Years ago I was listening to a black radio host talking about this. He was focused more on the poor black community, but his comments could apply to poor whites as well. He said that because they see the bigger goals -- house, college education -- unattainable, they don't even bother trying. So they spend their disposable income on stupid, flashy things, like grills for their teeth, gold jewelry, electronics, soupin' up their cars, etc. Low income people often don't have the financial know-how/education to see the wisdom in setting aside one's wants in order to work toward a bigger goal. So because they see it as futile, they give up and just have fun with their money.<quoted text>
Yeah, I got really bummed at a car place in the spring. There was a young gal there (maybe young 20s) that seemed very nice. We chatted awhile. She had lots of gold on, perfectly manicured hands and toes, a Coach bag, Aeropostale shirt, I forget what brand shoes and jeans (but nothing cheap). She was telling me how her baby daddy's (note: her phrase, not mine) new girlfriend put sugar in her gas tank. She also told me about her food stamps.
I looked down at my chipped nails, my Fashion Bug shorts and Wal-Mart shirt, my Payless shoes and my Target pocketbook and really felt like I am doing something really wrong. At least I didn't have sugar in my gas tank, I guess.
This guy was working to go into the inner cities and poor communities to educate them as to their *choices* with their money. And he said it wasn't just low income people making these kinds of choices -- middle class blacks were guilty of it, too.
Interesting stuff. He had a degree of sympathy and understanding, because he'd heard their stories, but he also felt like, "Come on, people, there are things available to you if only you want them badly enough."