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In a letter to the Monitor on Dec. 1, Don Willerton requested more information about who the poor in Los Alamos are. It is easier to answer his question by discussing who the poor are not. “The poor” are not victims of their own personal choices. Poverty, despite the myths we tell ourselves so we can try to sleep better at night, is not a punishment for personal failures and bad life choices. It is neither the result of laziness, nor of the lack of motivation or responsibility. Poverty is the symptom of larger systemic, societal ills – not the least of which are the rising cost of living, and a labor market that continues to produce more part-time and sub-poverty level jobs than decent, living-wage jobs. The current state minimum wage barely pulls a single person above the poverty line. It doesn’t even come close to pulling a family out of poverty. There are such jobs available in Los Alamos County.
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