What if Everything You Knew About Poverty was Wrong?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-2013
What if Everything You Knew About Poverty was Wrong?
8
Sun, 03-30-2014 - 10:39am

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article in Mother Jones by the same name.  It's a fascinating read, imo, and while it ties somewhat with the analysis of the Cosby Pound Cake speech, it's tangential enough to warrant its own thread, imo.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/kathryn-edin-poverty-research-fatherhood 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998

But if that same couple were rich (living off a trust fund, say) and lazy, would that mean they had good morals? I ask because I think a lot of times, we give people a pass if they're well off and independent, but judge them if they just happen to be poor.

For example, if a celebrity has a child out of wedlock (and pays nannies and other household employees to take care of her and her child), people aren't as likely to judge her as they would a single poor woman who has a child out of wedlock, and yet, both may be guilty (or not) of just wanting to be taken care of.

I think we sometimes blame others for their circumstances when we should really saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2009

blackandwhitemolly wrote:
<p>No, it is not always bad moral character but it sometimes can be. I personally know a young couple who is extremely lazy and will probably always rely on someone to take care of them and their young child. Some people just want everyone else to help them and not get on their two feet and get out and take care of themselves. There is one excuse after another.</p>

Bad moral character is not limited to low income folk. What about the children of proviledge who live off the their parents? What about the white collar criminals, e.g. tax cheats, bankers and investment brokers manipulating the markets, fraudulent companies like Enron.

Welfare (TANF) costs $20 billion a year. The federal budget is $4 trillion a year. Welfare accounts for a quarter of 1% of the total federal budget. Welfare itself is not a major budget problem in the US and most welfare is not obtained fraudulently, estimated at about 2% of the budget. A study on tax evasion in the US estimates that  ther is a tax gap in the range of $450 to $500 billion on unreported income of $2 trillion. Thus, 18 to 19 percent of total reportable income is not properly reported to the IRS.

Some people have no qualms are working under the table without reporting income, while ranting about the almost non-existent welfare queens.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-1998

ashmama wrote:
<p>A lot of people don't have the humility to recognize that all their income, insurance, education, and sheer good luck aren't the result of their own goodness and worth, or that someone else's poverty isn't the result of bad moral character.</p>

I think this is a very good point.

PumpkinAngel

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2013

No, it is not always bad moral character but it sometimes can be. I personally know a young couple who is extremely lazy and will probably always rely on someone to take care of them and their young child. Some people just want everyone else to help them and not get on their two feet and get out and take care of themselves. There is one excuse after another.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
"A lot of people don't have the humility to recognize that all their income, insurance, education, and sheer good luck aren't the result of their own goodness and worth," --------- I think that is a very good point. As a result of the crisis, I am encountering many people who are left in dire circumstances due to no fault of their own. I also remember recognizing as a young person struggling along in the US, what an incredible advantage it was to be white, English-speaking and literate. I lived in poor areas, my neighbors and co-workers being mostly poor, and I had opportunities they didn't have, simply due to the above, for which I could take no credit.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998

A lot of people don't have the humility to recognize that all their income, insurance, education, and sheer good luck aren't the result of their own goodness and worth, or that someone else's poverty isn't the result of bad moral character.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
It is very easy to slide into poverty, and once you are there, it can be incredibly difficult to claw your way out again.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2011

I just added a few of Kathryn Edin's books to my to-read list. 

It's a lot easier to dismiss people who are suffering when you cling to an idea that they're not really like you, and less than you somehow.