The common idea is that poor people are worse off because the problems they face are particularly cruel to their way of life. This in terms of rich and poor is mostly correct. However, I pose a question that is of a different context. What if the problems that people with more face are of a higher “quality” or “difficulty”. For instance if a rich man owned a business and he was under investigation for fraud, he could potentially lose his whole business. Millions of dollars to loss and public fallout. This in comparison to a poor mans problems can be put into perspective. The poor man if problems came his way like those mentioned above with the rich man would simply lose his house which was most likely not worth much to begin with and having no public fallout except for related family.
Vice versa, a poor mans problems can be significantly worse depending on the situation. For instance, a very poor man could be so poor he will lose his home, money, and have nothing to eat thus putting his life in jeopardy. A rich man would lose much, but some resources and education would still be in place so that he can survive and not starve or go through otherwise particularly tough situations.
Even though the rich have much to lose and the poor have much to gain, the poor are closer to losing the most important thing they have and that is their life. This is why with more money problem “difficulty” doesn’t go up it simply becomes more complex to handle. Aaron Gilbreath touches on this situation in his essay Driving the San Joaquin Valley. In paragraph four lines 1-7 Aaron talks about the San Joaquin Valley and how 250 crops are grown in the area. He adds information such as “Valley agriculture grosses over $25 billion annually.” to describe the wealth the businesses, who work with these crops, can bring in. Aaron then explains the drought situation and the complex problems the farmers have to deal with accordingly, “Right now, the region is suffering one of the worst droughts in a century…. Farmers received little to no surface water, so many drilled new wells and irrigated crops with groundwater.” By explaining what the farmers did to prevent total shut down he showed the quality of problems that the people with more money have to face.
As mentioned, men who have much to lose are not as close to death as those who are trying to survive. The poor have bigger problems to face such as starvation and death. As seen in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck migrant workers or the poor people of society, fight for life. They have huge tasks at hand such as food and shelter so they can keep alive after they were forced off their land back in the mid-eastern states such as Oklahoma. Steinbeck describes the situation as so, “The migrant people, scuttling for work, scrabbling to live, looked always for pleasure,..”. The fact that these poor people constantly looked for pleasure, by itself shows they are close to death because they need an escape from the hard life they are living.
In addition to being closer to death, the poor are trampled over because the rich do not want to give up their position of wealth making their problems even more difficult and even making new problems for the poor in the process. “Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry.” A perfect sentence for the reality of the poor, life is hard if they try and life is hard if they don’t.
Finally, from chapter 7 of The Language of Composition we see the evidences of difficult problems faced by the lower class or “the poor”. In an essay called A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, we can further see the harsh realities that face those on the bottom of the barrel. He talks about the struggles of poor mothers who seek survival for their infants, “These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants…”. The struggle for survival is a much bigger problem than the struggle to keep a business afloat so that resources will not be depleted.
If one’s life is lost, their is nothing left to fight for making is extremely of a greater importance. And, although Jonathan Swift lived in the early 1700s, these ideas were still the same. The only reason that a rich man’s problems may seem greater is the fact that is is dramatized a great deal more. Why? Because the rich person has a reputation or status to constantly feed. In addition, more people might be affected. For instance, if a business fails the workers would suffer to. In this case, because it would affect more poor people than rich, the problem for the rich person would be of a higher quality. Because, the poor people who are affected by it may now not have any resources to survive resulting and crime or death, unless a new replacement job can be quickly found.
Persons with more money seem to be faced with higher quality problems. However, the only truth to this is the complexity. If looked at compared to pure difficulty, a poor man’s problems would be significantly greater. Complex, not very. The poor person is simply faced with life or death, get work and survive or struggle to find resource and die. This is what it means to have greater quality problems. However much greater the “quality” of the problem is that is how much greater the “difficulty” is to survive as a functioning human being.