Country Living Series

Sunday, September 28, 2014

People who deserve to be poor

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled People Who Deserve to be Poor.


  1. It really is as simple as that. Throw out the few who are very low IQ, mentally ill or seriously handicapped and the majority of the poor people choose to be poor. The simple causes of poverty in this country are:
    1. feeding habits such as smoking, drinking or drugs
    2. passing up the opportunity 12 years of free education put in front of us and either failing to graduate or failing to learn.
    3. having children without marriage or too young.
    4. Choosing to depend on welfare as a lifestyle instead of working.

    All of these things are choices and while I would agree that many who make these choices are clueless to the consequences they still make the choice. Poverty is not forced on anyone in this country and success is there for anyone who chooses wisely.

  2. I have to wonder...where do satisfaction and contentment come in here? The author seems to talk only of an abundance of money or the absence of shame. Granted, saving face is a predominant motivator in their culture, but I can't imagine being content with simply either or both.

  3. I get really fed-up with all the poor-shaming that goes down in America.

    Yes, I do take issue with choosing welfare as a lifestyle...

    ...but not all of "the poor" are bloodsuckers or criminals. Most of the poor people I have known in my life are simple, honest people who stayed poor (despite being hard-working and careful with their money) for one or more of a host of reasons:

    1) Disability. Things like muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and cancer don't make moral discriminations. They just happen-- and sometimes, they happen to honest, hard-working, frugal people in the prime of life with kids to bring up.

    2) Bad luck. Spouses cheat (or beat) and show no remorse. Mothers and fathers die and leave kids to be raised by grandparents. People have heart attacks and, after rehab, find themselves unemployable. They don't necessarily make a lifestyle out of welfare, but they do end up permanently poor.

    3) Lack of ability to hold a lucrative career. My stepmother was "slow," or "stupid," or "learning disabled," or whatever-- a stroke in infancy left her with about half a brain. The best she could manage was washing linens in a hospital laundry (back when hospitals still had such things) and being a cook. Technically she managed the restaurant; she could not have done this without the help of a few trusted friends. She never did ask for charity-- she paid all her bills, even when it meant going without meals-- but she was shirt-tail poor until she married my father.

    4) The practice of charity. I once knew a Christian man with a wife and four kids to feed. He worked long, long, long hours as an appliance repairman. Why didn't he have anything to show for it?? It was hard times in a depressed area-- and when a customer couldn't pay, he made the repair anyway (even if it meant that dinner came from the dumpster behind the A&P). It might not have done much for his bottom line, but I'm sure his soul was nice and shiny.

    5) Lifestyle choices. The aforementioned family were very conservative Christians. Women did not work outside the home, and birth control didn't happen. His wife did eventually get sick of the situation: she got her tubes tied on the down-low and went to nursing school. They got out of poverty. They also lost their church family over it.

    I knew another family who chose a lifestyle of complete self-reliance. They worked as hard as anyone (certainly harder than my father with his good job in the mines)...

    ...and they never had two pennies to rub together. They lived in a one-room cabin (two adults and three teenage kids). Carried water from a spring for everything. Did not own a motor vehicle. Each one of them had maybe three changes of clothes to their name (and four of the five were always clean). I went through high school with their younger daughter; the older one married one of my distant cousins. Both girls, despite the fact that they knew they would never attend college, were straight-A students. The boy, for all he was severely learning-disabled, refused to bathe, and was frankly about as smart as a box of hair, still was kind, polite, and hard-working (for example, when the weather was bad, he would ask our bus driver to drop him off at the foot of the hill and walk two and a half miles home rather than endanger the bus, the driver, and the rest of the passengers in order to be dropped off a quarter of a mile from his front door; the bus driver complied because he knew the family well, worked with the boy in the hayfield all summer, and knew that for all the kid might have been lost in a classroom and totally clueless about the mysteries of soap, he could handle himself in the snow).

    There are all kinds of reasons for being poor. While choosing a criminal lifestyle, or choosing to be a bloodsucker, deserves shaming, poverty itself should not be a cause for judgment or shame.

    1. 1) Agreed. Some people have significant and life long medical issues.

      2) Bad luck explains why a person has a bad month, or even a bad year. However if they have a whole lifetime of 'bad luck' then I would submit the only constant has been them and that's where the issue might lie.

      3) Some folks are not able to function in modern society though that could lump in with #1. The truth is that some folks are meant to be ditch diggers while others are going to be rocket scientists or brain surgeons and most of us are in the middle. Even then if they will work hard all but the most extremely low IQ folks can earn a living.

      4) That is an intentional choice. I am fine with folks making it so long as they do not complain.

      5) Wifey stays at home with the kids and we are not poor.

      As to folks who make lifestyle choices to be intentionally very low income I think that is great, so long as they don't bitch about it. I know a smart young (30ish) couple who choose to work very little and live on about 15k a year (albeit crashing with family). They enjoy lots of time to travel and do various hobbies or projects.

      I think this is great but have zero sympathy if they were to complain about why their cars are very old or they cannot afford to live on their own or that they have not saved a dime for retirement. They own the results of their choices. I generally feel the same for (minus the mental/ disability crowd) other poor people.

    2. Many people find it hard to rise above their circumstances. They prove that if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always have gotten. And they do. The pattern of behavior is so ingrained in the family, that they cannot think of any other path. That was the case in the school district I taught in. With a very high percentage of students on the dole, very few rose above their original circumstances. A few did, but not many. That was the problem with the teen that I worked hard to teach art...her choice and desire. When I ended the lessons all she could tell me is that she was looking forward to taking art in learn something new. I taught her college level drawing! Sad commentary.

  4. Not replying to this WND column as necessary. It speaks for itself.

    I do need to alert you to again defend homeschooling as it seems (based on crawl WND today) that the Sandy Hook commission now wants to blame homeschooling as Adam Lanza's problem. I really don't know where this garbage is dug up but maybe another dose of reality is needed again Patrice.

    Just thought you should know!

  5. Once I got to know a guy at work (a temporary assignment) who grew up about as poor as you can and ended up in an orphanage as a small kid. As he put it "poor people have poor ways." With the rare exceptions (mental retardation and serious disabilities come to mind) I find little if anything to argue in his line of thinking.