Marketplace on NPR had a piece on a poverty simulator class for social workers in the San Diego. They host a Wealth and Poverty Desk, and have done a number of segments on what it is to be poor in our country. We hear things like “food stamps” and “Head Start,” but for those of us who don’t need these programs, it’s difficult to understand what choices are involved. For those on tight budgets, each money decision comes with consequences.
To get a taste, visit Marketplace’s Poverty Simulator. You can try managing a family of four living on $1900 a month. You can choose a car, or public transportation, select from a number of bills you wish to pay, and you can pay for child care, or health insurance. If you want to try to get ahead, the program gives you opportunities to attend a public college or online for-profit college courses. But it’s evident that the money runs out quick, and that educational opportunities, even the normal bills, soon seem out of reach.
Marketplace notes that a true Poverty Simulator activity is much more complicated. Participants soon get fired because they are late when they take public transportation. Just when participants think they are doing okay, reality sets in. They have their hours cut. They get ill.
We learn that safety net is something that not everybody gets to enjoy.