Liliaeth (liliaeth) wrote,

Response to the priviliged meme

I was going through that priviliged meme, which I'm not going to post, cause well...

thing is, I could say yes to most of those. But... and this is a big but, college education in Belgium is 'a lot' cheaper than it is in the US. My brother went to university and he doesn't have any debts either, without my parents ever having to save up. Not because they're rich, but because the government arranges for scholarships and parents only have to add up a small amount to the overall costs.

Going to museums, school trips and so on, was never a problem, because it just wasn't all that expensive and schools had a fund for those kids who couldn't afford even that. And I went to a public school for the first eight years. (not counting kindergarden, which I also went to at a public school)

My parents never had to worry about the bills for doctors or dentists, because once again, they got paid back a huge part of the costs.

So does that make me privileged? I don't know. My dad was in business, he also goes bankrupt every few years. And then he starts something up again.

My mom doesn't have her own home, she lives with her boyfriend who does, which saves on rent for her. She's not rich, and quite honestly neither is my father. (he just sucks at saving money)

But compared to many Americans, both of them might be considered somewhat well off.

I mean, I rent the apartment I live in, at a lower cost, once again thanks to the government interfering and funding social housing programs. When I started running into debts after first trying to live on my own and adjusting to that, I got to go to the OCMW and they let me into a free debt help program.

Which means that they took over my finances and pay my bills for me (with my own money) while talking to my debtors and working as an in between to get things settled and help me get back on the right track. Once again, government involvement. (because of which I'm now almost entirely debt free, with the exception of a 1000€ or so that I owe my aunt for curtains she bought for me, when I first moved into my current apartment.)

They also made me take a course on budget management, so that once it's over, I can start looking into taking control of my own finances again.

I guess the main issue here is that Belgian government interferes a lot more than the American version and as a result, it's easier to get back on track. If you're willing or able to work for it.

And they do all that, without shaming us for asking for help.

I will admit though that I am privileged. I'm white, I'm under forty, I'm heterosexual. I may have had a Jewish grandfather who was a polish immigrant, but since he became catholic when he married my grandmother that's never really been an issue. (aside of my father using him as an excuse when he doesn't feel like talking to a client on a Saturday)

I never had to be hungry as a kid and we lived in our own home. My parents didn't separate until I was in my last years of high school, and aside of the fight between them, it didn't really change things all that much. We had loads of books in our house, though I never counted them. And I had a library card with which I could rent seven books a week or more if I wanted to. I also had a library within bike driving distance.

I never had to worry about school trips, or school supplies, and kids these days have it even easier on that score, since the government arranged for funds for school supplies for all kids.

When my brother realized he was gay, he worried for a bit, but both my parents accepted him. (even though my father had his issues, he just never rejected my brother over it) But my brother has a job for a national broadcast radio as a producer and it's never been a big issue for him. Hell he could even marry a man, if he ever felt like doing so. No questions asked.

So I don't know... I just feel that many of the phrases on that list are aimed at the American way of life, and costs, which doesn't really fit in all other countries. But I guess that's just me.


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