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Explaining Poverty

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With President Obama stressing economic inequality in his State of the Union Address, a new poll seemed to support the idea that the nation’s distribution of wealth is fundamentally unfair. According to the Pew Research Center, more people say an individual’s poverty comes from “circumstances beyond his or her control” than those who blame “lack of effort.”

But the question’s wording is biased and misleading: had the pollsters asked whether people are poor because of “bad choices and mistaken priorities” many more would have agreed than the 35 percent who cited “lack of effort.”

Determined hard work can’t always make up for mistakes like dropping out of high school, teenage criminality and drug abuse, or pregnancy outside of marriage. Most Americans also understand such behavior isn’t entirely “beyond” an individual’s control—even for the most deeply disadvantaged young people.

Comments (7)

  1. From: Faustin Reeder   On: February 2, 2014

    This isn’t groundbreaking information, but if you pay yourself first, and do not buy things you do not need, with money you do not have, to impress people you do not know, you will become wealthy.

    Please read “The Richest Man in Babylon”

  2. From: Guess who   On: February 6, 2014

    Now let’s explain wealth. Medved a story starts with an illiterate grandfather who comes to America and has a son David. David gets a lot of government assistance including a scholorship the mayor. He makes a good salary working both for the government and on military projects. He starts a couple successful businesses the last one in Israel where he leaves the good ol USA and moves to this 51st state dies and is buried as Michael and his brothers will likely also be buried. Because this is his real home. He likely inherits a lot of money and up scales his living standard on Mercer Island named after a Methodist minister and works hard to make it a jewish community with the help of the shady Lapin

    Then comes Michael who rides on the success of his dad after a little rumspringa that included seeing a porn movie (as stated on his radio program) and likely some other sordid extra marital sex most likely. Finally with jewish connections, he gets a job with the show “sneak previews” a program that only hires jewish people. His is the life of the aristocaracy of jewish connections.

    • From: Mark Reed   On: February 7, 2014

      What vile nonsense.

  3. From: Jim's IRA   On: February 7, 2014

    When I was in my twenties I opened a IRA account and faithfully put $2,000.00 in that account every year because it was tax-free and self directed, stock investments with no annual fees, I soon accumulated well over a million dollars. I have a high school education and I had no previous experience with buying stocks. I am now 65 years old and I am enjoying my retirement. I would suggest that anyone who wants to succeed in this country can with just a little effort, and perseverance. Taxes is what will keeps you from achieving the dream.

  4. From: Earl Chantrill   On: February 7, 2014

    I commend those who have been successful in achieving the dream. Despite making the “right” choices, however, sometimes such things as poor health can derail the train.

  5. From: Guess who   On: February 9, 2014

    You don’t judge the political/economic of a country by the possibility of individual success (hell Russia has billionaires), you judge it by the probability of achieving it. You judge a society by how low of a standard of living they are comfortable living with. In other words how much of a safety net they demand. In the USA we are comfortable with people living in cardboard boxes under the freeway.

  6. From: hobbledeehoy   On: February 12, 2014

    Easiest way to avoid poverty? Work a job and get married before having children. Really, how hard is it to do that? If you do those two SIMPLE things, you will never live in poverty (barring some unforeseen catastrophe of course)

    If I had a nickel for every person I’ve encountered who was singularly responsible for digging their own hole in life through one poor decision after another, well I’d have at least a buck seventy-five.

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