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Let’s Look at the Poor. … Eewwww!

July 22, 2012


Time to dig in and inexpertly examine the poverty problem with no research or backup to think of.  And when we speak of the poor, let’s understand it’s the persistent poor, not those who’ve dropped from the heaven of the middle class destined to rebound when the economy picks up, but the institutional poor; they’re poor, their parents were poor, and so on.

Let’s break them down into easily managed and perhaps fictional categories to outline appropriate solutions, ‘kay?  In descending order:

The Rogues

These crafty fellows are the dirt-class entrepreneurs.  Using “the Man” and poverty as an excuse to become criminals, they sell drugs, people, stolen goods that they’ve personally liberated from “the Man.”  They defraud Welfare, Social Security and their grandmothers.  Solution:  Gentle rehabilitation behind titanium/iron bars.  Deep understanding with incarceration.

The Rogues-Lite

These folks cheat on Welfare, earning money under the table and not reporting it to the government or they buy outrageous things with Welfare that it was never meant to buy.  Honestly, I understand these folks.  Someone wants to give me free money and I’m able to earn some on my own, why would I report it and lose the free money?  Nonetheless, it’s wrong.  Solution:  Tie training and education to Welfare and throw in re-envisioning.  They can work, they have ability, let’s improve on this.

Wacky Wonders

Some people are crazy or mentally handicapped or just too weird to work.  You can throw in physically damaged people as well.  Some need to be institutionalized and some just need help.  Solution: Better facilities and well-run Disability.  Don’t see any way around this.

The No-Hope Crowd

To me, this is the heartbreaking group.  They’ve given up or never had hope to begin with.  They dropped out of school or were pulled out. They were screwed by our culture, government, military, history or their own history.  They’re as honest as they can be while trying to survive.  Welfare is the difference between life and death for them.  The American safety net was built for them.  Solution:  Same as above, heavy on the re-envisioning.  Learned helplessness is a monster with deeply-sunk claws, though, so counseling is necessary and education can be empowering.

Incidental Poor

Okay, I said I wouldn’t include these folks, but they’re different than the guy who got laid-off and he and his family will bounce back.  These are the single moms and single fathers who’s life circumstances changed.  They will probably bounce back, but maybe not.  Welfare is perfectly appropriate for them and tying in education and training would make a big difference.

Poor But Determined

There is enough self-help gurus, churches and even movies that can spontaneously re-envision people.  They’ve woken up to the fact that without education their screwed.  They regret dropping out, or not doing well (learning disabilities or delayed development can destroy early education, but as adults might not).  They’ve adjusted their attitudes and perspectives and want to climb out of poverty.  Really, the goal of most of the above categories is to funnel them into this one.  Solution: While education should be a part of every solution, this one should have beefed up programs that you have to pass interviews to get into.  Screen applicants for attitudes and goals.  Provide housing if you have to.

Summary:  Right now our safety net is focused on money, which does nothing to change the situation, it just perpetuates it.  The focus of our welfare program should be education, training and counseling aimed to make the funding needs temporary.

Conservatives have the bad rap of not caring.  The truth is, most of us don’t want to fund a broken system that forestalls a solution.  We know that giving things for nothing will not bring ownership, responsibility or lasting change.  Create a strong program that actually deals with poverty and it will be supported.  Assault the attitudes of all Americans, envision, inspire and equip the poor with the ability and outlook to move up.  Design a government-corporate partnership where they work together to make a solution and you’ll find support.


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