I started pondering the case that living in poverty is almost a prison sentence in of itself, considering that people living in a state of poverty is similar to being in a state of incarceration, except without bars. Once you’re caught in poverty, like being caught in the criminal justice system, escape becomes increasingly difficult the more you become mired in it. Both poverty and criminality are sentences of sorts in that we live in a society that punishes people doubly for both.
Once you enter poverty or the Criminal Justice System, you are in it for life. The statistics of those whom escape poverty are a brutal 5-10%. The deck is stacked hopelessly against you. Once in poverty, you likely have your credit score impacted, you might have an eviction on your record, and maybe a car repossession. This severely restricts your ability to finding housing to less desirable and safe areas and to landlords whom don’t care about credit but will charge a lot of money because they can. Sometimes better employment will check credit history and that could deny you the option. The same thing with a criminal history, better employment remains out of reach.
Then to add insult to injury, you are forced to take public transportation to work often lengthening your workday by two or three hours. The daily cost of public transportation in some urban areas could outpace the daily cost of having a car to commute to work putting further strain on your paycheck. Those in poverty often pay more for staple groceries because they’re unable to easily and inexpensively get to cheaper grocery stores leaving the corner bodega the only option. And in a capitalist society, the corner store is going to squeeze blood from their captive audience.
If this is to be considered freedom, then I challenge you to consider how this situation is any different than actual imprisonment. Poverty often means living in unsafe areas and prison is far from safe. So when somebody tells you that at least you’re free, maybe you want to tell them that you’re really not. Society taxes the poor and usurious rates: mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. How is this freedom of any kind?