Now that I am older I still agree with this assessment for 90% of the poor. As George Will wrote recently and was discussed on some of the major sites, there are only a few simple things people have to do to avoid poverty. As quoted on Wizbang:
"...three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: Graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal."I would add: get as much education as possible, in addition to graduate from high school. These won't give you a mansion on the beach, but they'll put a roof over your head and food on the table.
Other commentators have added a fourth rule: don't get hooked on alcohol or drugs.
But sometimes I have wondered, could I climb out of "poverty" today if I started over with nothing? It's sort of like the question: how long could you survive if you were dropped naked into the middle of the jungle? So here is my thought experiment (gedanken) which could also be a reality TV show:
- I am dropped in the middle of a random city with only the clothes on my back and $10 in my pocket.
- I could not use family, friends, contacts or anyone else who knew me for help, references, money or any other means of support. I was to be starting 100% from scratch, having just fallen out of the sky.
- I could not have access to any assets whatsoever. I would have no credit, but I would also have no bad credit. Assume I got assigned a brand new social security number with no baggage good or bad attached to it; a clean slate.
- I could not allude to or say I had any education beyond what is free to everyone living in the U.S. today: a high-school diploma.
So starting completely from scratch and only $10 in my pocket, where would I be in one year?
My answer is this: I would not be poor. I would not be homeless. I would not be on government assistance. Sure, my standard of living might be pretty darn low, but I would not be some welfare case sitting around waiting for the government to "do something" about poverty. Within ten years I think I could be back in the middle class, and eventually climb back up to where I am today.
And if you think this scenario is far fetched, it is almost exactly the situation Mrs. Director's grandparents were in when they stepped off a boat into this country in 1950. Except they had more education they could point to, but with the trade off being they didn't speak the language.
Mrs. Director's grandfather died a rich man.
Where would you be in a year? If your answer is "not poor", then whose fault is it for people who are poor?