Money Problems

What problems can money create?

When I first heard this question my immediate answer was: money can create domestic problems as well as economic problems; it can affect a person at home and an entire community of people at once.

Then I looked at my current read in class, The Grapes of Wrath, and thought of the Joads’ unfortunate lives. The family had to leave their home (or farm) due to the Dust Bowl, and started to separate as they migrated to (and lived in) California . Also, in the novel, it spoke of hoe hundreds of  thousands of farmers lost their jobs from all over the Midwest (from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas), and became poor because of not being able to grow crops and earn any profits.

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A Migrant Farm Family In California by Dorothea Lange [Public Domain]
An example of a Joad family member drifting away would be Noah, the eldest brother, leaving the family to live along to the Colorado River. In chapter 18, Tom tries to dissuade Noah from leaving, but in the end, he can’t persuade him: he, “watch[es] Noah grow smaller on the edge of the river, until he disappear[s] into the willows” (209). When Tom tells Ma of Noah’s departure, Ma said worriedly, “The family’s fallin’ apart” (Steinbeck 216). This quote from Ma would be repeated throughout the novel as she worries for her family.

While reading through the Grapes of Wrath, I also realized that money can also create bad conditions for poor people; which can then create health problems. For example, Sari Wilson, a migrant who accompanied the Joads for a while, became ill and no one was able to help her. No one had any medical resources or money to help her, and their horrible conditions made them unable to find any help (they were in a desert). Sari described her illness as “jus’ pain covered with skin” (219), and knew she “wouldn’t live to [see] the other side [California]” (218).

I also read an article called “ On Dumpster Diving” was written by Lars Eighner in my English Language of Composition textbook. It spoke of a man being homeless with his dog for three years and learned the “practical art of Dumpster diving” (422). At one point, he also explains how one can find edible foods from dumpsters. He also points out the dangers of contracting botulism, food poisoning caused by bacteria (usually from canned foods); saying that it “is almost certainly fatal and often, the first symptom is death” (423). So, if the food is not properly and thoroughly inspected, one can contract the disease and easily die.

This new information helped me realize that people who live in poverty can easily die due to illnesses contracted by their surroundings; it can result from what they ate to where they lived or resided in.

Another article I read called, “What the Bagel Man Saw” which speaks from a bagel salesman’s point of view. It talks about how the payment rate was starting to decline more and more, and how Paul F., the salesman, has to also worry about and keep an eye on those who rob him of his bagels.

He says, “Unfortunately, the number of bagels and doughnuts that disappear without being paid for has gone up. Don’t let that continue. I don’t imagine you would teach your children to cheat, so why do it yourselves?” (445). This made me realize that the decline of money can also cultivate the negative aspects of human characteristics, like greed and theft. The question asked by Paul also made me think, do people really think about the future while they are stealing, or are they only invested in the present act? 

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I think that they are only thinking about the food or item they are trying to swipe, not of the example they are setting to their children. But, I think that they should think about that before they hastily try to steal something from someone.

So, yes, poverty can cause someone to participate in criminal actives, like stealing or robbing. But then I thought, can it create violence?

It is said that “on average, the more time a youth spends at school the less violent he/she will become. Schools don’t just teach you about history or maths, they teach you how to live in society” (nationaldialoguenetwork.org). So if people are so poor that their children are unable to get the necessary materials to go to school, what happens? Well, if they are old enough, they may be able to find a job, but how will they get one if they don’t know the social etiquette needed to impress interviewers, and acquire and keep their jobs. 

Like the writer of the article, “Poverty and Crime: Breaking the Vicious Cycle”,  said: “Crime has this capacity to generate vicious cycles causing unemployment, economic downturns and instability. Poverty and crime combined together leave people with two choices: either take part in criminal activities or try to find legal but quite limited sources of income – when there are any available at all” (poverties.org).

How intense can violence be due to money problems? It can lead to war, if it comes to it. For example Germany, in the post-World War I era, was in a lot of debt due to the damage repairs and the Treaty of Versailles. The Young Plan also “reduced German reparation payments by 50%, to 112 billion Gold Marks to be paid over a period of 59 years” (boundless.com).

These conditions provided the chance for Adolf Hitler to rise to power. German citizens started to feel a large rise in nationalism, and Germany started to gain power. They started to take more and more lands, and finally as a result, Europe, France, and the Soviet Union had to get involved; which then started World War II.

So, in all, not only does money create problems for a household or community, but can also cause illnesses, criminal activity, violence, and a war.

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