The poor getting more poor

Recently, I read a news article in the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant, about a journalist, who went undercover and worked at the callcenter of the Wehkamp, an online retail company selling fashion, interior, beauty products, electronics, and toys. He wrote about the low pay and the strict rules and supervision. But also, about customers who bought products and paid for them in installments, which is basically a loan with an interest of 14%. They were also allowed to borrow money with the same amount of interest. It reminded me of something what happened during my childhood. 

When we wanted to buy a bed at Wehkamp, I thought paying in installments was better than spending such a big amount of money at once. Bad thinking, because I forgot about my dad who spends money like water. I don't know if it is because he was spoiled to death since he was born and he is used to living in a wealthy household, but he has some really bad money habits. He treats everybody he meets to drinks, lunch, and dinners (because he enjoys being worshipped like a boss). He also buys the most expensive thing in the store (he doesn't know much about the products, but the most expensive must be the best). He doesn't know what saving is and he doesn't think twice about spending money he borrowed. This kind of lifestyle would be okay if he was a bachelor and lived alone, but he is a husband and father, which basically means, he needs to grow up and face his responsibilities. Even though his upbringing in Yuen Long, a rural area in Hong Kong, thought him that women are worthless and should have no say in things, convincing him to pass the control over the family finances over to my mom (in other words, me) was the best decision of my life. I was a child prodigy and I learned everything from the books in the library, but the books don't teach you everything about life. I sorted out all the bills, figured out what our fixed and variable costs are, what we can save on, and what we can spend per month. But I made mistakes too and paying in installments was one of them. We missed paying an installment (because my dad spend too much again) and it got harder and harder to pay the following installments. We got in so much trouble that we had to resort to borrow money from Wehkamp to pay off our debt at Wehkamp. I still remember talking to a man from the callcenter of Wehkamp about the payments. As a kid, I didn't know how to get us out of this trouble and I was desperate. At first, he and his direct colleagues loudly laughed at me for suggesting to take a loan from them to pay off a previous loan. This really pissed me off, as it is the same laughter that the group of psychos and bullies have, when they mentally and physically torment me on a daily basis. However, he softened up and he told me that he isn't allowed to give me financial advice and the whole conversation is recorded. Since he was thinking about quitting his job anyway, he advised me to look into getting a negative bank account balance or getting a personal loan at the bank, which has lower interest rates. Although I managed to get lower interests on the loan, it still needed to get paid. In the end, I had to resort to personally ask my dad's boss to hand his salary in a sealed envelope so that he brings everything back to us and doesn't spend it all. I also begged him to pay out two months of salary ahead of time, just to make sure we pay everything off at once and not get more accumulated interest. We were lucky enough to have solved this problem without getting thrown out of our house and having all our possessions confiscated (drama queen!), but it was really a headache. 

Not just the Wehkamp, as there are plenty of other companies that prey on the poor and weak, who don't have the ability to manage their finances properly (it really should be a class taught at school). I don't agree with the people who say that poverty is their own choice or fault. Just like with #metoo, it is never their fault. How can it be your fault, when there is no way to get out of that shit? The possibilities of getting an out is not known or available to everyone. That you managed to get away without any repercussions is not something that happens to everyone. That you are mentally and physically strong enough to just say no and push the rapist away, doesn't mean everybody can. That you got financial support from your family to go study is not common. That you are smart is also not something that you have any control over. Some people are taught from young to think that resistence is futile and hard work doesn't pay off. And in many cases, it is the truth. It doesn't have to stay that way. As the current quarantine has shown us, we can delete the whole system and start building something new. 



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