Watch Michael Lewis: I Aimed To Give Something Unexpected on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
It really does, as Lewis says, seem "kind of obvious." Hard to imagine how people manage to avoid or deny the obvious.
According to the 2012 HHS Poverty Guidelines U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (Accessed: 14 June 2012), a family of four earning a total household income of $23,050 or less is officially impoverished. I entered this amount into a comparison calculator at The Global Rich List. From that I learned at an annual income of $23K, the poor family in America is in the top 11% of earners in the world. Many of you who are concerned with the poor make in the top one or two percent of world incomes.Damn! If you're reading this post, you're rich! And you thought you were doing your liberal duty to cheer on a guy in the top .02% as he attempts to make the middle class feel guilty about their microwaves, cell-phones, suv-mobiles, and weekly lattes. If you really want to make a difference in the world, make policy changes in the USA that simply removes barriers to firms' attempts at growing their businesses (they'll hire more people and move Americans above the poverty line). Then spend your money building relationships and businesses in other parts of the world, where there really are no or limited infrastructures for job growth. (We may have to rescue a few citizens from their govts.)Kind of obvious, huh?
Way to get off point! Back to the point:It is not that luck or individual ability/effort are a choice. It is not either/or. It is both/and. Anyone who is very successful has had some combination of personal skill and luck come together to get them where they are. And I have known many successful people who readily say so.
Anon 2:38: You're missing the point of even your off-point point.There is absolute poverty - insufficient resources to meet basic needs, such as shelter and food on the table. There is also relative poverty. The U.S. has both. In the Rio Grande Valley, Mississippi basin and Applachia we have plenty of absolute poverty. As for relative poverty, just try to design a budget on which a family of four can survive on $24,000 a year - $2,000 a month. In areas like Dallas a 2 bedroom for under $1,000 is hard to find. Add $400 for utilities and $400 for food (only $100 a week). You're down to your last $200 meeting only the most basic expenses to live a life which no one would find luxurious. That sort of relative poverty is very real, even if many in the world are even worse off.
Some of you are finding it very difficult to hate yourselves for being rich.
By almost any standard, I am "rich." I do not hate myself for it. In fact, I probably like it too much. But I also feel a need - both internal and personal, as well as theological - to try to help those who have less than I do. Why is that so hard to undertand? What hardness of heart would motivate anyone to criticise that?
I can see giving away education and training for those at low income levels, along with plenty of advice on how to land a job and build a long-term career. But Larry is an architect of "the poverty industry." Images of City-Square buildings going up strike me as a form of institutionalizing this industry.Whenever you build a scenario to illustrate how difficult it is to be poor, you never include motivators in place to encourage people to get out of poverty. Permanent housing is ... permanent. In the USA being poor makes you rich, compared to the rest of the world. And if Larry has his way, the American poor will become middle class in the near future.
Anon 4:20, thanks for your comment. If it seems that we and others "institutionalize" responses to poverty, please understand that we do so in response to the institutions that create it as well as to the symptoms that such systemic injustice produce over and over again and at a scale that would blow you away should you ever take the time to have a close look.
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