Problems of the Poor

Ken at ChicagoBoyz has an interesting post about being poor in the U.S.

Being poor today is a lot different from being poor in the past. It wasn't all that long ago that being poor meant you went hungry on a regular basis and froze all winter. Thanks to the capitalist system, and a whole bunch of smart capitalists inspired and rewarded by that system, this is no longer the case.

But that doesn't mean that poverty has become a walk in the park. There are still problems associated with poverty, and these problems fall into two categories: problems that capitalism can't solve, and problems that capitalism is being actively prevented from solving. In both categories, changes in government policy are called for, but nothing like the usual changes recommended when someone talks about "doing something" about poverty (i.e., either handing over money, or forcing the evil plutocrats to hand over money)…

The one point he makes that I wish more people would get: poverty is a relative term. There will always be poor in this country, it's just a matter of what standard of living is considered poor.

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When I was in college, a friend of mine who was a social worker took me to the "ghetto" to meet some of the families she worked with so that I would "not be so insensitive." I think she thought I would turn into a bleeding heart after seeing their plight. But the truth was, I lived in an apartment with no air conditioning and no television. We visited people who lived in public housing but drove better cars than me, owned tvs, stereos and video game systems, had cable tv, and reasonably nice furniture. I left infuriated that the government was picking up the housing tab for these people so they could buy all this other stuff while I had a lower standard of living than these "poor people."