Poverty's Cost and Cause
DeNeen L. Brown is an exquisite writer who has always brought a stunningly perceptive eye to people, their problems and their triumphs. This morning she has written about the high cost of poverty, a subject that always draws a large number of angry comments (and in the old days, angry letters to the editor) blaming the poor for their condition and asking why the bleeding-heart newspaper is writing this story.
We have those remarks today, but many of our Readers Who Comment understand that poverty can happen to anybody, is debilitating, and, yes, leads people to make poor decisions for bad reasons. The comment string is full of both condemnation and sympathy. Every suggestion that the Poor Are Evil finds a rejoinder.
This is indeed a complex problem that has always been with us. One reader suggests that if poverty were a flu epidemic, we would figure it out. Were it so.
We'll start with this exchange:
RogerSteciak wrote, "People can get themselves out of poverty if they really want to get out of poverty, but they really have to want to do so or else they won't. It's attitude rather than aptitude that determines one's altitude... Use the free computers at your local public library to provide yourself with a free education. If you don't have a library card, then get a library card."
To which ano1again replied, "i figured at least one idiot would make a comment like this one. excellent article"
psouleles wrote, "If poverty were contagious it would largely disappear as everyone would do their best to ensure their neighbour did not fall into it. Perhaps as the recession deepens it will become contagious and that is where the opportunity may arise for individuals to help other individuals without the government always wanting to play the role of big brother. There has to be a new consciousness about how everyone is connected bot just for flu epidemics but also financial calamities."
nancyjeanmail said, "beautifully written and sensitively conveyed.
another cost are the poorer schools, often with fewer sports and other extras, the newest teachers and oldest books. fewer computers at the schools in these neighborhoods, with no IT support to maintain and upgrade them, things middle class people take for granted.
write more about this, please."
48004939 wrote, "Been there, done that...I take little credit for my successes, which were mostly a matter of being in the right place at the right time and the luck I had in being able to get an education. The abyss is just one or two steps to one side. I am to this day appalled by the total lack of awareness of what poverty really is by most middle class people."
ImpeachObama said, "If you are a credit risk, OF COURSE buying things on credit will cost more. The same goes for neighborhoods. If you live in a place where the local grocery store has a shoplifting problem, prices are going to be higher."
DupontJay wrote, "The poor who buy "9-dollar hot chicken wings" at Giant get poorer. But somehow, the poor who come across the southern border with nothing but the shirt on their back end up making enough money to send back to their families. Being poor in America is not insurmountable. But being poor and stupid is."
To which Voter4Integrity replied, "That's because many of them get paid under-the-table yet claim to have no income and receive scads of free services that were intended for poor Americans, while the poor people profiled in this article pay their own share of taxes and those of the immigrants. I think that rather than being stupid, many of the people in these situations have just lost hope that things can be better and so they no longer try..."
swmuva wrote, "Over the past year, I went from being comfortably middle-class to living below the poverty line because of a job layoff. It has been an eye-opening experience. People who think that the poor are either lazy or stupid have no clue. I got news for you: there are lazy and stupid people living in McLean and Bethesda just as surely as there are lazy and stupid people living in Anacostia."
dcpsinsider said, "I think this article is meant to pull at heartstrings but I think it will have the opposite effect. Some of the people interviewed admit the foolish behaviors that help keep people poor...Some poor people don't open FREE or LOW COST checking accounts at banks because they don't want a paper trail. They don't want themselves or a family member to be found (I.e., by the law)."
genbarlow wrote, "Poverty 101:
1. Stay in school
3. Stop breeding when you can't afford to raise kids"
aust1nz said, "...I think the sometimes illogical choices that poor people make are what make the issue so difficult. It's easy to criticize a man in poverty who purchases $9 of chicken wings, but could you really argue that purchasing $5 of chicken breasts -- even over months or years -- would make the man's life so much different?"
malonechris6 wrote, "Couldn't ask for a better description of life for the poor in the US. I was there. I got out. Now I'm back again. My credit card bank charges me 27% annual interest. And that's a bank! But that looks good compared to what the non-bank lenders charge."
bastanow said, "Capitalism tends to sink the masses in poverty and degradation while exalting a very few to unfathomable wealth... With an unprecedented gap between the rich and poor right now, and no signs of reversing the unbounded greed of the plutocracy, there really is no hope left for this nation... Clearly, capitalism has proven to be an utter failure."
george32 asked, "and who disporportionately buys more lottery tickets sponsored by governments."
ianhoffman1 suggested, "...get a bike. It will be nearly as fast as a car and healthier for you and cheaper."
But TRS5501 advised, "You have to have access to cashflow to get a bike. You have to have access to cashflow to move. You have to have access to capital to get ahead. The point is that not only are the poor limited in their access they are paying more for what they get than those who can afford to pay more..."
subscriptionsinbox wrote, "The ache and fear of poverty never leaves, no matter how much money you eventually have. You remember the helplessness and hopelessness. And just beneath the surface you are always afraid."
Dive4Blood wrote, "...We're all sympathetic to those who struggle but the cold, hard facts are that long term poverty can only be solved by the individuals it affects. How do you lend a hand to people who refuse to put pen to paper and calculate? How do you help someone who pays $4 to pay a bill because he hasn't got the time to spend a $42 stamp?... "
We'll close with JayHurstAtty who wrote, "...Those here blaming the poor for being born poor need to literally walk a mile in their shoes. Take a week's vacation and go live like those who have nothing must live... Berating the poor for being poor is arrogant and ignorant, but no one who's never been poor will be able to empathize with that."
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