Poverty: it is an attitude

Follow-up to: The problem with reducing inequality

"The poor" aren't suffering unless they choose to. Here's evidence:
Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter. He had a gym bag, $25, and little else. A former college athlete with a bachelor's degree, Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with supportive parents in Raleigh, N.C. Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charles­ton, S.C.

But Shepard's descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents' home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest even more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.

During his first 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps. He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.
As Shepard remarks in the interview, it's not your background - it's your attitude:
To meet that guy [in the wheelchair] at the shelter, [makes you wonder] 'Can he get out and go to college and become a doctor?' Maybe, maybe not. I think he can set goals..... You can use your talents. That's why, from the beginning, I set very realistic goals: $2,500, a job, car. This isn't a "rags-to-riches million-dollar" story. This is very realistic. I truly believe, based on what I saw at the shelter ...that anyone can do that.
(Tip of the hat to Libertarec.)


Anonymous said…
Anecdotal evidence at its best.
A well-educated healthy guy manages to do pretty well, big surprise. Now what if, say, you're an alcoholic and you never even finished high-school?

But of course, using such examples would punch holes in the wonderfully simplified statement that "it's their own damn fault", so let's ignore it entirely.

I'm sorry, but this isn't "evidence" of anything other than selective reading skills and that *at least one person* (who was artificially placed in the situation in the first place) can get out of poverty.

And your previous post about "reducing inequality" is at least as deeply flawed, as it 1) makes more false assumptions and generalizations than I care to mention, and 2) convenient forgets the available evidence: That there *are* relatively more people "suffering" in the US than in many other countries which do more to reduce (not eliminate, which was another nice touch in your post - always a good trick to switch the definitions around when people aren't looking, makes your argument sound much more convincing) but *reduce*.

But of course, when people have made up their minds, what use are facts? They just get in the way.
denis bider said…
If you're an alcoholic, why not stop abusing alcohol?

Why should other people have to pay for your alcohol abuse?

Mr. Shepard claims never to have used his education credentials, so whether or not you finished high school shouldn't really make a big difference. For what it's worth, I never finished university.

My point is that there are fairly few people who really need help. People who really need help, should be helped.

However, in practice, the naive sympathy of idiots like you makes governments "help" lots more people than is necessary, and in most of these cases it serves to breed parasitism.

In fact, in most of those countries which you refer to as "enlightened", most voters are already parasites, leading to the counterproductive policies that you described.

Mr. Anonymous, I think it's fairly evident to say that you are either one such parasite, or an overly sympathetic jerk who lends himself well to exploitation. Pick one.
Anonymous said…
[i]If you're an alcoholic, why not stop abusing alcohol?[/i]

Because alcohol is not the problem. What brought alcohol as an addiction into your life is the problem every alocoholic/addict has to face. And it is way more complicated than just stopping drinking.

[i]Mr. Shepard claims never to have used his education credentials, so whether or not you finished high school shouldn't really make a big difference. For what it's worth, I never finished university.[/i]

But he used what he was taught before to survive this experiment. Like you did. Why is the fact that some people didn't learn the same thing so hard to accept ? He knew he could make it. He chose it. Talk about ego boost. People don't choose to live on the street. It is the final consequence of a lot of other chain of events.

I lived three weeks as a tramp some years ago. My father even saw me on the train station once knowing full well the situation. Who would choose that ? Did he have to deal with mental issues and other problems ? How can you deduce from his (biased) experiment something that should apply to everyone. Are we all clones ? Do we have to measure our successes by the best of the best ?
denis bider said…
He chose it. Talk about ego boost. People don't choose to live on the street. It is the final consequence of a lot of other chain of events.

The point of my article is that poverty is a matter of attitude.

The above quote from your response just goes to show that you agree that it's a matter of attitude.

Our disagreement seems to be in that I think that poverty is a matter of attitude, so it's the poor person's responsibility to change that attitude.

On the other hand, you think that poverty is a matter of attitude, which attitude is a result of past events, and is difficult to change without outside help.

I think I'm being fair when I say that: if a poor person can be loaned help that they can pay off in the long run, or if people or organizations are willing to voluntariliy provide them with free help, then there's no reason why the poor people should not receive such help.

But I do not accept a situation where I am being forced, at threat of prison, to part with a portion of my income, so that poor people who are unwilling to change their attitudes can be "helped" - "helped" usually in such a way that will merely help to prolong and reinforce their dysfunctional attitudes.

In my opinion, poor people should be helped by those who are willing to give them or loan them their assistance voluntarily.

People who have hit rock bottom and cannot convince anyone that they are worthy of assistance should be euthanized.

If a person cannot convince any individual person or organization that they are worthy of assistance, then there's no reason why they should receive help from the state.

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