Author Topic: One more perspective on poverty  (Read 15290 times)

galliver

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One more perspective on poverty
« on: September 07, 2014, 12:31:13 PM »
My friend posted this article today and I found it very revealing with regards to the types of systems that exist and keep people in this country (US) in a state of poverty. The basic premise is that the sheer number of municipalities in the St Louis suburbs (formed due to racist zoning practices in the early 20th century), result in areas that can't support themselves primarily on property and sales tax (like areas that are more well-off do). Instead, they rely on fees and fines. And the police/court system ends up being run to optimize this revenue...to the detriment of the area's residents. It's really rather sickening how this gets perpetuated. :(

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/

Ohio Teacher

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 05:10:12 PM »
I want to feel for people like the first lady in the article.  I want to empathize with her plight.  But, at the same time, she did skip court three times.  And I have this burning cynicism in me that just knows she owns at least two of the following: iPhone, Coach purse, iPad, car less than five years old and uses at least two of the following services on a regular basis: mani/pedi, hair salon, massage. 

I know this because many of these people have a different values system than us.  This transcends race so please don't think I'm just talking about the people in the article.  They will go on and on about not being able to afford some necessary expense, but they will still have the latest and greatest consumer electronics and pay people to do things to their bodies for them.  The idea of saving is limited to shopping at a "save 50% sale!."

They will never dig out of the hole and if they ever have a windfall, they will fall into the hole again. 

Call it systemic failure, call it poverty culture, call it what you want.  I have just witnessed it so much in my young life that I know better than to expect any of it to change.  And I surely don't believe one county's fine-based government system has anything to do with it.

Sdsailing

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2014, 05:18:12 PM »


She couldn't afford to show up in court? I call total B.S.

electriceagle

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2014, 05:56:17 PM »
Call it systemic failure, call it poverty culture, call it what you want.  I have just witnessed it so much in my young life that I know better than to expect any of it to change.  And I surely don't believe one county's fine-based government system has anything to do with it.

Unfortunately, our social, political, benefit and tax systems encourage people who are in poverty to stay in poverty. A significant portion of this is high effective marginal tax rates for people who are just above the poverty line.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12533

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000 has to jump above $50,000 for their extra income to override the disincentives built into our system.

Few couples earning $25k have the skills to jump directly to $50k. Since it never makes economic sense to earn an extra $5k, they don't move up stepwise and remain in poverty instead.

This addresses one of the general causes of extended poverty, not the issue of people with open warrants as in the article. Except for cases of non-notification due to address change, I can't justify repeatedly not showing up for court. 

arebelspy

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2014, 03:28:01 PM »
There but for random chance and causal determinants go I.

What a shame.
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rocksinmyhead

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2014, 03:48:17 PM »


She couldn't afford to show up in court? I call total B.S.

They explicitly say in the article that she (mistakenly) thought that if she showed up to court and was unable to pay the fine, she would be put in jail.

There but for random chance and causal determinants go I.

What a shame.

+1

I want to feel for people like the first lady in the article.  I want to empathize with her plight.  But, at the same time, she did skip court three times.  And I have this burning cynicism in me that just knows she owns at least two of the following: iPhone, Coach purse, iPad, car less than five years old and uses at least two of the following services on a regular basis: mani/pedi, hair salon, massage.

I have this burning cynicism in me that just knows you're white and grew up upper-middle-class, with two college-educated parents (or at least they had some post-high school education) who were a part of your life. I bet you were never at risk of being homeless growing up, never went hungry, and never witnessed domestic abuse.

See how dumb that is? I don't know any of those things about you, I'm just making assumptions. Some of them probably aren't even true... just like the ones you made about this woman.

Goldie

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2014, 04:04:01 PM »
I want to feel for people like the first lady in the article.  I want to empathize with her plight.  But, at the same time, she did skip court three times.  And I have this burning cynicism in me that just knows she owns at least two of the following: iPhone, Coach purse, iPad, car less than five years old and uses at least two of the following services on a regular basis: mani/pedi, hair salon, massage.
I was an attorney for Children's Protective Services and unfortunately this is so true.  I would constantly see mothers come to court who weren't providing clothes for their kids or who couldn't get a ride to visit them in foster care, yet they had a smart phone (which I didn't have!) or elaborate manicures (which I didn't have!).  Eventually it became a normal thing to me that they'd have on their acrylic nails but not have a ride to see their children, despite receiving two weekly bus tokens from the agency. If it were me I'd pay for a cab and make sure I was doing the right thing. It scared me when I was no longer surprised by the things I saw.  I remember a group of teachers who banded together to buy a refrigerator for a single mom whose child was in their classes. The mom sold the new fridge for cash to buy a television.

This kind of stuff makes me want to scream.  Also the moms who literally had eight children in foster care and came to court visibly pregnant. I was 30 and a professional woman and didn't have children yet because I felt I couldn't properly afford a child. My husband and I will likely have just our son, maybe a second child at the most, for financial reasons. I can't just can't feel too sorry for the first woman in the article with four children.

4alpacas

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2014, 04:54:35 PM »
"As it turns out, in 1998 Bel-Ridge police had received permission from the DOT to install switch at the light that allowed an officer to manually convert it to red. The switch was installed so an officer could allow children from a nearby school to safely cross the road. But the engineer witnessed police switching the light to red when there were no children present at the intersection at all, just as groups of cars were passing through. Another officer would then pull one or more cars over and issue them tickets. Bel-Ridge police denied the allegation, and insisted that officers only switched the light to red when children needed to cross. But the engineer found that most of the morning tickets were issued between 9 and 10:30am, when school was already in session. The Post-Dispatch noted that in 1996, two years before the switch was installed, Bel-Ridge derived 29 percent of its annual revenue from traffic fines. In 1999, the first full year after the switch was installed, that figure jumped to 44.8 percent."

Wow!  What happened to old school crossing guards?

"Older, shabbier cars get stopped more often because police suspect they’re more likely to be driven by people who can’t afford insurance or registration fees."

If an officer chooses to change the light on you in your shabbier car, you will still get a ticket for running a red light.  It's kinda scary to think about. 

gimp

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2014, 05:15:43 PM »
Unfortunately, our social, political, benefit and tax systems encourage people who are in poverty to stay in poverty. A significant portion of this is high effective marginal tax rates for people who are just above the poverty line.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12533

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000 has to jump above $50,000 for their extra income to override the disincentives built into our system.

Few couples earning $25k have the skills to jump directly to $50k. Since it never makes economic sense to earn an extra $5k, they don't move up stepwise and remain in poverty instead.

This addresses one of the general causes of extended poverty, not the issue of people with open warrants as in the article. Except for cases of non-notification due to address change, I can't justify repeatedly not showing up for court.

I read the paper. It's bullshit, complete and utter bullshit.

4alpacas

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2014, 05:21:16 PM »
Unfortunately, our social, political, benefit and tax systems encourage people who are in poverty to stay in poverty. A significant portion of this is high effective marginal tax rates for people who are just above the poverty line.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12533

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000 has to jump above $50,000 for their extra income to override the disincentives built into our system.

Few couples earning $25k have the skills to jump directly to $50k. Since it never makes economic sense to earn an extra $5k, they don't move up stepwise and remain in poverty instead.

This addresses one of the general causes of extended poverty, not the issue of people with open warrants as in the article. Except for cases of non-notification due to address change, I can't justify repeatedly not showing up for court.

I read the paper. It's bullshit, complete and utter bullshit.
gimp, what are your issues with the paper?  It's too long for me to bother reading.  A brief synopsis of the "bullshit" would be nice.

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2014, 07:23:39 PM »
Unfortunately, our social, political, benefit and tax systems encourage people who are in poverty to stay in poverty. A significant portion of this is high effective marginal tax rates for people who are just above the poverty line.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12533

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000 has to jump above $50,000 for their extra income to override the disincentives built into our system.

Few couples earning $25k have the skills to jump directly to $50k. Since it never makes economic sense to earn an extra $5k, they don't move up stepwise and remain in poverty instead.

This addresses one of the general causes of extended poverty, not the issue of people with open warrants as in the article. Except for cases of non-notification due to address change, I can't justify repeatedly not showing up for court.

I read the paper. It's bullshit, complete and utter bullshit.
gimp, what are your issues with the paper?  It's too long for me to bother reading.  A brief synopsis of the "bullshit" would be nice.

Just skimmed through the paper - it was quite interesting and very revealing. Not sure what gimp's issues were.

gimp

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2014, 07:25:21 PM »
I wrote a pretty big rant about it, then deleted it. Here are my key take-aways. One, they try to calculate the effects of all federal and local taxes and aid, including things like the employer side of FICA and sales / consumption taxes and so on. This is obviously incredibly complicated. I don't take issue with the length of the paper as much as I take issue with the dense writing and the assumptions they make, as well as how they value the monetary value of conditional aid (eg: medicare aid can help you pay for $x but that's not material unless you actually need medical aid that year). They jump between examples, poorly illustrating them. That tells me that either A) I don't know shit, and this paper is not meant for me, which means that I can't understand its value as a source and therefore take issue with it being used as a source in a layman argument or B) they're being confusing on purpose in order to bury the people who might read the methodology to challenge the conclusions.

If I have an argument on general and special relativity on a web forum, I'm going to use commonly accepted and layman-worded interpretations of Einstein's equations. If I have an argument with a physicist, I'll use the source material. Throwing the equations at someone on a forum to convince them you're right doesn't work - they only get more pissed off because they can't understand what you're saying, and for all they know, you could have made up the conclusion (or even the equations) and they have no way of knowing.

galliver

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2014, 12:09:54 AM »
This is a system that:
-disproportionately affects people of lesser means
-is convoluted and difficult to understand, by design and thus preys upon people who are more likely to be undereducated and underrepresented

It also works against itself, really, by trapping people in the cycle. Like the child support example: a man can lose his license for not paying child support; making it more difficult for him to get and keep a job; making it more difficult for him to pay child support. Or the warrants for non-payment of tickets/fines that make it hard for people to get hired, or partake in educational programs. And clearly, these hurdles start early, with teenagers who are in foster homes or homeless. Before those people are legally considered able to be responsible for themselves!

I think it's unreasonable to claim that this system is not *one* example of the many factors that make it more difficult for (most) people to climb out of poverty. Is there an element of personal choice? Yes. Is it possible to avoid getting dinged by the system? Also yes. But it requires a little luck, and the odds are very literally stacked against you if you are more likely than the guy in the Lexus to be pulled over for speeding because the cops know you're also more likely to have other violations and are less likely to fight your ticket, and they exist to make the city money.

This isn't a just system, and since it relies on extracting money from people who don't have it, it's not even a particularly effective one.

Kaspian

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2014, 12:08:41 PM »
It's probably unreasonable to expect people from any uneducated area to make smart and wise decisions?  I mean sure, you get the exception but overall if it's a poor area with poor schools and nobody goes on to college, you can't expect a helluva lot of intellectual saavy.  ...Unless it's in the moment of immediate survival--I'm sure that's where the brain power is focused.  Sure there are wealthy people from affluent neighbourhoods who are just as horrible with money, but they've probably had enough math education that if they really wanted they could sit down with a calculator and create a proper budget.

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000...

I have never understood this short-sighted logic.  Sure, you move from $25K to $30K.  Then you vie for $40K, don't you?  Onward and upward?  If you stall yourself permanently at $25K because you're afraid of making more because more will be taken in taxes, aren't you really stepping on your own dick?

Beric01

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2014, 02:06:08 PM »
I have never understood this short-sighted logic.  Sure, you move from $25K to $30K.  Then you vie for $40K, don't you?  Onward and upward?  If you stall yourself permanently at $25K because you're afraid of making more because more will be taken in taxes, aren't you really stepping on your own dick?

The argument being made is that for someone feeling stuck in poverty, if they don't see any benefit to getting the first $5000, they won't have much motivation to go upwards and onwards beyond that.

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2014, 02:25:10 PM »
I have never understood this short-sighted logic.  Sure, you move from $25K to $30K.  Then you vie for $40K, don't you?  Onward and upward?  If you stall yourself permanently at $25K because you're afraid of making more because more will be taken in taxes, aren't you really stepping on your own dick?

The argument being made is that for someone feeling stuck in poverty, if they don't see any benefit to getting the first $5000, they won't have much motivation to go upwards and onwards beyond that.

I'm going to go read the paper then circle back, but what about PRIDE? Motivation to stand on your own two feet. I agree with Kaspian here. I would rather make $35K with $0 benefits than make $25K with $10K worth of benefits. I don't want to depend on anyone else to provide for me. It's hard for me to understand why someone else would want to depend on others to provide. I'm not saying it's possible for everyone to provide for themselves, but they should be motivated to do so out of pride.

arebelspy

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2014, 02:46:20 PM »
I have never understood this short-sighted logic.  Sure, you move from $25K to $30K.  Then you vie for $40K, don't you?  Onward and upward?  If you stall yourself permanently at $25K because you're afraid of making more because more will be taken in taxes, aren't you really stepping on your own dick?

The argument being made is that for someone feeling stuck in poverty, if they don't see any benefit to getting the first $5000, they won't have much motivation to go upwards and onwards beyond that.

I'm going to go read the paper then circle back, but what about PRIDE? Motivation to stand on your own two feet. I agree with Kaspian here. I would rather make $35K with $0 benefits than make $25K with $10K worth of benefits. I don't want to depend on anyone else to provide for me. It's hard for me to understand why someone else would want to depend on others to provide. I'm not saying it's possible for everyone to provide for themselves, but they should be motivated to do so out of pride.

Not everyone is motivated by that., and if it takes working a lot more hours/week to earn that 35 and nets you the same, I can see why people wouldn't.
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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2014, 03:08:11 PM »
At one point in my life I was a social worker and many families live in generational poverty.  This is all they know. In other families you are taught that you must work hard for what you have and to be ashamed to take aid.  Therefore, if you grow up in the 2nd group and become poor you are more likely to want to change your situation.  However, if you grew up in the first group & everyone you know lives the same way you are less likely to be bothered by it.  It is not impossible to change but very, very difficult.

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2014, 04:06:14 PM »
My brain hurts. That was a lot of reading in the article and the white paper. I ended up skimming the last half of both. Here's my take, and sorry, this is long and ranty.

As a life long resident of St. Louis I can tell you our local government system is messy/broken. The city and the county do not get along. The city has the benefit of being one entity, but it has an awful school system and extremely high crime. The county has too many municipalities to remember. Some have terrible property values and therefore little real estate tax revenues. Many of those muni's also have very little economic activity in the way of sales taxes. Many have always had "speed traps" as a source of revenue, and this is not a new thing and you have to be aware of them.

In addition to this, there are many power hungry people here. Many of these municipalities do not get along with one another; they are extremely divided and are willing to "take" sales taxes away from their neighboring muni's. Many politicians here think they are "the Mutt's Nutts". Like no one else alive is more important than them. Like everything they do and say is perfect and should never be questioned. I've seen it first hand in board/council/committee meetings, and it's really disgusting. These Muni's fight over who will get the next Wal-Mart to bring in millions in sales tax. They erect huge city halls and spend thousands on plaques to put on the buildings with the mayor's/board members names on them so their "importance" can be eternalized. It's really weird.

Since I'm a white male I have no personal experience with racial profiling here, but after reading those articles and hearing all the stories over the last month, as well as hearing many stories around the country all my life, it's hard to deny it exists. I don't know what the answer is here, and I hate that it happens.

Even with everything negative I just said, I love this city. It's hard to describe, but many of the people here are just great and few ever leave. It's just a good place to live overall. Recent events make it seem otherwise, but it's true for most people here.

Here's my main take-away from reading all of this today:
1) It is crazy that a city can require you to pay for trash pickup service from only one approved vendor. This is just wrong on many levels.

2) If the constitution is being ignored by not letting family into the courtroom that needs to be corrected immediately. Power corrupts and all.

3) Don't break the law and 99% of these issues disappear. If you break the law, be prepared to pay the price.

I've personally been pulled over in Florissant 5 times for various things like speeding, my plates were about to expire and the officer wanted to "remind me" (this was bullshit, he was casing me), I had five girls in the car and 20 rolls of toilet paper in a visible location (yes, we were 16 and they wanted to TP someone's house), etc. I've been in a high speed chase in Florissant where we thought someone was trying to hurt/kill us and we found a policy officer to intervene. I've received 3-4 tickets from the Florissant police and paid fines each time. Florissant is a crazy muni, but I have a lot of family there.

I've been pulled over in Bel-Nor and Bel-Ridge and paid the fines for speeding tickets. I've been pulled over in 2 or three other muni's that are known for speed traps and paid fines and or lawyer fees. I used to speed a lot and considered these fines my annual dues. I've wised up and slowed down since then.

So if you can't afford to register your car, don't buy one and take the bus/metro link/walk/bike.
If your license is revoked, don't drive.
If you can't afford to pay a fine for speeding, don't speed.

As broken as this city seems, and even with racial profiling, if you're not breaking the law I don't see how these muni courts and speed traps are creating/prolonging poverty. This seems like an excuse. If you're a law abiding citizen, most of the time it should just be an inconvenience.

4alpacas

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2014, 04:14:32 PM »
"the Mutt's Nutts"
I'm so glad "the mutt's nuts" is catching on.

« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 05:15:53 PM by 4alpacas »

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2014, 05:03:30 PM »
So, my landlady described the man living with her as her foster son.  He's in his 40s, and helping her to fix up the place (since his work is doing construction).  I recently had a conversation with him that started with, "Hey, so, I'm gonna have to go to jail here soon for a few months."  Um, ok.  He proceeded, "Yeah, it's complete bullshit.  I got a third DUI.  The other two, man, those were 13 years ago.  I'm a different person now, you know?"  At this point I'm thinking, well, you might be a different person but you're clearly making the same mistakes....  He didn't realize, apparently, that they stay on your record for 15 years in our state, and that the third is a felony.  So it's jail for 90 days, revoked license, a huge fine, and his car was impounded.  He then went on to say, "It's such bullshit, you know?  I mean, I'm not some fuckin' criminal.  Not like I broke any real laws, ya know?  Ha ha."
Now, most people hear this and think, "Holy shit, dude, that is denial of a magnitude I can't even comprehend."  That's kinda what I'm thinking, and quite a few other things a lot less mild than that.
But, this man is clearly an alcoholic.  There have been plenty of times, including a number of times since he got that DUI, when he's been in his workshop in the garage, wasted.  Visibly, swayingly drunk.  So, the lightbulb goes off.  Ah!  He's an alcoholic.  It's probably rather amazing that he's only gotten 3 DUIs.
But while you and I see that he has a huge drinking problem, to him, this is normal.  He doesn't realize he's an alcoholic.  Maybe he will someday, but maybe he won't.
Some of the arguments I'm reading against poor people sound kinda similar to telling an alcoholic, "Well, stop being an alcoholic and your problems will go away!"  The problems and solutions seem rather obvious to us, but we're not trapped in the cycle of substance abuse or, in the article's case, poverty.  What seems normal to us might not even register as a choice to these people.  It's as useful to tell someone who's been stuck in generational poverty, "Don't be poor/don't make these stupid decisions," as it is to tell an alcoholic, "Don't be drunk."  They don't see these problems and issues the same way you and I do, any more than my alcoholic neighbor saw that he broke a "real" law and that that makes him "a fuckin' criminal" worthy of jail time.

I'm privileged to be white, to have grown up in a middle-class family with two parents who are still married.  I'm not going to judge other people harshly because they didn't win the familial lottery like I did.

As for the nail thing?  We have a student who works in my office part-time.  Her nails are flippin' awesome.  The kind of thing you'd have to be crazy to pay for and then pay for upkeep for.  A student salary could never keep up with it.  She doesn't pay for it.  She's taught herself and even keeps a blog about her nail art.  As far as hobbies go, it's pretty cheap and if she advertizes on her blog (I don't know about that) then she might even make a few bucks.  So, do you really know that these women you're judging are all getting manis/pedis?  Or are they doing some of this themselves in the time that you or I would spend reading articles about poverty and arguing on the internet about whether it's systemic or the result of personal action?

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2014, 08:05:54 PM »
Call it systemic failure, call it poverty culture, call it what you want.  I have just witnessed it so much in my young life that I know better than to expect any of it to change.  And I surely don't believe one county's fine-based government system has anything to do with it.

Unfortunately, our social, political, benefit and tax systems encourage people who are in poverty to stay in poverty. A significant portion of this is high effective marginal tax rates for people who are just above the poverty line.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12533

Below $25,000 in income, it often does not make economic sense to earn an extra $5,000. In fact, a couple earning $25,000 has to jump above $50,000 for their extra income to override the disincentives built into our system.

Few couples earning $25k have the skills to jump directly to $50k. Since it never makes economic sense to earn an extra $5k, they don't move up stepwise and remain in poverty instead.

This addresses one of the general causes of extended poverty, not the issue of people with open warrants as in the article. Except for cases of non-notification due to address change, I can't justify repeatedly not showing up for court.

Sort of off topic but I recall learning about this theory in my economics and industrial relations subjects at Uni.  I can't remember what it's called so I googled it and the Laffer Curve theory explains it quite well.  It's a generalisation of course, as not everyone will follow the herd, especially those of us who will do whatever it takes to get ahead, but it certainly does explain why some people do stay in lower paying jobs.  I distinctly remember a discussion about the value of working overtime and how once people earn what they consider to be "enough" they generally will prefer to reduce their hours of work instead of working more.

"Neoclassical economists argue that people will make such sacrifices up to a break-even point—where the pain of the additional hour of work done, or the additional dollar saved, is equal to the reward—but no further. Supply-siders reasoned that high marginal taxes cut back on the rewards for making these sacrifices, so much that they were not worth making anymore. Cut those taxes, they argued, and people will work and save (and invest) more."  http://dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0611reuss.html.

Back on topic - I find the idea that any government system that took advantage of disadvantaged people for financial gain to be absolutely revolting.  That money should at least be funneled back into those communities to increase their standard of living.

usmarine1975

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2014, 08:47:13 PM »
Understanding poverty by Ruby Payne is a great book if your interested in delving further into the topic of poverty. 

We moved to a section in our City that has more poverty and blight. Not the worst section but as a white family we are a minority.

My neighbor hasn't paid his taxes yet, and he explained that he waits until the slumlords come driving around looking for cheap properties to buy up.  Knowing he is going to pay his taxes and they are getting excited about buying his property amuses him.

I was also asked by my little brother with the Big Brother Big Sister program if we got our tax notice attached to our door.  I told him no that our taxes are paid on time and only those who don't pay them on time get the notice.  He has a council member as a neighbor and she has been in the paper for owing back taxes. 

Poverty is hard to understand. I am currently reading Why don't they just get a job.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 06:42:16 AM by usmarine1975 »

rocksinmyhead

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2014, 06:36:34 AM »
SisterX, I love everything about your post.

usmarine, those sound like a couple of interesting books. based on the Amazon description I actually think I might have read Understanding Poverty back when I was an education major.

SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2014, 02:29:56 PM »
SisterX, I love everything about your post.

Thanks!  I just can't seem to wrap my head around the level of xenophobia that it's, apparently, perfectly acceptable to feel for poor people on these forums.  Whatever happened to empathy and compassion?  Or are those traits that only the weak and not better-than-everyone-else mustachians (i.e. rich people, or wannabe rich people) can afford to feel?

gimp

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2014, 04:33:02 PM »
I grew up poor. And I mean, I remember the kind of 'poor' that makes american poor look like millionaires. I find it hard to sympathize with people who despise education and aren't interested in hard, honest work. I hate communities who work hard to bring down anyone that tries to leave. I see people come into the country with nothing but the clothes on their back, work ungodly hours and shit conditions so they can watch their kids go to college, while American poor blame 'the man' (in various incarnations) for their inability to escape their hole over generations.

While it is true that I believe every adult is responsible for the decisions they make every day, I also understand that someone growing up like this has hardly any chance to make the right decisions - because they don't know what the right decisions are; because their priorities have been changed by their upbringing in a way they will hardly escape. Any discussion of the self-destructive habits of the poor without offering a solution is masturbation.

I think that we need to start the changes, as a society, in pretty much the only place we can - school. Wherever the worst schools are: fuck the standardized tests. That can wait until the next generation. There is little point in trying to teach shakespeare to people who don't know how to read, or algebra to those who can't add. Make mandatory enrollment in school as early as pre-school, and keep kids there as long as possible, at the very least long enough for three square meals and study time and play time. Make available a place to sleep, or live, to any that want to or have no choice or if their parents want to not deal with them anymore; and I don't mean shelter-style rows of beds but a safe place to be alone. Teach how to run a household, how to pay taxes, how to get employed and stay employed; teach trades and pay for public education for anyone who wants to go to college. The amount of money this will cost will likely be dwarfed by the return on investment. If it costs me more tax money, I'll pay it without complaint.

SwordGuy

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2014, 07:07:14 PM »
Right on, gimp!

rocksinmyhead

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2014, 07:36:20 AM »
I like your thinking, gimp.

SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2014, 11:28:34 AM »
I think that we need to start the changes, as a society, in pretty much the only place we can - school. Wherever the worst schools are: fuck the standardized tests. That can wait until the next generation. There is little point in trying to teach shakespeare to people who don't know how to read, or algebra to those who can't add. Make mandatory enrollment in school as early as pre-school, and keep kids there as long as possible, at the very least long enough for three square meals and study time and play time. Make available a place to sleep, or live, to any that want to or have no choice or if their parents want to not deal with them anymore; and I don't mean shelter-style rows of beds but a safe place to be alone. Teach how to run a household, how to pay taxes, how to get employed and stay employed; teach trades and pay for public education for anyone who wants to go to college. The amount of money this will cost will likely be dwarfed by the return on investment. If it costs me more tax money, I'll pay it without complaint.

So...state-run orphanage-style institutions is the answer?  Don't get me wrong, I think your idea has merit, as an idea.  In practice, I think it wouldn't have the huge benefits you're foreseeing and would probably create many, many other problems.
Study after study has shown that it's not the school that matters the most, it's the parents and their investment in the children and their educations.  I think that first of all we need to start with mandatory parenting classes (for all parents, not just poor ones, since I've seen plenty of shitty rich parents who are allowed to get away with it simply because they're rich--and as a parent myself I would find it onerous, but I would go).  Add to that free contraception/free sterilization procedures and mandatory (not the "you can opt-out if you want to") sex education which goes into detail about properly using said contraception and we've got a much better start. 
Once we've fixed those problems, then we can start worrying more about giving the kids who are born a proper education and more choices in said education.

gimp

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2014, 02:43:21 PM »
Honestly, I don't see the point of trying to re-educate the parents who absolutely don't give a shit about education or making their way up and improving their lives. The system failed them, their community failed them, and now they fail themselves. It's nearly impossible to re-educate someone who is 20, 25, 30, and just doesn't give a shit. If kids don't get the chance to be exposed to that level of stupidity, vitriol, and distrust, you won't have to re-educate later. Why are kids skipping school, getting into trouble - the real kind, with real consequences, that comes from crime, yelling and swearing at teachers when they do show up? It's because of their environment outside of school. Reduce or remove the influence and you'll have malleable kids; potentially a dangerous situation but I can hardly see how it can get worse. Besides that, kids need a stable environment so they're not constantly in survival mode, and for fucks sake, they need proper clothes and especially food. School lunches aren't the best thing in the world but you can live off them and they can be improved. Growing minds absolutely can't do with one or two meals a day, and hunger in the summer.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2014, 02:45:09 PM by gimp »

usmarine1975

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2014, 03:00:54 PM »
A small step that I have tried is to volunteer with the Big Brother Big Sister Program.  I can't say as of yet that we have been totally successful or made a huge impact.  But I know one inner city teen that is getting to see the other side of things.  I also try to encourage others I know to consider doing the same.  I think I have learned more from it than I ever imagined.

SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2014, 02:21:27 PM »
Honestly, I don't see the point of trying to re-educate the parents who absolutely don't give a shit about education or making their way up and improving their lives. The system failed them, their community failed them, and now they fail themselves. It's nearly impossible to re-educate someone who is 20, 25, 30, and just doesn't give a shit. If kids don't get the chance to be exposed to that level of stupidity, vitriol, and distrust, you won't have to re-educate later. Why are kids skipping school, getting into trouble - the real kind, with real consequences, that comes from crime, yelling and swearing at teachers when they do show up? It's because of their environment outside of school. Reduce or remove the influence and you'll have malleable kids; potentially a dangerous situation but I can hardly see how it can get worse. Besides that, kids need a stable environment so they're not constantly in survival mode, and for fucks sake, they need proper clothes and especially food. School lunches aren't the best thing in the world but you can live off them and they can be improved. Growing minds absolutely can't do with one or two meals a day, and hunger in the summer.

I see.  So we should only try to help the deserving poor.  Kids are good because they're clean slates and we can bend them to society's standards.
I agree that all children need access to good food.  I think you and I would probably disagree on how to get it, though.

gimp

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2014, 11:31:37 AM »
Quote
Kids are good because they're clean slates and we can bend them to society's standards.

To put it bluntly, that's precisely correct.

Quote
So we should only try to help the deserving poor.

Depending on how you define deserving, that's exactly what we do. Try to help everyone, focus most of the effort on those who can be helped, who help themselves.

hybrid

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #33 on: September 16, 2014, 09:38:32 AM »
I spent a few years teaching a class that contained many students who depended on state welfare systems.

One thing that surprised me was the very common belief that people who "have money" are probably greedy, corrupt, or lottery winners. When I asked my students if they wanted to be wealthy someday, over 50% said no - that wealthy people are greedy workaholics who care too much about material things and too little about human beings.

I believe there are cultural forces that encourage some people to stay poor.

The idea that you could care about money *and* be a good person was something not everyone could wrap their head around.

My mother was a social worker, just as socially liberal as they come, but after a lifetime of working with the poor her attitudes had changed quite a bit over the years. It wasn't that she was unsympathetic to the truly needy, she stayed true to the cause until the day she retired. It was the number of people she encountered on the way who weren't truly needy and were clearly milking the system and/or looking for help from without rather than within that jaded her to a degree.

The social safety net should be a two-way street, and what I think irks folks is that a lot of forces are in play, often cultural, that keep people in poverty for generations. Where I see racism today often stems from socioeconomic and cultural issues and not actual race itself. I could be more blunt, but if you live in the South you know exactly what I am talking about. Richmond city schools, for example, are a complete disaster. In no small part because entirely too many students come to school ill-prepared to learn and from families that do not see education as a path out of poverty. RCS has plenty of money, but it is hard to spin gold from straw. Teachers there face an uphill battle every single day, and entirely too many kids will just drop out. I feel for the kids. I don't feel for many of the parents. 

johnhenry

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2014, 08:22:36 AM »
I feel for the kids. I don't feel for many of the parents.

Where your sympathy is concerned, is there an age limit for the kids?  Or does the sympathy get cut off as soon as they become parents?  All of those parents were once kids, you know.  Many kids have parents who are still kids or just recently became adults.  How's the sympathy distributed in those cases?

Not picking on hybrid, I've been guilty of trying to draw a sharp line where there isn't one.  Seeing the world in those black and white terms may help us sleep at night, but I don't think it will help improve poverty.

paddedhat

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2014, 06:15:03 PM »
I want to feel for people like the first lady in the article.  I want to empathize with her plight.  But, at the same time, she did skip court three times.  And I have this burning cynicism in me that just knows she owns at least two of the following: iPhone, Coach purse, iPad, car less than five years old and uses at least two of the following services on a regular basis: mani/pedi, hair salon, massage.
I was an attorney for Children's Protective Services and unfortunately this is so true.  I would constantly see mothers come to court who weren't providing clothes for their kids or who couldn't get a ride to visit them in foster care, yet they had a smart phone (which I didn't have!) or elaborate manicures (which I didn't have!).  Eventually it became a normal thing to me that they'd have on their acrylic nails but not have a ride to see their children, despite receiving two weekly bus tokens from the agency. If it were me I'd pay for a cab and make sure I was doing the right thing. It scared me when I was no longer surprised by the things I saw.  I remember a group of teachers who banded together to buy a refrigerator for a single mom whose child was in their classes. The mom sold the new fridge for cash to buy a television.

This kind of stuff makes me want to scream.  Also the moms who literally had eight children in foster care and came to court visibly pregnant. I was 30 and a professional woman and didn't have children yet because I felt I couldn't properly afford a child. My husband and I will likely have just our son, maybe a second child at the most, for financial reasons. I can't just can't feel too sorry for the first woman in the article with four children.

Sadly, My wife just finished a career as a special education teacher/administrator in an urban district in the northeast, and can back everything you claim, and more.  Several times she had to battle inner city parents who were trying very hard to label their normal children as special needs. When she dug deep for the motives behind this bizarre behavior, she found out two things. First, the parents were unusually savvy in the bureaucratic details of their efforts, as a result of being coached by "child advocates" (think prison lawyer). Second, the motivation for wanting to needlessly label, and handicap their child's future, was based on attempting to bump their income by filing for Social security disability payments on their soon to be labeled "disabled" child.

She also taught children who dressed in the same filthy clothes every day, and were dropped off at school in a late model, five series BMW, or in another case a new Lincoln Navigator. Children with $135 sneakers, who were fed two government funded meals a day. Children in fifth grade with the latest I-phone and  dressed like prostitutes with spike heals and fishnets, by a mom who only show up at school when she is delivered in a police car after the truant officer picks her up.  Yea, some folks have slightly different values and probably don't spend a lot of time lurking here at MMM.................................................

viper155

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #36 on: September 24, 2014, 08:54:14 PM »
People are their own worst enemies. Not "the system."

SwordGuy

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #37 on: September 24, 2014, 09:30:29 PM »
I'm all for taking the kids away from incompetent or uncaring parents, fining said parents for being a pain in the ass to society, and then putting the children up for adoption to people who can afford to take care of them and want to.   Said adoption process would be simple, reasonably quick, and free of both cost and needless red tape.  (The current process is exactly opposite of that.) 

SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2014, 03:36:31 PM »
http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2014/06/13/on-the-variability-of-parenting-ability/

The above link might be an interesting read for some of you.  In fact, many of her most recent blog posts might be interesting.  She's a foster mother and so sees much of the worst of parenting.  And you know what?  She still manages to have compassion for the parents whose children have been taken away and given to her.
Some people see the worst of humanity and think, "Fuck those people, they made their own problems.  I don't have to feel sorry for them."  Others see the worst of humanity and think, "How sad.  I wish I could help them and see how they're making things harder for themselves."
My mother was a social worker, just as socially liberal as they come, but after a lifetime of working with the poor her attitudes had changed quite a bit over the years. It wasn't that she was unsympathetic to the truly needy, she stayed true to the cause until the day she retired. It was the number of people she encountered on the way who weren't truly needy and were clearly milking the system and/or looking for help from without rather than within that jaded her to a degree.
Apparently, your mother was the first type.  However, I know plenty of people who are in jobs which require compassion--two social worker family members, a SIL who works at a hospital for the criminally insane (seriously), and more teachers than I can count--and you know what?  It hasn't jaded them.  If anything, most of them have more compassion for the people and children they work with. 
My best friend had a student who was causing all kinds of problems--bullying, cheating on tests, skipping class, etc.  She met the parents, figured out rather quickly that the dad is almost certainly emotionally abusive.  Perhaps even physically abusive, at least to his wife.  There was nothing she could actually report, just a gut feeling and the way the parents acted combined with the way the child acted.  But she was able to handle that student's problems with more empathy for the rest of the school year.  She said the whole situation made her a better teacher and a better person overall.
So go ahead and use your anecdotes of "x person saw trashy people all the time and it sickened them", but people who really have compassion and empathy won't lose it the moment it's tested.  And really, when someone is down and out, that is when they're the most deserving of our sympathy.  The people that paddlehat cited, who are trying to game the system?  How sad their lives must be.  How truly sad it is that that is what they view as their only choice in life, the only way to get ahead.  How sad that they even needed "prison lawyers".
Finally, everyone knocks low income people for having smart phones.  Often, that's the only way they can keep in touch with their networks of friends and family.  The expensive shoes, perhaps a family member works in a shoe store and they get a discount?  You're entirely judging them from external facts without knowing the reasons behind why they've made the choices they've made.  Are you really so certain that you're the only ones who can make logical decisions?  Are you honestly trying to say that these people are all stupid to the point that logic utterly escapes them?  What might seem illogical to you seems perfectly reasonable to them because they are the only ones who know all of the factors went into the decisions they've made.  Mustachians are smart people, perhaps smarter than the average bear, but we're not the only ones who analyze our own choices.  People in poverty, it turns out, can do the same thing.  Just because they're not choices you or I would have made doesn't make them inherently wrong.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 03:40:44 PM by SisterX »

paddedhat

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #39 on: September 25, 2014, 04:56:17 PM »
http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2014/06/13/on-the-variability-of-parenting-ability/

The above link might be an interesting read for some of you.  In fact, many of her most recent blog posts might be interesting.  She's a foster mother and so sees much of the worst of parenting.  And you know what?  She still manages to have compassion for the parents whose children have been taken away and given to her.
Some people see the worst of humanity and think, "Fuck those people, they made their own problems.  I don't have to feel sorry for them."  Others see the worst of humanity and think, "How sad.  I wish I could help them and see how they're making things harder for themselves."
My mother was a social worker, just as socially liberal as they come, but after a lifetime of working with the poor her attitudes had changed quite a bit over the years. It wasn't that she was unsympathetic to the truly needy, she stayed true to the cause until the day she retired. It was the number of people she encountered on the way who weren't truly needy and were clearly milking the system and/or looking for help from without rather than within that jaded her to a degree.
Apparently, your mother was the first type.  However, I know plenty of people who are in jobs which require compassion--two social worker family members, a SIL who works at a hospital for the criminally insane (seriously), and more teachers than I can count--and you know what?  It hasn't jaded them.  If anything, most of them have more compassion for the people and children they work with. 
My best friend had a student who was causing all kinds of problems--bullying, cheating on tests, skipping class, etc.  She met the parents, figured out rather quickly that the dad is almost certainly emotionally abusive.  Perhaps even physically abusive, at least to his wife.  There was nothing she could actually report, just a gut feeling and the way the parents acted combined with the way the child acted.  But she was able to handle that student's problems with more empathy for the rest of the school year.  She said the whole situation made her a better teacher and a better person overall.
So go ahead and use your anecdotes of "x person saw trashy people all the time and it sickened them", but people who really have compassion and empathy won't lose it the moment it's tested.  And really, when someone is down and out, that is when they're the most deserving of our sympathy.  The people that paddlehat cited, who are trying to game the system?  How sad their lives must be.  How truly sad it is that that is what they view as their only choice in life, the only way to get ahead.  How sad that they even needed "prison lawyers".
Finally, everyone knocks low income people for having smart phones.  Often, that's the only way they can keep in touch with their networks of friends and family.  The expensive shoes, perhaps a family member works in a shoe store and they get a discount?  You're entirely judging them from external facts without knowing the reasons behind why they've made the choices they've made.  Are you really so certain that you're the only ones who can make logical decisions?  Are you honestly trying to say that these people are all stupid to the point that logic utterly escapes them?  What might seem illogical to you seems perfectly reasonable to them because they are the only ones who know all of the factors went into the decisions they've made.  Mustachians are smart people, perhaps smarter than the average bear, but we're not the only ones who analyze our own choices.  People in poverty, it turns out, can do the same thing.  Just because they're not choices you or I would have made doesn't make them inherently wrong.

Sorry, but you send a mix message as you attempt to provide rational and compassionate counterpoints to other's responses, but OTOH tend to really dive into the deep end of the "excuses and rationalizations" pool.

Fact is, NOBODY needs a new, top of the line smart phone to communicate, my $9 dumb phone handles the task with ease. It's a status symbol provided to a child, for no legitimate reason, by a parent with little income to support such a device, and very poor parenting skills. A fourth or fifth grade kid has the latest phone for the same reason that the kid sitting next to her has the fishnets, miniskirt and heels, because they are a product of a parent who is unfit for the task. Your BS about questioning the compassion of those in the trenches is exactly that. My wife did battle with the parents that dropped their kids off at distant relatives and returned to the city, 100 miles distant, only to return some weekends. She did battle with the ones that refused to step up and assume the role of parent. She spent thousands out of her own pocket in supplies and even clothing for kids that needed it. OTOH, she didn't fall for the string of lies and bullshit that is the currency that many low income parents trade in.

To put it all in perspective, in a thirty year career as a special ed. teacher she sent annual notices, and called every parent to let them know that she would be attending two evening open houses and is more than happy to meet with them to discuss their child's situation in a private setting.  Thirty years, thousands of students and exactly TWO families took her up on the offer. Now she had hundreds of meeting with parents over the years. 99.999% were scheduled by her, after she made it clear that attendance was mandatory, and if the parent failed to attend, important decisions could and would be made on their behalf, including sending the case to the local court system, if they refuse to cooperate.

Poverty is not a reason to fuck up your children's future because you are too lazy to do the right thing. Quality education is free, extremely comprehensive and successful in this country. Being a total fucking waste of good air, AKA "baby's momma"  is not something created by a lack of income.


SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2014, 12:09:43 PM »
Sorry, but you send a mix message as you attempt to provide rational and compassionate counterpoints to other's responses, but OTOH tend to really dive into the deep end of the "excuses and rationalizations" pool.

Fact is, NOBODY needs a new, top of the line smart phone to communicate, my $9 dumb phone handles the task with ease. It's a status symbol provided to a child, for no legitimate reason, by a parent with little income to support such a device, and very poor parenting skills. A fourth or fifth grade kid has the latest phone for the same reason that the kid sitting next to her has the fishnets, miniskirt and heels, because they are a product of a parent who is unfit for the task. Your BS about questioning the compassion of those in the trenches is exactly that. My wife did battle with the parents that dropped their kids off at distant relatives and returned to the city, 100 miles distant, only to return some weekends. She did battle with the ones that refused to step up and assume the role of parent. She spent thousands out of her own pocket in supplies and even clothing for kids that needed it. OTOH, she didn't fall for the string of lies and bullshit that is the currency that many low income parents trade in.

To put it all in perspective, in a thirty year career as a special ed. teacher she sent annual notices, and called every parent to let them know that she would be attending two evening open houses and is more than happy to meet with them to discuss their child's situation in a private setting.  Thirty years, thousands of students and exactly TWO families took her up on the offer. Now she had hundreds of meeting with parents over the years. 99.999% were scheduled by her, after she made it clear that attendance was mandatory, and if the parent failed to attend, important decisions could and would be made on their behalf, including sending the case to the local court system, if they refuse to cooperate.

Poverty is not a reason to fuck up your children's future because you are too lazy to do the right thing. Quality education is free, extremely comprehensive and successful in this country. Being a total fucking waste of good air, AKA "baby's momma"  is not something created by a lack of income.

Ah.  You didn't actually read my link.  It's about the variability of parenting skills in all animals.  Why should humans be any different?  Especially since we don't usually provide resources for low-income parents to become better parents.  Even as a parent with lots of help, good examples, and a great education, parenting is really hard sometimes.  And I have the help and resources to make it easier!  We throw people to the wolves and when they fuck up we tell them they're horrible people.  Not everyone is a natural parent.  Even people who want to be parents aren't always the best at it, never mind the people who don't but didn't really have another choice because we don't let them have access to birth control and/or abortions.  (If someone brings up adoption as a viable alternative, just leave.  No woman should ever be forced to go through pregnancy and labor/delivery because that is her only other choice.  That's fucked up.  Yes, adoption is wonderful.  But so are preventative measures.)
I'm not saying that any of these parents should be winning awards for their parenting.  If anything, they're helping to perpetuate the crappy system that they're stuck in.  But, it's probably the only example they know, the only way they know how to do things.  And society punishes them for parenting the only way they know how.  That's really shitty, to look down on others rather than helping them when they clearly need it.  I'm sure it's very comforting for those of you who think, "I'm better than those people."  But it's a really horrible way to live your life, and it's not a way to solve the problems you see.

Abe

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2014, 05:03:32 AM »
I wonder if we should have parenting classes in high school or community college. Though the rate of teen pregnancy is down substantially in the US, most women have kids in their 20s. If a parent isn't taking care of their kids properly, having them go to a parenting class may help both the kid and the parent. I'd of course have no idea how to make such a class, not being a parent.

iris lily

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2014, 08:20:38 PM »
Understanding poverty by Ruby Payne is a great book if your interested in delving further into the topic of poverty. 

We moved to a section in our City that has more poverty and blight. Not the worst section but as a white family we are a minority.

My neighbor hasn't paid his taxes yet, and he explained that he waits until the slumlords come driving around looking for cheap properties to buy up.  Knowing he is going to pay his taxes and they are getting excited about buying his property amuses him.

I was also asked by my little brother with the Big Brother Big Sister program if we got our tax notice attached to our door.  I told him no that our taxes are paid on time and only those who don't pay them on time get the notice.  He has a council member as a neighbor and she has been in the paper for owing back taxes. 

Poverty is hard to understand. I am currently reading Why don't they just get a job.

Ruby' Payne has a 2nd book out, published a few years ago. Can't remember the name of it but it's in the same vein as the first one.

iris lily

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #43 on: October 04, 2014, 08:22:46 PM »
... The amount of money this will cost will likely be dwarfed by the return on investment. If it costs me more tax money, I'll pay it without complaint.

If only. If only money would solve it.

galliver

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Sid Hoffman

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #45 on: October 14, 2014, 10:50:41 AM »
My ex-wife's family was largely lower income and her aunt/uncle were probably what you could say qualifies for just above poverty.  We used to send them money and gifts to help them out, but once they moved to the same metro area as us (they were formerly living in a small town in the south) it was clear what was going on.  Money was being spent on cigarettes, they would drive far away for things that weren't really important, one of their kids who had graduated from high school years ago was living with them mooching off them for food and cigarettes, etc.

From time to time the oldest kid would get jobs, then spend all the money on himself and complain that he can't help his parents because he doesn't have any money.  Then we'd see him with a new TV.  Then a new XBOX and he'd have a bunch of new games.  Then it was a brand new (at the time) Galaxy S3.  At one point they were so behind on their bills that they had their electricity shut off.  We resisted the urge to send them money and sure enough, somehow they had their power on a few days later when no one would give them money.

The real kicker was that recently they started talking about moving back to the south to be closer to one of their kids who had a baby.  Of course, there's still no jobs there because it's a podunk down in the south.  So what did they do to prepare for an expensive move from the southwest to the south?  They purchased a new V8 Mustang convertible.  Well new to them, at least.  It's a 2002 model that I found out from one of the kids was $12,500.  Keep in mind this is car with a blue book of $5300 and I know I've seen them on Craigslist down in the $4000 range.

This is my perspective on poverty.  It's not just that one group either, I've witnessed decisions made by at least 5 different groups close to me, either family or extremely close friends who are habitually poor.  In many cases they are making upwards of $30k/year.  I know that I personally live pretty comfortably on spending about $24k/year, yet somehow I have no money problems and they are incredibly broke.  I know there's cases where bad things happen, like debt assignment after a divorce, expensive medical bills after an accident, and stuff like that.  However generally the people I've known who fell on hard times due to something like that were fine again a couple years later.  The continually broke ones seem to make a habit of doing stuff like eating out a ton, cigarettes, alcohol, new TVs, fantastically overpriced gas guzzler cars, and so on.

It's death of a thousands cuts, where a few bad decisions every single day, especially when fast food, cigarettes, and gotta-have-it gadgets or cars are involved add up to no money left.  I think one of the biggest problems is the very fact that poverty culture looks to blame someone else for poverty.  If you were told that you're poor and it's somebody else's fault, would you do anything to fix it?  Well maybe YOU would, but those in poverty are being told NOT to change anything they do because they are told that they aren't doing anything wrong, it's somebody else's fault they are in poverty.  Honestly, if everybody you know and all the media you consume tells you that somebody else is the reason you're in poverty, why would you try to do anything differently on your own?  They believe the big lie being told to them by predatory lenders and services that get rich off poverty-stricken people.

galliver

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2014, 12:27:04 PM »
My ex-wife's family was largely lower income and her aunt/uncle were probably what you could say qualifies for just above poverty.  We used to send them money and gifts to help them out, but once they moved to the same metro area as us (they were formerly living in a small town in the south) it was clear what was going on.  Money was being spent on cigarettes, they would drive far away for things that weren't really important, one of their kids who had graduated from high school years ago was living with them mooching off them for food and cigarettes, etc.

From time to time the oldest kid would get jobs, then spend all the money on himself and complain that he can't help his parents because he doesn't have any money.  Then we'd see him with a new TV.  Then a new XBOX and he'd have a bunch of new games.  Then it was a brand new (at the time) Galaxy S3.  At one point they were so behind on their bills that they had their electricity shut off.  We resisted the urge to send them money and sure enough, somehow they had their power on a few days later when no one would give them money.

The real kicker was that recently they started talking about moving back to the south to be closer to one of their kids who had a baby.  Of course, there's still no jobs there because it's a podunk down in the south.  So what did they do to prepare for an expensive move from the southwest to the south?  They purchased a new V8 Mustang convertible.  Well new to them, at least.  It's a 2002 model that I found out from one of the kids was $12,500.  Keep in mind this is car with a blue book of $5300 and I know I've seen them on Craigslist down in the $4000 range.

This is my perspective on poverty.  It's not just that one group either, I've witnessed decisions made by at least 5 different groups close to me, either family or extremely close friends who are habitually poor.  In many cases they are making upwards of $30k/year.  I know that I personally live pretty comfortably on spending about $24k/year, yet somehow I have no money problems and they are incredibly broke.  I know there's cases where bad things happen, like debt assignment after a divorce, expensive medical bills after an accident, and stuff like that.  However generally the people I've known who fell on hard times due to something like that were fine again a couple years later.  The continually broke ones seem to make a habit of doing stuff like eating out a ton, cigarettes, alcohol, new TVs, fantastically overpriced gas guzzler cars, and so on.

It's death of a thousands cuts, where a few bad decisions every single day, especially when fast food, cigarettes, and gotta-have-it gadgets or cars are involved add up to no money left.  I think one of the biggest problems is the very fact that poverty culture looks to blame someone else for poverty.  If you were told that you're poor and it's somebody else's fault, would you do anything to fix it?  Well maybe YOU would, but those in poverty are being told NOT to change anything they do because they are told that they aren't doing anything wrong, it's somebody else's fault they are in poverty.  Honestly, if everybody you know and all the media you consume tells you that somebody else is the reason you're in poverty, why would you try to do anything differently on your own?  They believe the big lie being told to them by predatory lenders and services that get rich off poverty-stricken people.

Thanks for the anecdata. I hope you realize you are basing your entire opinion off of one sample point?

iris lily

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #47 on: October 14, 2014, 10:53:10 PM »
...  In many cases they are making upwards of $30k/year.  I know that I personally live pretty comfortably on spending about $24k/year, yet somehow I have no money problems and they are incredibly broke. ...

That reminds me of the small house we bought a few years ago, in a bad area on the edge of an ok neighborhood. I call it the neighborhood of pimps 'n wh*res, (oh I am SO BAD! Slap me!) there really ARE hookers a block away who bring johns into the boarded up empty house across the street. But anyway, I digress.

So the family renting this small 4 room house had it packed with people, several generations. After they moved out we got an industrial dumpster and gutted the house. Hundreds and hundreds of cockroaches everywhere. They had thrown liquor bottles, beer cans, and dirty diapers in the yards for months.

Anyway, my point is: the dad of the family left one of his pay checks behind and in cleaning up we saw it. He was making more money than DH. He was making in the $30,000's. He could have purchased this property which went for $42,000. But instead they lived in filth, a constant parade of people in and out, sleeping everywhere, drinking and drugging. I imagine that the old man is a functional alcoholic and his leech offspring seldom worked. Unfortunately, they've turned up now living further up the block and there appears to be yet another generation living there.

We use this house as a big garden spot, it has land surrounding it. We also store crap there, but nothing critical because it's always at risk of being burglarized. Fortunately, the pimps 'n wh*res have no interest in iris and lily plants, they leave my garden alone but for occasional children playing there.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 10:56:04 PM by iris lily »

johnhenry

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #48 on: October 15, 2014, 09:23:57 AM »
...  In many cases they are making upwards of $30k/year.  I know that I personally live pretty comfortably on spending about $24k/year, yet somehow I have no money problems and they are incredibly broke. ...

That reminds me of the small house we bought a few years ago, in a bad area on the edge of an ok neighborhood. I call it the neighborhood of pimps 'n wh*res, (oh I am SO BAD! Slap me!) there really ARE hookers a block away who bring johns into the boarded up empty house across the street. But anyway, I digress.

So the family renting this small 4 room house had it packed with people, several generations. After they moved out we got an industrial dumpster and gutted the house. Hundreds and hundreds of cockroaches everywhere. They had thrown liquor bottles, beer cans, and dirty diapers in the yards for months.

Anyway, my point is: the dad of the family left one of his pay checks behind and in cleaning up we saw it. He was making more money than DH. He was making in the $30,000's. He could have purchased this property which went for $42,000. But instead they lived in filth, a constant parade of people in and out, sleeping everywhere, drinking and drugging. I imagine that the old man is a functional alcoholic and his leech offspring seldom worked. Unfortunately, they've turned up now living further up the block and there appears to be yet another generation living there.

We use this house as a big garden spot, it has land surrounding it. We also store crap there, but nothing critical because it's always at risk of being burglarized. Fortunately, the pimps 'n wh*res have no interest in iris and lily plants, they leave my garden alone but for occasional children playing there.




That's a nice story, but it needs to be filed in the "human behavior" section, not the "poverty" section.

Quote
But instead they lived in filth, a constant parade of people in and out, sleeping everywhere, drinking and drugging.

Reminds me of many scenes in "The Wolf of Wall Street" which tells the story of multimillionaire stock broker Jordan Belfort. He funded escapades that would make the hooker den you describe look like Mister Roger's Neighborhood.

I've seen doctors making 6 figures declare bankruptcy because they needed a $2M home and an airplane.

I've seen many rich frat boys blow through more of their parents money in just their college years than the entire family you describe will make in their lifetimes!! And I've seen those same boys go on to not only hold down "jobs", but have successful "careers" as financial advisers, etc. despite also being functional addicts.

Point is, the human behavior you describe isn't exclusive to those living in poverty.  If you want to see wasting of human potential and poor financial decisions, you can witness it across all classes of society.

And no, I don't buy the argument that, among the wasters of potential, those who can manage to remain financially solvent "on their own" have any higher standing than those who get by "with government help". I don't buy into the myth that the frat boy turned financial adviser at his uncle's firm is less of a drain on society than the man in your example just because he's making enough to pay his taxes while the other gets a subsidy.

I respect humans like you, who spend their time creating gardens, or promoting peace and understanding more than I respect humans who waste that potential.  But I don't hold any special disdain for those who happen to be poor. The rich just play with more expensive poison.




SisterX

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Re: One more perspective on poverty
« Reply #49 on: October 15, 2014, 10:03:50 AM »
...  In many cases they are making upwards of $30k/year.  I know that I personally live pretty comfortably on spending about $24k/year, yet somehow I have no money problems and they are incredibly broke. ...

That reminds me of the small house we bought a few years ago, in a bad area on the edge of an ok neighborhood. I call it the neighborhood of pimps 'n wh*res, (oh I am SO BAD! Slap me!) there really ARE hookers a block away who bring johns into the boarded up empty house across the street. But anyway, I digress.

So the family renting this small 4 room house had it packed with people, several generations. After they moved out we got an industrial dumpster and gutted the house. Hundreds and hundreds of cockroaches everywhere. They had thrown liquor bottles, beer cans, and dirty diapers in the yards for months.

Anyway, my point is: the dad of the family left one of his pay checks behind and in cleaning up we saw it. He was making more money than DH. He was making in the $30,000's. He could have purchased this property which went for $42,000. But instead they lived in filth, a constant parade of people in and out, sleeping everywhere, drinking and drugging. I imagine that the old man is a functional alcoholic and his leech offspring seldom worked. Unfortunately, they've turned up now living further up the block and there appears to be yet another generation living there.

We use this house as a big garden spot, it has land surrounding it. We also store crap there, but nothing critical because it's always at risk of being burglarized. Fortunately, the pimps 'n wh*res have no interest in iris and lily plants, they leave my garden alone but for occasional children playing there.




That's a nice story, but it needs to be filed in the "human behavior" section, not the "poverty" section.

Quote
But instead they lived in filth, a constant parade of people in and out, sleeping everywhere, drinking and drugging.

Reminds me of many scenes in "The Wolf of Wall Street" which tells the story of multimillionaire stock broker Jordan Belfort. He funded escapades that would make the hooker den you describe look like Mister Roger's Neighborhood.

I've seen doctors making 6 figures declare bankruptcy because they needed a $2M home and an airplane.

I've seen many rich frat boys blow through more of their parents money in just their college years than the entire family you describe will make in their lifetimes!! And I've seen those same boys go on to not only hold down "jobs", but have successful "careers" as financial advisers, etc. despite also being functional addicts.

Point is, the human behavior you describe isn't exclusive to those living in poverty.  If you want to see wasting of human potential and poor financial decisions, you can witness it across all classes of society.

And no, I don't buy the argument that, among the wasters of potential, those who can manage to remain financially solvent "on their own" have any higher standing than those who get by "with government help". I don't buy into the myth that the frat boy turned financial adviser at his uncle's firm is less of a drain on society than the man in your example just because he's making enough to pay his taxes while the other gets a subsidy.

I respect humans like you, who spend their time creating gardens, or promoting peace and understanding more than I respect humans who waste that potential.  But I don't hold any special disdain for those who happen to be poor. The rich just play with more expensive poison.

+1.  You said that way better than I could have.
Why do we let the rich off so easily for being a waste of humanity and judge the poor so harshly for those same decisions?  They are no more or less obligated to the rest of humanity than the rest of us, and frequently they aren't given the same resources and role models the rest of us have been.  Can you imagine the kids who are growing up in that environment, how skewed their worldview will be simply because of how they grew up?  It takes a rather special kind of person to look around and see something different from how they were raised.
Iris Lily, that's fantastic that you're gardening there.  You might be the spark which makes someone else think, "Wow, I don't have to live in squalor.  My life doesn't have to be this way!"