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DanielBMarkham 1305 days ago | link | parent

I'm not trying to argue, but I believe you don't understand.

My point was that you seem very happy with explaining the systemic reasons for problems, even being very proud of your progressive social attitudes and willingness to pay taxes, but none of that money, explanation, or enlightenment does the actual poor one bit of lasting good. They deal with despair as a primary obstacle. Explaining sociology to them and the systemic nature of poverty does not help them despair less. In fact, and this is critical, for many it may have the effect of making their lives substantially worse. There's a very fine line between explaining a complex problem that you don't currently have the solution to and telling people their life is pointless. In fact they can look and sound like the same thing to an outside observer.

I have no qualm with you -- the things you have said are most likely true -- but there is a difference in talking about a thing from an external clinical standpoint and living the thing, as you know so well.

As a sidebar, why would you even mention that you weren't angry with your parents? It seemed such an odd thing to say. Why would anyone think of being angry with their parents for something like wealth?

I'm done here. Sorry to take the thread so far down. Just sounded like we were talking past each other. Thanks again for the conversation.



muhfuhkuh 1305 days ago | link

"none of that money, explanation, or enlightenment does the actual poor one bit of lasting good."

Tell that to Joe the Plumber, who went from growing up on welfare to being the everyman who just wants to run his own plumbing business if it weren't for a then-Presidential candidate taking his money. Ditto Sarah Palin and Craig T. Nelson (who once famously said on the Glenn Beck show, "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No!")

I figured you were a "supply-side" kinda guy, so we'll truly never see things eye-to-eye. Fair enough.

Just know that poor people actually _do_ want to know why they're poor, as that kind of sets expectations, pacing, and gives them some wiggle room to strategize solutions to their problem. State support helps them with essentials, education helps ameliorate their thinking, and charitable causes and people give them the helping hand to see through the hardship.

"There's a very fine line between explaining a complex problem that you don't currently have the solution to and telling people their life is pointless."

That's why you give them cold facts and then real solutions based on what you and others have experienced. If you don't want to talk publicly about success, you're essentially telling them, "I'm a millionaire and so can you!" and then leaving. In other words, show don't tell.

"Why would anyone think of being angry with their parents for something like wealth?"

I would be positively _ecstatic_ if I were born into a wealthy family. It would bring no end of awesome, warm feelings. I will never know what that feeling is like, unfortunately, as they were the poorest of immigrants. I was just implying that I didn't begrudge them being poor, as I still had a decent childhood, even in the ghetto.

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bena 1305 days ago | link

"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No!"

Don't tell me he actually said that. That's just so deliberately idiotic.

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DanielBMarkham 1305 days ago | link

Please don't put me in a box. You don't know me.

Yeah I think there is a deep infection here, but it has nothing to do with poverty. It begins with the idea that if you take social assistance then social assistance must be a good thing. Or that somehow you must support it. As you are demonstrating by your words, this isn't any good at all. For Joe, Sarah, you, or anybody else. This same logic holds that if you don't send your kids into the military, you can't support a war. One supposes that everybody must volunteer at the local fire station or go without emergency support, or that those who took a pencil in second grade must somehow support armed robbery as a way of life. Give a man a fish, and he must support government sanctioned fish distribution for his entire life. It's the one-size-fits-all, if-you-were-touched-by-it-you-must-endorse-it thinking. Not good. Not good for anybody. Let's move past such rhetorical nonsense.

Here's the thing: it's one thing to explain something that you understand and know how to fix. It's quite another to simply cite statistics and general correlations. There are a lot of folks who think that positive mental attitude can lift you out of poverty -- I am one of them. And there are folks that think it is mostly luck. (I also think luck has quite a bit to do with it as well) But I can guarantee you that anybody who thinks that life is pointless will never make it. I also observe that after trillions spent on LBJ's War on Poverty (one hopes it did not involve shooting poor people) we are no further along than when we started. So for all the bluster, we do not have the answer. We have a lot of complex ideas and theories, but we have no answer.

We do not know how to lift people out of poverty. We DO know that hopelessness and despair will prevent folks from succeeding. You can either sit around and dress up correlation as "giving them cold facts" or you can help with attitudes. That's just what every poor person with a poor education needs -- some rich college guy with a $50 vocabulary going on and on about how the system is against them and how they'll never make it.

When I was poor, I knew people like this. Oddly enough, many of them were college educated. It was always pointless, the system was always corrupt, the rich guys always got richer and the poor guys always got the shaft. It's mental disease masquerading as wisdom. Guys who felt that way are either still there, dead, or in prison. You can be in a hopeless situation and still have joy and hope. Unless you listen to some people.

Like I said, you sound more part of the problem than the solution.

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