When a person working two jobs says that they’re barely making enough to make ends meet, something is obviously wrong with the system. It doesn’t take a “good heart” to see that — just an intrinsic sense of justice not skewed by hatred of the poor. For instance, 22-year-old Amber Matthews, who was recently interviewed by ThinkProgress.
TP sat down with her the day before the election to discuss her story: she’s raising her 5-year-old daughter and, despite working two minimum-wage jobs in the fast food industry, can barely make ends meet.
The North Carolina woman, along with hundreds of other Greensboro residents, was out in the courtyard of the city’s government complex encouraging friends and neighbors to vote the eve of the election, and that’s where TP caught up with her.
She told the crowd that, “My voice is just a whisper, but when we come together, we can be heard,” echoing a parallel truism regarding democracy: if your vote didn’t matter, why are they trying so hard to take it away?
After the rally, she spoke with ThinkProgress. Matthews works at a Wendy’s and at a nearby Arby’s. Her income is a staggering $600 a month between the two jobs, which is barely enough to afford her $550 rent, and her utility, food, and the cost of raising her five-year-old daughter:
Between my bills and her, she’s constantly growing, so I constantly have to buy her clothes, shoes. You know she’s a typical kid, she loses things on a regular basis. Like last year, we bought her like a hundred hats.
I work two jobs, I shouldn’t have to be struggling. But I still struggle.
For some reason, she makes too much money to qualify for more than a few dollars a month, despite not making enough to put away any savings. She can’t afford healthcare, and doesn’t quality for Medicaid — she makes too much money.
It was a ticking time bomb that went off when her daughter contracted scabies in Pre-k. She brought her daughter to the doctor for treatment, but in the process, wound up with the disease herself:
When I went to the doctors, my medicine was $200. I’m still in debt from that. I can’t get healthcare that I need because I’m a working mother working two jobs.
Like most people with any sense living on the edge of destitution, she has no tolerance for the Republicans and the sadistic games they play regarding the lives of millions of people. Healthcare in particular is a huge issue in the midterm election, with the Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R) having lead the charge to block the Medicaid expansion of the ACA.
She told TP that her patience with politicians like Tillis is slim at best:
These people don’t understand the struggle, but then they sit here and say they care about the people. How do you care about the people if you’re hurting the people?
I don’t understand why you would say ‘I don’t want to raise the minimum wage for this person’ when you know it’s a struggle…Have you ever had to choose between your lights and food? Have you ever had to make the choice between having heat in your house and feeding your child?
Matthews says that she and a handful of other people drove to the state capital in Raleigh to try and explain the difficulties to then-Speaker Tillis in person. Tillis, always open to hearing what constituents in his state had to say, didn’t bother showing up.