came to the shelter? Hanging on by a thread, and then the thread broke.

I think a lot about poverty. It’s one of those things you don’t get over. My mother was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis when I was just a year old. My father passed away after a lengthy illness, when I was six.

My first home was foreclosed when I was seven years old. I was dragged, kicking and screaming out of the country and forced to become a city boy.

I’m a simple man and I’ll take country poverty over its urban cousin any day. In the country, the best anyone ever does is “get by”. So, if you are “just barely getting by”, it’s not so obvious. You don’t have to wear it around like an optic orange safety vest.

City poverty is segregated and regulated. The poorer you are, the closer you live to the gritty core, the railroad tracks or the freeway.

My mother was able to work during periods of remission, but It is worth noting that during those periods during which my mother could not work, we were able to “barely get by” on my father’s Veterans and Social Security survivor benefits. Is that socialism?

My mother was too proud and too independent to take “welfare” as she would disdainfully refer to it, but there was a time when we ran out of food.

My sister got hit by a car and broke her pelvis. There were additional unexpected expenses.

My mother was making bread rolls and came up short on the flour. Exhausted and disgusted she grabbed a couple of handfuls of corn meal and threw it in with very low expectations for the outcome.

The rolls were amazing! Their texture was soft and dense, almost like cake, and they gave off this wonderful bakery smell. There was just a hint of sweetness. For years, my mother attempted to replicate that recipe, but because she didn’t measure the original amount of corn meal, they were never quite the same.

Now desperate, my mother turned to the Salvation Army and borrowed seven dollars.

Even though it was just a loan, my mother was too embarrassed to go to our regular market, so we went to one several blocks away.

We bought dry beans, flour, and salt pork. When we got to the cashier and presented the check, she acted confused, picked up her microphone and asked the manager, over the intercom, how to handle the transaction. He boomed back, “Treat it just like welfare.”

I was thirteen. I remember the searing heat flaring up in me. I think that is the day I crossed over. I had long hair when the buzz cut was the style. I was wearing a ratty old parka that was semi ratty when I got it. I looked poor, I was poor, I lived poor, we just borrowed seven fucking dollars to avoid starvation, and we are publicly humiliated for it.

I’ve never stopped brooding about that. I’ve scraped the bottom and the taste is bitter.

I tell this story because most of the people who write about poverty are merely students of it; rarely participants. And to be sure, there are varying degrees of poverty, and this great land has all types in abundance.

According to a recent release of Census data, nearly half of Americans are now considered poor. The middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.

We fought a fifty year war on poverty and lost. Got beaten by it, and have apparently surrendered.

Now, 49 million Americans live in poverty – with 2.6 million falling into the category last year. That’s 16 percent of Americans.

16.2 million children are food insecure, as are 3 million seniors.

The one percent likes to dispute the significance of the data arguing that poor people are really much better off than the statistics reveal. Huh?

In essence, they say that Americans are faking poverty, and they deserve no better. So, I guess it is safe to conclude that we won’t be doing anything about it any time soon.

There will be more and more little bikes and strollers hidden away behind emergency shelters in the years to come. It is a tale of two cities; the one we wished we still lived in, Bedford Falls, and the one it has become, Pottersville. I find no joy in that.

George W. Mantor
The Real Estate Professor
Founder, American Foreclosure Resistance Movement

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi


19 Responses to “George Mantor | Poverty and Joy – A Christmas Story”
  1. Rebelwithaclause says:

    Ivent, thank you and thank you for your constant, intelligent, words of warning you have spelled out over & over. I read your comments often. This fight does come down to 1 final fight the united states of America constitution bill of rights. We have forgot them and their importance now we must defend. The great Thomas Jefferson gave us this protection & our rights, he predicted what would happen if we do not protect our constitution, he was right it is happening.

    • lvent says:

      Yes, Rebelwithaclause…WE ARE CHANGE!! We The People have to demand it…! We have to stop comforming and complying to this tyranny!

  2. Rebelwithaclause says:

    Merry Christmas to all of us & our families who have come to know each other fighting for our homes, families, dreams, health and our lives. Through this site & others alike, we have drawn strength, support, knowledge and COURAGE from each other. This is a freedom we must protect as we have our home, our constitution of rights. Freedom of speech & all bill of rights must be protected, used & cherished, we must use them or we will lose them. If not for the world wide web, the hunger for more information, facts, statistics , court rulings, bank & government greed and deceit would be so much harder for us to UNITE. Knowledge is protection, and exposure is a corporation’s fear.
    Thank you to the many brilliant writers, minds, & courageous people on this site. Your words, & wisdom have made me stronger, and smarter. I wish a very happy, & healthy new year to all in this world fight of greed. All the money in the world cannot do what your family by your side can do.
    We have to have change in this country, we must hold onto our liberty. I hope Ron Paul 2012 gets a chance to make our country great again.

  3. Sam Bellingham says:

    When the Titanic sinks Tim Geithner is going to push you out of the lifeboat. Merry Xmas Mr Potter!

  4. lvent says:

    All of their manufactured heartache and strife can’t ruin the Spirit of Christmas..! Merry Christmas Everyone!

  5. qwester says:

    Robert’s anti-American mush and the insipid comments are trivial and do nothing but reinforce the status quo that brought those bikes and strollers to the rear of the homeless center. They were either donations or discards put outside because they take up too much room inside where the homeless are being sheltered. Poverty is the necessary filter of human life experience which motivates many, many millions to succeed. Without poverty there would be a large percentage, maybe all of these successful individuals, who would live off the system rather than work. When there is no shame to poverty many others would scam the system also. The shame of poverty is the filter that makes the homeless shelter possible for it limits demand to the truly needy. They should feel no shame if they came upon their situation honestly. We all have our ups and downs but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and smarter. It’s the smarter part that we ignore but hunger and discomfort and the disdain of the well to do are the greatest fundamental teachers. Pity and indulgence teach indolence and greed. The least generous are street people who demand unearned indulgences because they want to find easy street. There are no easy street people. The rich and powerful are so because they can be and they know that generosity has bad rewards if it does not produce a sense of cooperative obligation in the receiver rather than a sense of triumph over an evil enemy which is what the Occupy movement promises. If that movement is successful in the least it will be to the detriment of the poor and needy because it will curtail the donations and gifts that sustain the homeless shelter. There will be fewer jobs because fewer businesses will risk their CAPITAL on expanding into a culture where even a peaceful occupation is an accepted political undertaking. In totalitarian regimes mass protest is the only effective communication with the oppressor and each other. In our system, free speech and assembly are most effective when used among ourselves to form like minded groups and present our common position to our ELECTED representatives. If public demonstrations are a necessary and continuously successful method of communication with our Congress persons it can only mean that either the postal service, the media, and the internet have failed or that the demands of the protesters are impossible. Emigrants are rare here because our system works well. It does leave up to 49 percent of the population unhappy some of the time. That’s the Democracy part at work.

    • Bob Degenovah says:

      Agreed. Homelessness is a good thing, it motivates the lazy. People shouldn’t be envious of those who worked hard for what they have. I hope in the new year the bleeding hearts are thrown from their jobs, and their homes. The incessant whining about others sucess is very troubling to this patriot. Pay your bills and get out of your houses, you communist deadbeats. Jamie Dimon is right, you are all in need of permanent debt relief.

    • Ebenzer Saunders says:

      Yes. Let’s make people suffer more, that will strengthen them up. It always does motivate welfare types when they are faced with not having free food. Come on, you think the people that started McDonald’s lost their homes? No way Sam! They worked hard and made their home payments by selling food, without asking for handouts from anyone. You take the average homeowner today – why can’t they start their own McDonald’s or Bank? I’ll tell you why, It’s because they are lazy losers who are too dumb to do it – It’s all about the free houses, health care, saving the environment and jealousy of the rich.
      Anyway, once a homeowner is out on the street, they don’t complain. I think JP Morgan once said this, and wow, what an American he was.

    • Fury says:

      bah humbug.
      you are a very twisted person, qwester.

      poverty helps people succeed? does that include starving children?

      poverty is NOT a necessary filter of human life experience. it is not necessary AT ALL.

      we as a nation, have the money to wipe out poverty. it would be noble to do so.

      how terrible that you choose chirstmas day to spread your propaganda.

      you’re crazy.

      • Fury says:

        typo correction: christmas day.

        the birth of christ.

        “the meek shall inherit the earth.”

        “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

        qwester, i didn’t even finish reading your comment because the first part was so abhorrent.

    • lvent says:

      qwester and Bob, I know satan does not take a day off but seriously, I will pray that both of you get the spiritual and mental help that you both really need!

  6. David Robert says:

    – everything that happens in our lives we decide what meaning we will give it. It is those meanings that control how we will act. It is in our moments of decision that our destinies are shaped.

    The past does NOT equal the future, unless you live there, in the past that is.

    Love your family, choose your friends, choose wisely, as you will become who you spend time with.

    There are only (2) emotions, love and fear. Our heart is 4000 times more powerful that our brain. Your heart will never lie to you, you can bet the cattle ranch that you brain will.

    The driving force in our lives is pain and pleasure, we will do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure.

    Most are motivated by inspiration or desperation.

    When one figures out the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment their lives take on a whole new meaning. Life sucks when its all about us (ie) “me”. If you want to live your life beyond your wildest dreams make your life about serving others.

    What would you do if you had more courage?

    What would you do if you knew you could NOT fail?

    Here is a pearl of wisdom, ask a quality question, you’ll get a quality answer.


  7. banksterslayer#301 says:

    “You must make injustice visible.”~Mohandas Gandhi

    “Love one another.”~Yeshua

  8. Fury says:

    george mantor is a powerful writer.

    i went to 2 christmas eve church services tonight.

    in both churches, there was a message about “justice” and “peace on earth.”

    it makes me even more determined to seek justice not only for my own family but for all others, too.

    the kids who are in strollers and riding little bikes don’t have the power but we do.

  9. Christie Hobo says:

    Look, we still have a lot of work to do before we can consider ourselves civilized, things are so badly arranged it can only get better. Even though people are being pushed around, ejected and made homeless, it’s the indifference of the status quo that will guarantee their obsolescence.

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