We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Like the Barrister in his fine piece on the subject of poverty, I am interested in understanding who the poor are in the US, and why. What lies behind the census data and stats?
In medicine, we of course deal with many people who are poor due to various physical and mental dysfunctions and disabilities, and our charities and government programs offer them a great deal of help and support. In fact, the poor in general are beneficiaries of a huge safety net in the USA thanks to the generosity of our citizens.
But what I found most interesting in The Barrister's piece was this notion of the "voluntarily poor." In America, we are too quick to assume that everybody wants to be rich.
Indeed, I think no sane person would refuse a $160,000,000 check from Powerball, but the word "voluntary" refers to behavior, not to idle thoughts and dreams. If you aren't willing to move from Podunk, Maine to Charlotte, NC to get a good job, you are indeed voluntarily poor. And if you would rather drop out of high school and have four kids as a single Mom in St. Johnsbury, VT, you are also voluntarily poor. If you are an uneducated, illiterate immigrant, you are voluntarily poor - but presumably better-off than at home.
I would like to be able to look behind the poverty stats to try to understand what choices in life the poor have made, with the understanding that these choices probably reflect a part of what they want in life. Not everyone is materially-driven, and most people are only partially materially-driven. Some people are driven to nothing at all, including basic self-respect. Some are, in fact, motivated by dependency.
There are only two facts that I know for certain: Single moms are often poor, and people who do not work full-time are often poor. Gals who get knocked up without "a ring and a date" are deeply foolish. Government support (if it were included as income) would bring them out of the poverty stats, however - but that support from their neighbors rewards bad decisions made by folks who have not been taught better, or who simply haven't made any life plan. Life lived recklessly sometimes - but very rarely - works out.
I'd like every kid to be taught, by example and by words, that they have something of value to add to their families, their country, and to other people, but that none of that will be be realized without making smart choices and without making a plan.
Freedom demands a lot of maturity from people because it offers so many choices.
Apparently, if you graduate from high school, get married before having kids, and if at least one of the couple has a job, and if you have no more kids than you can afford, things tend to work out fairly peachy in the USA.
However, the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy implied is not addressed. In the end, do the data say anything more circular than "People who run their lives well do well in life"?
You gave me a smile despite the seriousness of your essay:
"Freedom demands a lot of maturity from people because it offers so many choices."
You offered up so much, almost something new with each sentence, that I'm overwhelmed by choice. Which to talk about? :)
I'll think on it, but I know my first reaction to why someone might settle for poor (voluntarily) is that maybe they fear failure more than poverty. I am thinking a mind-game is going on from long-time criticism that convinces him he can't do it.... so why take the chance of failure and more criticism - even if it's self-criticism.
I'd be interested in seeing why some people are inherently lazy. I am at the moment, so I think I'll go for a nap.