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Last year, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly did a segment on poverty where he asserted that “poverty will not change until personal behavior does,” explaining that anti-poverty work will never overcome “addictive behavior, laziness, [and] apathy.”
In many ways, the segment sums up a widely-held myth constructed by the right that people who struggle to make ends meet don’t want to work. But in reality, people are working harder and harder for less and less, and all we have to do is listen to the stories of everyday Americans to see the truth.
Take Andrew, for instance. Andrew is 25. He works in retail in San Francisco and has long been searching for full-time employment, but has only been able to find part-time work with sporadic scheduling and low wages. Andrew finds it impossible to budget his monthly expenses or plan ahead.
We need an economic system that guarantees not only a job, but a good job for everyone that wants one. The Center for Community Change believes we can achieve this by raising the wage floor, incentivizing employers to create better working conditions and protecting people’s right to organize and bargain on the job.
For Andrew, a good job with consistent hours would mean that he could budget in the amount of money he sends home every month to support his father’s healthcare costs. For others, it would mean planning for a secure retirement or sending their kids to college.
It’s up to us to share our experiences and tell the true story of what it means to struggle to get by in America. Only when we stand together and speak out can we start to move forward and create real change. Visit OurStoriesOurPower.org to view other people’s economic justice stories, share your own, and empower others to do the same.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.