Poverty Is Increasing — And It’s Our Fault

The most significant reason the rate of poverty is increasing in our country is because we’ve established a poverty culture, where generation after generation grows up expecting the government to support them.

Some will shake their heads and point out that welfare pays barely enough to get by on. That may be true but, to some people, regardless of how little it is, getting something for nothing is more attractive than working.  And, if their standard of living is low, they resent the government for not giving them enough to support a higher standard of living. Many also subsidize their entitlements with “unreported income,” and feel justified in doing so because, if they reported it, the evil government would have the temerity to cut their benefits!

I’m not suggesting that this is true of all people receiving government aid. Some people use it the way it’s intended, as a short term safety net to get them through a catastrophic crisis (a role that has traditionally been filled by private charities). But many people make it a lifestlye. And the most insidious part of this culture of dependency is that they raise their children with the same expectations they have. As they have more children, and their children have more children, the number of people who live in a constant state of dependency grows greater with each successive generation. What’s more, the system actually rewards the poor for having more children. The more children you have, the more benefits you automatically get, whether you care properly for your children or not.

If we did not set people up with the expectation that, if they fail to provide for themselves, somebody else will always provide for them, a lot more people would figure out ways to provide for themselves. More significantly, they would be better off by doing so. And so would their children and their children’s children, because children learn by example from the people who raise them and the culture in which they grow up.

I agree with those who say our government is largely responsible for the rate of poverty in this country today. But it’s not because the government doesn’t redistribute enough wealth to the poor. It’s because the government sets up the expectation that people don’t have to take responsibility for their own lives or the welfare of their own families. And that is a great shame.

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Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 10:29 am  Comments (18)  
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  1. In this country’s system, you can’t have a top without a bottom…it’s just that simple. I thought we reformed Welfare in the 90s so that you couldn’t go from generation to generation on it. Just try and get unemployment benefits for more than a couple of months and see how easy it is to get by “on the dole”. If private charities were doing so well with the poor in the past, then why were Welfare programs enacted in the first place??

    So, the poor shouldn’t have so many children…sounds like freedom regins supreme…for the “haves” only I guess.

  2. I disagree with you, Mister Guy. It’s not a zero sum game. The wonderful thing about a free market economy is, the more people who contribute, the bigger the pie gets. It’s only when we have people taking, who contribute nothing in return, that the pie gets smaller.

    No, the poor shouldn’t have so many children. If you can’t afford to raise a child, you shouldn’t have one. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

  3. You’re missing the point…for someone that opines so much about “freedom”…I would think you would come down on the side of people being able to have the number of children that they want to…this isn’t China yanno…

  4. Freedom entails responsibility. It’s irresponsible to have more children than you can afford to raise. I’m not saying the government should limit the number of children anybody can have. I’m just saying it shouldn’t take money out of my pocket to pay for them.

    Freedom without responsibility is anarchy. I’m a conservative, not an anarchist.

  5. Let me guess. The reason that 3% of individuals control 50% of the planet’s wealth is simply because of expectations cause people to want to be poor? The system in place has nothing to do with current distribution of wealth?

  6. Wiggles*worth*, poverty in America is very different from poverty in the rest of the world. The poor here have government subsidized housing, hot and cold running water, electricity, phones, cable TV, and food stamps (that they can use to by food, drugs, stolen property, or just about anything else they want). The poor in most of the world live in tarpaper shacks, or the equivalent, without any of the amenities that pretty much everybody in this country takes for granted.

    Most of the world is beset by poverty because there are no opportunities. Many of them subsist on what they can grow and are subject to drought and famine. The poor in this country are rich by the standards of most of the rest of the world, and they have free education, of which many don’t even bother to take advantage because they don’t value it. The differences are not just in terms of living conditions, but of opportunity.

    There are almost unlimited opportunities for employment here, but many of the jobs for unskilled labor are hard, dirty, boring, and don’t pay all that well, by American standards. So many people opt for entitlements instead, often subsidized by “unreported income.” People in many parts of the world would feel fortunate to have the opportunity to take those jobs for much less than the wages and benefits mandated by our government, and that’s why we have so many illegal aliens willing to come here and do the jobs at which Americans turn up their noses.

  7. “The poor here have government subsidized housing, hot and cold running water, electricity, phones, cable TV, and food stamps (that they can use to by food, drugs, stolen property, or just about anything else they want).”

    This, of course, is ridiculous nonsense. Ever hear of the homeless? Ever been to a real housing project or a low-income, private rental unit and looked at the living conditions? You’ve never worked “under the table” before?

    Blame the poor for their own plight…sounds like the same Republican nonsense that I’ve heard oh-so-many times before.

  8. “Ever hear of the homeless?”

    The homeless are a very small percentage of the poor in this country. Interestingly, the homeless are better served by charities than by the government, because you need an address to get government subsidies, which, obviously, the homeless don’t have. Charities aren’t bound by the bureaucratic restrictions of government programs and are able to offer food, shelter, and clothing for those who will accept it.

    “Ever been to a real housing project or a low-income, private rental unit and looked at the living conditions?”

    Why, yes, actually, I lived in a tenement in a ghetto in NYC for a year, in my early twenties, when I couldn’t afford anything else. I wonder if you’ve had as much first hand experience as I have with poverty and those who make a lifestyle of it. You seem to have an idealized vision of the poor, living in squalor over which they have no control. I know better. I lived in the middle of it.

    I was quite naive at the time, and tried to make friends with all my neighbors. At first, they were wary of me, but I went out of my way to be open-minded and non-judgemental, and took a free-market laissez-faire attitude toward all the various “enterprises” in which they engaged.

    Gradually, they got used to me, and no longer bothered concealing things and using code words in my presence. I wouldn’t exactly say they “trusted” me, but at least they grew convinced that I was harmless. (Of course, once I convinced them I was harmless, some of them started to view me as prey.) I have to admit, the rest of my life pales in comparison with the vividness of that year, but I sure did learn a lot about where government entitlements go…

  9. Where do you think those charities actually get a lot of the food that they give out to the homeless for free…the govt. that’s where.

    Are we gonna “out poor” one another now? I grew up a mile away (in two separate directions of course) from the richest part of town and the cheapest place to buy pot on the East coast. My home city’s nickname is “the Bucket”. A lot of my friends used drugs when I was growing up. We went to the Salvation Army to get clothes and used food stamps for food sometimes. I had little to no money while I put myself through college. I’m not crying over any of it either. A whole year in a tenement huh? Wow…

    Everyone has a certain amount of control over their own lives, but it’s a little hard to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when you don’t have any in the first place. People are born in this country all the time with multiple strikes against them that they can do little to nothing about. To not acknowledge that is to deny the truth.

  10. You have a valid point, Mr. Guy. Not all poor people choose to milk the entitlements system while they supplement their entitlements will ill-gotten gains. But a very large number do. My problem is that government programs have no way to make a distinction between them — or, even if they know which are which, they’re required to treat them all the same.

    I worked while attending college, too. In fact, I got my first work permit when I was fourteen, and worked after school and every summer through high school, saving almost all of my money for college. Luckily, I also earned a National Merit Scholarship, because all my savings didn’t amount to half of one year’s tuition. I’m not competing with you for “poor” credentials. My family was not poor. My father’s a minister. Ministers don’t make much but, while I never had the luxuries my friends enjoyed, that was at least as much due to my parents’ values as it was to our financial situation.

    I admire your perseverence and the fact that you did, in fact, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, proving that it can be done by those who have the will to do so. BTW, as I’m sure you know, the Salvation Army is a private charity, not a government program…

    “People are born in this country all the time with multiple strikes against them that they can do little to nothing about.”

    Everybody is dealt a different hand. People born into the middle class mostly end up at about the same level where they started out. The same is true for people who are born into the ghetto. It’s harder to change than to stay the same, no matter where you start out. And, of course, it’s harder to climb up than to slide down. No matter where they start out, most people just roll along the tracks that are laid out for them, and don’t bother to take control of their own lives. But, as you so clearly demonstrated, it can be done.

  11. I think I’ve said before that I’ve given to the Salvation Army since being on my own and out of college. I know who they are, and I personally like giving something back to them since they helped my family when I was young. I also remember saying that there’s plenty of room for *both* public and private entities helping out the poor. I would never say that all govt. programs are really efficient, but the need is great & until we find a solution to poverty…we need all the help we can get IMO.

    Try and go on unemployment and see how much they check up on you. My state rides people pretty hard to get a job or they cut off benefits pretty quick.

    What pissed me off about saving for college is that both myself and my Mom did that ever since I was young, then when it came time to ask for financial aid…they held that & the fact that my Mom had almost paid off our house against us. None of our savings amounted to squat either. There were no scholarships for me…I’m glad you at least got one. I’m lucky that I had parents that valued an education above pretty much anything else…it’s the most important thing someone can get I think. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be a poor, black, female child though in this country. It’s not like someone can’t overcome all those strikes, but it’s going to be waaay harder than I went through almost for sure.

    One if my first “real” jobs was at a rate of, I think, $3.85/hour, which was the minimum wage back then. I couldn’t even afford to drive to work…I had to take my bike. I understand then why the minimum wage needs to be set at a level so it’s not completely pointless for someone to have a job where they can pay absolutely none of their essential needs just to get by.

    The American Dream is supposed to be about making a better life for yourself than your parents were able to…it’s not about inertia.

  12. […] presents Poverty Is Increasing ? And It?s Our Fault posted at Government is not your […]

  13. […] presents Poverty Is Increasing — And It’s Our Fault posted at Government is not your Daddy., saying, “The most significant reason the rate of […]

  14. The vast majority of people want decent jobs and economic opportunity. I’ve never met anyone,who enjoys being on food stamps,likes to be poor,or would take a pittance government check over a good job with decent pay. Most of the damage to and ipoverishment of the American workforce was done by the wars are good,don’t tax the rich,voodoo economics,republican party.

  15. Joe Rathman,

    ” I’ve never met anyone,who enjoys being on food stamps,likes to be poor,or would take a pittance government check over a good job with decent pay. ”

    I meet them all the time. I call them Democrats.

    ” Most of the damage to and ipoverishment of the American workforce was done by the wars are good,don’t tax the rich,voodoo economics,republican party. ”

    You are safe from Islamic Terrorism thanks to those wars. You are at least safe enough to complain about those who saved you.

    Besides, how is that screw the rich workin out for ya ? Unemployment go up or down under “green socialism” ? Is making the rich poorer getting anyone a job ? Where are all the “Green Jobs”? Where did the Stimulus money go?

    Obama is a magician. He made $750 billion disappear into thin air.

    • Alan Scott,

      Your perception of what exists in the “good old USA,” is badly in need of updating! Your awareness level seems to be at zero!

      The amount of influence over their own lives that the average person has within this global economy is very much limited, in face I would say it is almost at the zero mark.

      In todays economy, the “Middle Class” is rapidly disappearing. The good paying jobs no longer exists because of the influence of “Big Business” that has practically destroyed the “Unions” in America, by “Automating” most of the good paying factory jobs and by shipping much of our Industrial productive capacity, to the Nations that rely on cheap Slave Labor!

      The Unpatriotic Greed, that is a part of the Global Economy, knows no bounds, and it is impossible for most people to be in charge of their own lives and their own destiny.

      The “Banking Industry” that operates as an entity, separate from everything and everyone else has turned the world’s economy into a “Gambling Casino” that operates to benefit those that are billionaire insiders on Wall Street!”

      The average person has no control over what happens within this global economy and has little or no control over their lives, that is why there is so much “frustration” within the many destitute and poor working families and formerly middle class families that exists in America at the present time.

      The “Conservative and Libertarian” movements are so much away from what presently exists within our modern economic sphere that if they keep on talking about “The poor are lazy and that’s why they are poor!” they will be regarded as “CRAZY and RUN OUT OF TOWN!”

  16. Mr. Walters,

    I hesitate to reply to you because in the past you have never honestly debated me . You simply answer my questions with your stock dogma. When you are ready to actually respond to specific questions about specific events, say so .

  17. […] Poverty Is Increasing — … of poverty is increasing in our country is because we’ve established a poverty culture, where generation … people who live in a constant state … is-increasing-and-its-our-fault … […]

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