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Poverty - the greatest evil?

Leo2

Registered Member
To those who believe that the poor choose their state by means of laziness, and a desire to be supported by the rest of society - I recommend you read this article. The belief that anybody may become successful (particularly in the USA) is not supported by either logic or fact, and the reality is sobering. So try and remember all this when you are next motivated to support obscene disparity of wealth in your society.

Living in poverty is massively inconvenient. It’s hard to get around places when you’re poor. It’s hard to take advantage of special discounts at distant outlet stores while relying on public transportation, especially buses. Buses, whatever else you may have heard about them, are no picnic. They arrive at irregular intervals, break down a lot, and often have crummy suspension systems. They are usually overcrowded, forcing patrons to stand for long, long distances. Buses aren’t much help in the winter when it’s freezing or in the summer when the air conditioning goes on the fritz. But they’re also not much help when you’re shopping. You can’t load a bus with a six-month supply of toilet paper or hamburger rolls from Sam’s Club. Chances are, the bus is already loaded with people and you’ll have to wait for the next one. Poverty simply cannot be done on the cheap.

Most budget-conscious people in the United States can take advantage of coupons they download from the Internet, but a lot of poor people don’t have computers or printers or scanners or anything along these lines. Poor people are usually not on the cutting edge of technology. They are not early adapters. They do not rush out and buy iPads or 3D TVs the first day they are available. It takes them awhile to get around to making these sorts of purchases.

Poor people rarely buy products in bulk. Mostly, they shop at the local level, purchasing food and other necessities in smaller retail establishments that do not offer the best prices. Because they are short on cash, poor people tend to buy cheap appliances that break and are replaced by other cheap products that break. Repair shops are hard to find in the inner city. When I was a kid, my father was always buying televisions and even radios “on time,” paying a small deposit upfront and then a small installment each week. The appliances were always massively overpriced, but this was the only way we could afford to have them. In the end, we always paid twice what the appliance was worth, or sat by in stunned silence as burly men came into our house and repossessed it. It took me a long time to figure out the difference between gangsters and the merchants who sold us our overpriced TVs. Actually, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Poor people have a tough time networking. They are rarely in the right place at the right time. A lot of this has to do with being dependent on buses. You never meet the well-connected on buses. You just don’t. There are tens of thousands of poor kids in the run-down neighborhoods that ring Yankee Stadium, but the batboy is usually a well-off kid from the northern suburbs who then bequeaths the job to his brother. That’s largely because the person who hands out these plum assignments doesn’t ride public transportation. The poor are never in the vehicle when the useful deals are made. When you’re poor, you never find yourself sitting next to someone who can land your daughter an internship at a white-shoe law firm. Besides, internships are predicated on the voluntary entrance of the offspring of the affluent into indentured slavery. In a society like ours, only the wealthy or near-wealthy can afford to work as slaves.

The philosophical infrastructure of poverty is rooted in an interlocking series of self-fulfilling prophecies. Poor people eat bad food, drink bad beverages, and ceaselessly make bad decisions, and these counterproductive activities are then used as an indictment of their moral character. Thus, the poor become the architects of their own destruction. Poverty is a dunce school where the old teach the young how to make bad decisions. Adults who have bad eating habits, adults who smoke, adults who have substance abuse problems teach young people how to acquire these bad habits. They lead by example. The acquired bad habits are then used as an indictment of the poor children when they themselves come of age.

The only way poverty can be justified – except as the character-building recreational activity posited by my TV producer friend – is if the poor somehow behave in a fashion that justifies their being poor. If the poor behave badly, it proves that the poor deserve to be treated badly. You have made your bed. Now lie in it. And let your children lie in it as well. This sort of thing happens all the time in American cities. I believe the technical term is 'a vicious circle'.
http://www.rotary.org/en/mediaandnew...eenan1109.aspx

And the worst aspect of poverty is the fact that it is the most innocent - the children - who suffer in childhood, and go on to suffer in adulthood, inadvertently inflicting the same suffering upon their children - ad infinitum, ad aeternam.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
I don't know a whole lot of people who make the claim all poor people are poor because of laziness. I think many argue, quite factually, that many stay poor because they don't do what it takes to get out of their situation.

This was an interesting read, I certainly can see where the author is coming from. It's interesting this was posted today. My mom and I were talking about her family since my uncle passed away last night. We talked about my grandfather being a Mexican immigrant who came to the US with $15 in his pocket and ended up raising a family here. We talked about my own upbringing and going without so many things and how tough things were some times. We talked about the sacrifices made to go to law school both me and my brother made. We talked about my uncle, her brother, being the son of an immigrant who served his country, got married, and raised 8 good successful children who are all productive members of society. We talked about how the life I have now and my education would not have been possible in Mexico. We talked about how my grandfather would say I wasn't born here, but everything I have I owe to this place.

Yes times can be hard, I know just as much as anyone. Yes it can be a struggle, but the idea that anyone can rise out of poverty is very real. It's what is great about America. It's not a myth based on something illogical, it's a reality.
 

Leo2

Registered Member
Yes times can be hard, I know just as much as anyone. Yes it can be a struggle, but the idea that anyone can rise out of poverty is very real. It's what is great about America. It's not a myth based on something illogical, it's a reality.
With respect, that is not peculiar to America - it is possible in every developed society. But no one is claiming it is impossible to escape from poverty - simply that there are many factors involved, not all of which are under the control of the persons involved, and it is much harder than we, who are comfortably off, may realise.
 

Random9

Registered Member
To those who believe that the poor choose their state by means of laziness, and a desire to be supported by the rest of society - I recommend you read this article. The belief that anybody may become successful (particularly in the USA) is not supported by either logic or fact, and the reality is sobering. So try and remember all this when you are next motivated to support obscene disparity of wealth in your society.

http://www.rotary.org/en/mediaandnew...eenan1109.aspx

And the worst aspect of poverty is the fact that it is the most innocent - the children - who suffer in childhood, and go on to suffer in adulthood, inadvertently inflicting the same suffering upon their children - ad infinitum, ad aeternam.
i don't get it,his parents taught him bad habits,ok but what exactly does he want others to do about it?send him to an orphanage? and what is this ridiculous notion that to get a decent job you have to have friends in high places? i know plenty of people who got decent jobs without pulling any strings.

i also don't understand the problem with poverty, and have no idea what alternative to it one can propose,because wealth redistribution to achieve "fairness" won't help the poor-as CO mentioned he had no chance to get where he got in mexico,so if we would redistribute wealth to help the least fortunate almost all of the money will go to people in other countries while the poor in the country redistributing wealth will be even poorer because most of the money which now goes to them will go somewhere else.
 
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CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
With respect, that is not peculiar to America - it is possible in every developed society. But no one is claiming it is impossible to escape from poverty - simply that there are many factors involved, not all of which are under the control of the persons involved, and it is much harder than we, who are comfortably off, may realise.
I didn't say it was peculiar to America, but 1) the article seems to be addressing the poverty problems in America and 2) you said the "belief that anyone may be successful (particularly in the US) is not supported by either logic or fact" which I disagree with. It's not a certainty, nothing in life is except death, but it certainly is a real possibility, one I'm intimately familiar with.
 

dnno1

Registered Member
Poverty doesn't always happen because of bad decisions (although sometimes they do). It also happens because of the operation of the economic and political systems in this country along with physical state and behavior. In the United States, we live in a free enterprise economy, which by nature creates a significant amount of poverty. This is due to the fact that there must be a competition for jobs in this type of economic system and there will be a certain level of unemployment (private industry just can't employ everyone). We spend too much on defending this country and not enough on helping the poor. This is leading to getting wealthy people wealthier who in-turn spend large amounts of money to lobby Congress to establish priorities in their favor (like tax breaks and subsidies). Finally, there are a good number of people who are poor because they are not able to work due to a disability. Certainly, old people are not necessarily capable of working and are on a fixed income while the cost of living increases. If they haven't saved up a nest egg or are still supporting family, they are at an economic hardship. You also have younger folks who took ill or were injured for some reason and lost their job. There is also the fact that there are some people who did make the wrong decision in life, committed a crime, and are unemployable as a result (but not all poor people share the same misfortune). With all that being said, I think that poverty is a multi-factoral issue and there is no one simple solution to resolve it.
 
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Leo2

Registered Member
Poverty doesn't always happen because of bad decisions (although sometimes they do). It also happens because of the operation of the economic and political systems in this country along with physical state and behavior. In the United States, we live in a free enterprise economy, which by nature creates a significant amount of poverty. This is due to the fact that there must be a competition for jobs in this type of economic system and there will be a certain level of unemployment (private industry just can't employ everyone). We spend too much on defending this country and not enough on helping the poor. This is leading to getting wealthy people wealthier who in-turn spend large amounts of money to lobby Congress to establish priorities in their favor (like tax breaks and subsidies). Finally, there are a good number of people who are poor because they are not able to work due to a disability. Certainly, old people are not necessarily capable of working and are on a fixed income while the cost of living increases. If they haven't saved up a nest egg or are still supporting family, they are at an economic hardship. You also have younger folks who took ill or were injured for some reason and lost their job. There is also the fact that there are some people who did make the wrong decision in life, committed a crime, and are unemployable as a result (but not all poor people share the same misfortune). With all that being said, I think that poverty is a multi-factoral issue and there is no one simple solution to resolve it.
You are totally correct, and I suspect the article concerned is disseminating that message. The reason I posted it was as a counter to the many opinions I have heard from Americans, that there is no need for poverty in the USA. The general opinion being that people are poor because they are lazy and unmotivated. And that anyone in the US can be financially successful if he wants to be. I am trying to demonstrate that it is more complex than that. Thank you for confirming that. :)
 

dnno1

Registered Member
You are totally correct, and I suspect the article concerned is disseminating that message. The reason I posted it was as a counter to the many opinions I have heard from Americans, that there is no need for poverty in the USA. The general opinion being that people are poor because they are lazy and unmotivated. And that anyone in the US can be financially successful if he wants to be. I am trying to demonstrate that it is more complex than that. Thank you for confirming that. :)
We could take it a step further and say that because we chose our political and economic system the way we have, our society (and our government) is responsible for the care of the poor. It would also be kind of a heartless, ignorant, and negligent response to say that poor people deserve what they got since we know know that there would be a certain significant number of people who would be poor regardless of what decisions they made in life.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
There always has been poor, there always will be poor. It's impossible for there not to be. In the US our welfare system contributes in large part to the growing number of poor by encouraging this entitlement cycle. Now, I agree it isn't as simple as "anyone can rise out of poverty" it's much more complicated than that, there are many factors involved. But it's also not a myth, or something not based on fact or logic.
 
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