Conservatives are notorious, and rightly so, for generally dismissing the working poor as “low time-preference” or “unwilling to do what it takes to get out of poverty”. This comes in the form of ridiculous statements very similar to the title of this post.
The working poor can’t save up enough for a reliable car while taking very unreliable public transit, which is all that’s available in most parts of America. A reliable car, in my experience in both high and low COL areas, costs about $2500 in cash. That is the lowest reasonable amount to guarantee a low maintenance, sub 100k mile car that is reliable for someone with little mechanical knack. Most working poor can save about $200 per month on paychecks from two part-time jobs totalling $1500-2000 per month. This means it would take about a year to save up enough to get that reliable car.
Problem is, I just noted the public transit they have to use to get to work isn’t reliable. So what happens is that many working poor hold multiple jobs concurrently, constantly swapping in a new part-time job to replace the one they lost not due to “bad attitude” or any of the other loving, Christian terms conservatives throw around, but due to being late one too many times when public transit is flaky. They mostly can’t get full-time jobs for this reason, and part-time jobs vary in tolerating the episodic lateness of public transit, often kicking the worker to the curb after a few months. Well, if you can’t even reliably make that $1500-2000 a month because you’re always hustling for a new second or third job, you can’t save the $200/month consistently either.
Further, because of the commute logistics, it’s very difficult to even manage crockpot cooking with the scheduling flux and transportation instability. So the working poor eat a lot of quick food even when they have cooking skills because it’s safer and more consistent.
Conservatives should spend more time thinking through the situations people are actually in when making bootstrap arguments. No, every working poor person is not some brave single mother of three working nine jobs. But many are single adults working two or three jobs as often as they can take a bus to them and struggling to have more than a few hundred dollars put by because without saner transit solutions, it’s extremely difficult to get to a financial level that permits them to purchase a reliable enough car to get more stable part-time or be eligible for full-time jobs with better prospects. And no, it’s not easier to lug 100 pounds of beans and rice home and crockpot them up. That is a favorite of conservatives, the imaginary poor person who easily can carry a 50lb sack of beans and a 50lb sack of rice home via public transit.
A great many conservatives have a veil of sweet amnesia over the frankly better circumstances they had if they were once working poor and this leads them to create all sorts of bizarre and mean motives for the working poor remaining so when the reality is often quite ordinary. Reality is biased, just not in a conservative or liberal direction.