The Poverty Hole: Why We Won’t “Solve” Poverty

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June 2, 2014 by Liberty

There is a classic concept that is continuously rehashed by the media whenever the subject of welfare comes up. According to this concept, the vast majority of people using the welfare system are victims to circumstance. These victims to circumstance have, in some way or another, drawn the short straw. Now it’s our responsibility, as good people, to give them a helping hand. With our helping hand we can eliminate poverty completely.

This concept holds some water. Of course, if someone has drawn the short straw in life, I definitely support giving them a helping hand. Absolutely anyone can fall into the hole of poverty. I could not let a persons whole life come down to circumstance due to my conscience alone. Perhaps there is an argument for that but that’s definitely not an argument I’d find emotionally easy to implement. I firmly believe in helping when someone gets screwed by coincidence (or even makes a few genuine mistakes.) Quite frankly, few things give me more pleasure than helping people that really need it.

That being said, being a victim to circumstance is not all it’s cracked up to be…

Everyone’s A Victim

I’m going to be saying some harsh statements about a common narrative used by the media. I want to make it clear that there are victims but it is an absolute insult to those victims when clichéd stories of poor decision making are said to be the average person in poverty.

Whenever the media portrays someone that needs welfare, they make it a single mother. The single mother is paraded around as she talks about how the man she was with ran away after she told him she was pregnant or something. Maybe he beat her and she then ran away. She was suddenly left to try and raise her children alone. Thankfully, the great welfare gods blessed upon her an income from government.

Of course, no reasonable person would provide charity with the tiny narrative provided by the media.

First of all, on an obvious point, why is this woman having unprotected (statistically) sex with a man that’s willing to run off on her? Of course, our natural urge is to assume the man was two faced but we have absolutely no information to assume that. Maybe she was abusive? Maybe she poked holes in the condom? Maybe she told him to leave but wants to look sympathetic? Of course, all of this is speculation. The only non-speculation we have is the fact that she had sex with this man.

Second, we can’t look at her need for welfare based only on the existence of her child. Plenty of single parents have unexpected children that they can actually afford to pay for. Why can’t she afford to pay for her own child? Did she not get accepted to college or did she get kicked out for having too good a time? Really, we have no information in this department either. To assume that she happens to be on the victim side again is presumptuous.

It’s absolutely insulting to always assume that a person is a victim. Are these people too stupid or too insane to be held to the standards of a regular human being?

What if I told you I spent all my savings on a home to lower my assets to the point that I could collect food stamps legally? Most people will, of course, say that’s manipulative and taking advantage of the system. They would not approve of that but are all these “victims” too dumb to make rational decisions for themselves?

We can’t look down on the people we’re supposedly offering charity to and pretend we’re good people.

Where Is The Real Hole?

It’s not hard to fall into poverty. I’ve spent nights on a park bench and years in weed-stenched (neighbors…), dingy, and cold apartments. In fact, just about everyone has lived in poverty, or semi-poverty at some point in their life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Most people are completely capable of getting out of it too. With a little bit extra work, and a few good decisions, you can pull yourself up. That being said, the farther someone has buried themselves, the harder it’s going to be but most people don’t just bury themselves in hundreds of bad decisions without subsidies.

When people end up suffering from poverty, the have the opportunity to learn a lesson.

I remember being up all night crying to try and figure all this stuff out. I came to realize something about myself that I’ve started to expand outwards to try and find support for. Poverty isn’t really a hole that people fall into. The poor person can just as easily be the hole…

No… That’s not intended as an insult.

What I mean by a poor person being the hole is this: No matter how much money you give someone, if they’re not financially competent, they will lose it down to the level of their financial competence. People that don’t know how to hold onto money when they have no money will not be able to hold onto money when they get it.

Around 70% of lottery winners go broke after winning the lottery. The majority of lottery tickets are bought by people that are already just above broke. Despite gaining hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars, the majority of them still are incapable of holding onto their money. (Consider the fact that only ½ a percentage of average people go bankrupt. Compare that to 70% of lottery winners going broke. It’s certainly not a fair comparison but it’s ridiculously dramatic.)

This should be raising a question for everyone. No amount of money is enough to fill the hole of someone that is financially incompetent. You cannot give a poor person enough money if they’re poor based on their own decision making.

Poverty is a problem that cannot be solved through welfare programs because they don’t come anywhere near addressing the real problems of poverty. This reminds me of a news story I read recently…

Homelessness = Solved

The story announced Utah had nearly eliminated homelessness! The whole article preached about how wonderful the program applied in Utah was. They apparently reduced homelessness by 70%. That sounds pretty wonderful until you hear what they did…

They gave people places to live. Really…

When I read that I felt the compelling urge to mention excrement, Sherlock Holmes, and a two letter word into my response…

Duh! Of course you can give people homes to solve homelessness. This isn’t an innovation. Now, perhaps, lets address the two major (obvious) problems, where is this money coming from and HOW COULD YOU HAVE ONLY REDUCED IT BY 70% WHEN YOU’RE GIVING PLACES TO LIVE AWAY!?!??!?!?!? These people don’t even have to prove anything.

What? Are these homeless people too good to share an apartment? You have the budget for all these apartments but you can’t even give them away? I think this makes it pretty obvious that the problem is certainly not the budget we’re investing in the problem. It’s the approach we’re taking.

Tossing excess money at this problem just gives the less ethical people the chance to skim some for themselves. The financial holes will never get the chance to hit their own rock bottom to learn a lesson. Giving them more money (or apartments) certainly doesn’t solve anything.

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