Friday, November 02, 2012

Disasters, Climbing Mountains, and the Poor

I'm not a mountain climber, but it seems it me mountain climbing is a good metaphor for being poor, and disasters.

Imagine a big high mountain and the game of life is to try to climb it.  The mountain has various nooks and crannies, easier routes and harder routes, and most of all it has a lot of loose stones, so it's very easy for a climber to dislodge a stone which falls, sometimes triggering more rock falls.  Now where you start on the mountain is a matter of luck, your ancestors and your inheritance.  Some people just find a cranny near their starting point and rest there.  Others are able to make mad sprints up an easy route. But most people toil away at whatever level they're at on the mountain.

Unfortunately, as they toil they knock the stones off, the stones go bouncing down the side and they can hit the people below, knocking them backwards down the mountain.

The poor are at the lowest levels of the mountain and therefore have the longest climb and face the most stones falling down.  That's life, that's unfair, that's disaster.

Thinking of filing insurance claims for damage caused by Sandy, that assumes people have insurance.  But the poor are less likely to have insurance, that's a luxury you can't afford  Lose all the food in your refrigerator; that's particularly hard if your food budget is tight.  Lose the car to the flooding, unlikely to have comprehensive insurance.  Have the apartment flooded, no renters insurance. The local restaurant is flooded, lose weeks of work as dishwasher or waiter until it gets going again.

No comments: