‘The difference,’ he went on, ‘between the man with money and the man without is simply this: the one thinks, “How shall I use my life?” and the other, “How shall I keep myself alive?” A physiologist ought to be able to discover some curious distinction between the brain of a person who has never given a thought to the means of subsistence, and that of one who has never known a day free from such cares. There must be some special cerebral development representing the mental anguish kept up by poverty.’
‘I should say,’ put in Amy, ‘that it affects every function of the brain. It isn’t a special point of suffering, but a misery that colours every thought.’
‘True. Can I think of a single subject in all the sphere of my experience without the consciousness that I see it through the medium of poverty? I have no enjoyment which isn’t tainted by that thought, and I can suffer no pain which it doesn’t increase. The curse of poverty is to the modern world just what that of slavery was to the ancient. Rich and destitute stand to each other as free man and bond. You remember the line of Homer I have often quoted about the demoralising effect of enslavement; poverty degrades in the same way.’
— George Gissing, New Grub Street
I grew up in San Diego, California, although I was born in North Carolina and my folks were from Arizona. Right after the war we lived in what is now a very posh area of San Diego—Point Loma—but when my Dad got into San Diego State College on the G. I. Bill, we moved to married student’s housing down by the jetty in Old Town. Most of the living arrangements in that area of town were temporary plywood multi-units built for the influx of workers for the war industries: building airplanes and ships. In Southern California where the weather is friendly, temporary buildings tend to last a long time. When I came home from New Jersey to surprise my buddy who was getting married, they held his bachelor party in a newly built townhouse on the side of a long hill where, until that visit, I would see only those old two-story plywood firetraps still being used to house the less fortunate of San Diego.