* “Chaos Overwhelms the Poor”

Yahoo! Voices has released my latest piece:

Chaos Overwhelms the Poor
10/18/2013
“Personal failings” and “an environment that is not conducive to success” so interact that many poor folk come into a state of self-generated, self-perpetuating crisis.  Personal failings can be outgrown, however, and untoward circumstances transcended.

For the moment, this is my definitive expression on the subject.

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* I’m getting interviews!

Yesterday at noon I had an interview for a Program Assistant position at a medical professional society downtown. This is straightforward secretarial work, and if I get hired will be $15.00/hour 40 hours/week. Thus my gross pay would be $600/week.

I have another interview on Tuesday, October 15, for a Secretary II position at a City agency. I am well familiar with this agency from my previous work with the City, and the job is located just a few blocks from the shelter. The pay would be the same.

(I observe that secretaries’ pay hasn’t changed since 2006.)

An income of $600/week has been my long-range financial goal for a long time. I figured out several years ago, long before Obamacare was ever conceived, that this income level was the threshold for my being able to buy my own comprehensive health insurance. Also, now I will be able to give $60/week to church! But will I be able to get my own place?

Or instead merely take my place among the working homeless?

I want to get a little studio or efficiency apartment in Washington Hill, a nice neighborhood located midway between my church and downtown. Then I’d be able to walk to and from work, and to and from church also. But will I be able to get that for $600/month? (The rule of thumb is that one month’s rent should not exceed one week’s pay.)

Affordable housing is a big issue in Baltimore, one I’ve heard a lot about, but have not personally had to face till now.

I’d rather not get a “room”; I just spent five years in a rooming house prior to becoming homeless, and am not eager to go back to the “drama” such places offer.

The other question I’m asking is spiritual: Do I deserve these opportunities now? Have I earned them? Have I done the work that my homelessness was meant to do? I recall having had the sense in January that my fortunes were about to turn around; that homelessness for me had accomplished its purpose. Maybe I’ve been homeless long enough. It’s been 2½ years.

Marketing strategies, part 3

Every month I send my brothers an e-mail to catch them up on the latest news in my life. The quote below comes from the one I’m sending them today. This is definitely not the last word on the matter. The detailed response I promised at first is still to come.

Brian and others have suggested I rebrand myself online as “The Homeless Blogger.”  Then my work might get more of the attention they think it deserves.  But I don’t want to be “The Homeless Blogger.”  I want to be William Tell the talk show host (New idea: a homeless talk show host?), William Tell the secretary or cashier or grocery store clerk.  I want to become one of the 53%, and a.s.a.p.  Ironically, once I do enter the 53%, I’ll probably still be homeless.

Previous post: Marketing strategies, part 2: Streams in the desert

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* Sneak peek

Thanks to the reader who sent me this link:

Poor people aren’t stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds

I am preparing a substantial response and should have it ready to publish a few weeks from now.  In the meantime, I thought others might be interested in the original article.

* The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 “Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’[”]

On the one hand, I don’t believe Jesus ever said these words. (Link) On the other hand, I firmly believe in the principles expressed, and will have occasion to refer to this text many times.

My record cannot be expunged

Yesterday I researched expungement in Maryland.  My conviction was in mid-October 2010, and I’d understood one could get a misdemeanor expunged after three years, so I was hoping to take care of that now.  Turns out there is no expungement of any guilty verdict, except in the case of any of a long list of truly trivial nuisance crimes, e.g. urinating in public or not paying one’s fare on the subway.  To clear my record, I must apply for a pardon, for which I become eligible only after five years of being arrest-free after the end of probation (Oct. 2011).  The paperwork is extensive.  One’s application must include copies of one’s high school and college diplomas, any discharge from bankruptcy, and certified copies of one’s driving record from any state in which one has ever had a license (as in my case, Ohio until 1978).

So for the time being, until October 2016, my one (1) misdemeanor conviction will continue to bar me from employment with many of Maryland’s largest employers.

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