20 things the poor really do every day


[Note: This post has been updated to more clearly identify the sources for each claim made below. The original post included links to each source but did not call them out as clearly.]

Dave Ramsey probably wasn’t expecting this much pushback when he shared a piece by Tim Corley contrasting the habits of the rich with those of the poor. In her response on CNN, Rachel Held Evans noted that Ramsey and Corley mistake correlation for causality when they suggest (without actually proving) that these habits are the cause of a person’s financial situation. (Did it never occur to them that it might be the other way around?)

Ramsey fired back, calling the pushback “immature and ignorant.” This from a guy who just made 20 sweeping assertions about 47 million poor people in the US — all based on a survey of 361 individuals.

That’s right. To come up with his 20 habits, Corley talked to just 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. Ramsey can talk all he wants about Corley’s research passing the “common-sense smell test,” but it doesn’t pass the “research methodology 101” test.

To balance the picture a bit, I wanted to take a fact-based look at 20 things the poor do on a daily basis…

1. Search for affordable housing.
Especially in urban areas, the waiting list for affordable housing can be a year or more. During that time, poor families either have to make do with substandard or dangerous housing, depend on the hospitality of relatives, or go homeless.
(Source: New York Times)

2. Try to make $133 worth of food last a whole month.
That’s how much the average food stamp recipient gets each month. Imagine trying to eat well on $4.38 per day. It’s not easy, which is why many impoverished families resort to #3…
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

3. Subsist on poor quality food.
Not because they want to, but because they can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food. They’re trapped in a food system that subsidizes processed foods, making them artificially cheaper than natural food sources. So the poor are forced to eat bad food — if they’re lucky, that is…
(Sources: Washington Post; Journal of Nutrition, March 2008)

4. Skip a meal.
One in six Americans are food insecure. Which means (among other things) that they’re sometimes forced to go without eating.
(Sources: World Vision, US Department of Agriculture)

5. Work longer and harder than most of us.
While it’s popular to think people are poor because they’re lazy (which seems to be the whole point of Ramsey’s post), the poor actually work longer and harder than the rest of us. More than 80 percent of impoverished children have at least one parent who works; 60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time. Overall, the poor work longer hours than the so-called “job creators.”
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

6. Go to bed 3 hours before their first job starts.
Number 15 on Ramsey and Corley’s list was, “44% of [the] wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of [the] poor.” It may be true that most poor people don’t wake up three hours before work starts. But that could be because they’re more likely to work multiple jobs, in which case job #1 means they’re probably just getting to bed three hours before job #2 starts.
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

7. Try to avoid getting beat up by someone they love.
According to some estimates, half of all homeless women in America ran away to escape domestic violence.
(Source: National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009)

8. Put themselves in harm’s way, only to be kicked to the streets afterward.
How else do you explain 67,000 63,000 homeless veterans?
(Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs, updated to reflect the most recent data)

9. Pay more than their fair share of taxes.
Some conservative pundits and politicians like to think the poor don’t pay their fair share, that they are merely “takers.” While it’s true the poor don’t pay as much in federal income tax — usually because they don’t earn enough to qualify — they do pay sales tax, payroll tax, etc. In fact, the bottom 20% of earners pay TWICE as much in taxes (as a share of their income) as do the top 1%.
(Source: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, January 2013)

10. Fall further behind.
Even when poverty is the result of poor decision-making, often it’s someone else’s choices that make the difference. If you experience poverty as a child, you are 3-4 times less likely to graduate high school. If you spend your entire childhood in poverty, you are 5 times less likely to graduate. Which means your future has been all but decided for you.
(Sources: World Vision, Children’s Defense Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation)

11. Raise kids who will be poor.
A child’s future earnings are closely correlated to their parents’ earnings. In other words, economic mobility — the idea that you can claw your way out of poverty if you just try hard enough is, more often than not, a myth.
(Sources: OECD, Economic Policy Institute)

12. Vote less.
And who can blame them? I would be less inclined to vote if I didn’t have easy access to the polls and if I were subjected to draconian voter ID laws that are sold to the public as necessary to suppress nonexistent voter fraud.
(Source: The Center for Voting and Democracy)

13. When they do vote… vote pretty much the same as the rest of us.
Following their defeat in 2012, conservatives took solace by reasoning that they’d lost to a bunch of “takers,” including the poor, who voted for Democrats because they want free handouts from big government. The reality is a bit more complex. Only a third of low-income voters identify as Democrats, about the same for all Americans, including wealthy voters.
(Sources: NPR, Pew Research Center)

14. Live with chronic pain.
Those earning less than $12,000 a year are twice as likely to report feeling physical pain on any given day.
(Source: Kaiser Health News)

15. Live shorter lives.
There is a 10-14 year gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. In recent years, poor people’s life expectancy has actually declined — in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet.
(Source: Health Affairs, 2012)

16. Use drugs and alcohol pretty much the same as (or less than) everyone else.
Despite the common picture of inner city crack houses, drug use is pretty evenly spread across income groups. And rich people actually abuse alcohol more than the poor.
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

17. Receive less in subsidized benefits than corporations.
The US government spends around $60 billion on public housing and rental subsidies for low-income families, compared to more than $90 billion on corporate subsidies. Oil companies alone get around $70 billion. And that’s not counting the nearly $60 billion a year in tax breaks corporations enjoy by sheltering profits offshore. Or the $700 billion bailout banks got in 2008.
(Source: Think By Numbers)

18. Get themselves off welfare as soon as possible.
Despite the odds, the vast majority of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls within five years. Even in the absence of official welfare-to-work programming, most welfare recipients enroll in some form of vocational training. Why? Because they’re desperate to get off welfare.
(Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)

19. Have about the same number of children as everyone else.
No, poor people do not have loads of children just so they can stay on welfare.
(Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)

20. Accomplish one single goal: stay alive. 
Poverty in America may not be as dire as poverty in other parts of the world, but many working poor families are nonetheless preoccupied with day-to-day survival. For them, life is not something to be enjoyed so much as endured.

These are the real habits of the poor, those with whom Jesus identifies most closely.

[Note: For a followup to this post, see "Poverty is more than a matter of poor decision-making."]

777 thoughts on “20 things the poor really do every day

  1. Pingback: 20 things the poor do every day | MemePosts

  2. It’s rather ironic that you so pompously attempt to discredit Ramsay’s conclusions based on what you call a failure of the ““research methodology 101 test”, and then respond with 20 assertions of your own based on nothing more than a series of cherry-picked media articles and assertions by other individuals.

    I seem to recall that the Bible has something rather unfavorable to say about hypocrites.

      • There are so many holes in all 20, of those “assertions” I don’t have the time to point them out. However, owning a business that sees a 50% increase from the 1st to the 6th of each month I know first hand that a large portion of that so called food money is spent on tobacco and alcohol. Also in regard to 60% of the Poor have one parent working full time, does that mean 40% don’t work or only part time? My wife and I work full time! More hours then I care to add up. Please don’t take into account that these big evil corporations hire people, increase benifits, lower product cost….. When you get off your soap box take a moment to consider that this country was built by the Sam Waltons, Henry Fords, and Steve Jobs of the world. What makes this country great is everyone has the opportunity to do what these men did. (Please note not one of them was born into means). It was not built by those who feel they are entitled to anything. Charity is not charity when forced at gun point. It extortion.

      • Chis – You should read Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States.” You may stand a chance of learning who actually built this country. I’ll give you a clue – Sam Walton, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs did not pick up a hammer and nails and build their “empires” alone. For starters, they needed consumers – people who could afford to buy what they were selling. The “great man” myth of history is thrown out the moment you learn to think critically. Good luck.

      • Chris, you say “everyone has the opportunity” to do what Walton, Ford and Jobs did, but aside from being untrue on its face, even if it were true, all it would mean is that everyone has the opportunity to be one of the extremely few who get to stand atop the pile of bodies that represents our present society. “Yes, you, too, can be one of the THREE who gets to stand on the backs of everyone else and revel in riches while the masses beneath you toil, squirm, sweat, sicken early and die young.” You see, if everyone TRULY could do what those three did, then everyone would be standing on top and no one would be holding them up, and this CLEARLY cannot happen within the current system, as it is built exclusively to be exactly what it is : a modern feudalism, replete with lords (your three heroes) and serfs (common workers) and everyone in between.

      • Then you might feel inclined to share more than one source to make a point then. I don’t know about Research 101, but it my 500 level research class we were taught to have multiple sources to make a point or pass sentence.

        #2-4: I make about $47k being a teacher and my family of 3 is living on $110 a month for food. It’s doable. It takes work, yes, but if you’re looking to pinch some pennies, then it can be done.

        #5: If 60% of children don’t have a parent that has a full-time job, that means 40% have parents with only a part-time job or unemployed for various reasons. Saying that poor people aren’t lazy and then saying that 40% of them don’t put in their min. of 40 hours isn’t right at all. I’m also not seeing ANY data that says poor people are putting more hours than wealthy people. In today’s technology and communication age, many full-time workers are working at home or on the road (even while on vacation). I’m at my school 10-12 hours a day, go home, workout, eat, and THEN I break out more things to work on.

        The hours I put in are on the verge of 2 full time jobs and I know people who do more than I do! Where’s the data to back up #5?

        #7-8: What’s your point?

        #9: Brown data going on here. If I compared the gross amount that I pay in taxes, it’s higher than someone who makes less than me. Period. Both by % and by gross amount. Either way you look at it, I -whom is in the middle class- pay more than someone below the poverty level.

        #17: Are we comparing people to people or people to companies? The economics are different for the two groups. The law is also different for the two groups. I don’t get any subsidies. Poor people do. I am also paying for those subsidies indirectly.

        #18: Not in my neighborhood. My neighbors are doing nothing but making poor decision after poor decision and aren’t even looking for jobs or when they get one, get fired for behavior issues on the job. Your’re in your 30s and still getting disciplined like a child? Really? If one was sincerely trying to get out, I can’t imagine doing anything BUT acting in line with my employer’s rules.

        All of this is a mute point though because after today’s fast food worker’s strike, the kid at McDonald’s is going to be making more per hour than me, right? $15.00/hr? Seriously?!?!

        If you do the math for as many hours as I put in that’s just under what I make. They have a high school education. I am working on my doctorate’s, work at the #1 academically ranked school in my state and have 7 years of experience under my belt and you want to earn per hour anywhere NEAR what I make? Let’s put this in perspective: If that actually happened, I’d quit my job and find 2 fast food jobs and just work those. A lot less stress than I go through now, the hours would be similar and I could score some food every now and then. Sweet!

      • Most of my friends, and people I deal with, along with half of my family are poor. Mr. Irwin clearly has no ideal what he is talking about. At best, his list of 20 are heavily edited misleading half truths. The rich people I know are responsible workaholics. The poor people are irresponsible slackers.

        All rich and middle class liberals are hypocrites. All liberals should be equally poor.

      • Chris, you are totally full of it that you have a 50% increase in your business between 1st and the 6th of each month …..by people spending their “food money” on tobacco and alcohol. First of all, no one can buy tobacco or alcohol with FOOD STAMPS. Secondly, payments for welfare and food stamp benefits are spread out throughout the month and not just between the “1st and the 6th”. Third, I guess it never occurred to you that the major breadwinner, usually the husband, works full time, while the mother works part time because she takes care of the children. Working full time would require paying for daycare, which would take up more than half of a full time salary, so why work full time? As for the rest of your post…..it is total B.S and not worth answering.

      • Chris, Steve jobs stole the mouse and GUI from Xerox — he paid nothing for it and his company was being paid ludicrous amounts by Xerox at the time. http://zurb.com/article/801/steve-jobs-and-xerox-the-truth-about-inno

        Henry Ford neither invented the automobile nor invented assembly lines. He made the vehicle simpler and created better assembly lines; however, of most things he was an idiot.



        Sam Walton was a smart man, but he paid $25,000 to franchise his first store in 1945. In today’s money that’s well over $250,000 — an amount no poor person has access to.

        If you want a single hero, stick with comic books.

      • Kill the poor! That’s right, that’s what will fix the problem. Why should people of means endure the stench of the poor. I say round them up and gas them. They are the ones who are ruining America. Kill them, every last stinking one of them!

      • @Geoffrey S. Bush
        I am all for picking apart this ridiculous comment, but if you are going to do so, at least make an attempt to know what you’re talking about. In fact, not a single one of your statements about Jobs has even a grain of truth. First, the precursor to the mouse, the trackball, was invented in Britain in 1946. The actual mouse itself was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1963 at the Stanford Research Institute. Xerox had NOTHING to do with it. Second, it is complete and utter B.S. that Jobs paid nothing to Xerox, and stole their tech. Not only did Jobs pay Xerox 150M in Apple stock options (which they later sold for a LOT more) for his visit to P.A.R.C (unlike Gates, who DID pay nothing) he then went on to hire many of the key engineers, in order to use and further their work.
        I might even just let you stew in your own ignorance, but the link you provided to prove your point COMPLETELY contradicts you!!! What part of “Jobs Didn’t Steal The Mouse or The GUI from Xerox” (one of the subject heading of the piece do you not understand? What part of “Did Steve Jobs steal the GUI from Xerox… not really” are you too thick to process?
        I’d go on to say that I was one of the users of that Xerox system, the Alto, that Jobs got a peak at, and know for a FACT that the first Mac did not steal the GUI from Xerox, but at this stage of the game, even that is not necessary.

      • @ Chris: How do you know 1st hand that all the poor people spend all their money on alcohol and drugs? That is probably the most idiotic, non scientific researched based comments I’ve seen in a long time. You remind me of the typical white guy who’s unhappy with their life and feels the need to blame another group all the while having access to a system that many don’t have access to.

        As far as the big evil corporations? I suggest you do a little research or at least access someone elses. A few years ago Time magazine did a scathing but accurate story on detailing at least 10 major corporations that received billions in tax breaks and incentives to expand or grow their company under of guise of hiring more people.They found something that most critical thinkers already know: before the contract was fulfilled, a large percentage of these companies declared bankruptcy or moved operations to another country! you know, with those jobs that “hire people, increase benefits…” you know…

        Chris. You are probably not originally from America and just moved here so Imma go easy on you. This…Country…was ….built….by…..Slaves. That’s right! this country rose to economic prominence due to free labor! Sugar, Cotton, lumber etc.. and not to mention those wonderful railroad guys! In fact they worked the hell out of most people of color.

        and Chris, many poor people can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work to become successful. Mostly because they are caught in the cycle of poverty. To put it simply, they don’t have boots to pull themselves up with! No one wants to give a poor person a loan to start a business and in fact, most poor people’s children’s schools average 10-15 k lower in money spent per kid than more affluent communities even utilizing public education.

        Lastly Christopher you need to check your heart. If you are white…deal with the seed of racism or at least why you are so jaded against even considering another point besides yours and the Faux News Crew. If you are black or a person of color: seek therapy.

      • Chris writes: “When you get off your soap box take a moment to consider that this country was built by the Sam Waltons, Henry Fords, and Steve Jobs of the world.”

        No. This country was built largely by slave labor, then wage slave labor, including lots of child labor, and was predicated upon a genocide against Native Americans. The white male owners take the credit undeservedly. They did not do the vast majority of the actual work, and they could not have done it without killing off almost the entire population of the continent first.

      • I’m poor, and I actually agree with this article. I usually don’t agree with articles like these, but this one is spot on. I’ve been busting my butt to get off of assistance by going to school. It’s not been easy. My kids are facing the same struggles I did in school, and I’m challenged as a parent by not being able to financially meet those educational needs outside of the classroom. If we want less poverty we need more tutoring for low income families!!!!!!

      • #9 is just useless….you are skewing the numbers to make it sound better. They don’t pay as much in taxes period. And as a banker for the last 25 years the majority of lower income people…make very poor economic decisions and do little to plan for the future.

      • What a complete and utter load of nonsense. But thanks for yet another confirmative example that being a banker does not require any proficiency at math, sociology, or ethics. Using percentage of income is NOT skewing the numbers. Just the opposite. It is a measure of effect. If you are poor, by definition, you do not have disposable income to use for random purposes. So the degree to which an expense affected your overall purchasing power has a great deal of impact on your daily life, and is DIRECTLY measured by the percentage of one’s income a particular expense entails. Just putting forth raw totals carries NO useful, actionable information.
        In addition, the idea that being a banker gives you a representative data sample to form ANY informed opinion about the poor is ludicrous and asinine on its face. It gets more so when you dig below the surface.
        In fact, it is only the rich who can in general even afford to make such poor economic decisions.

    • Wuz, did you actually follow any of the links? More than the first one, which takes you to a fact-supported NYT article? The three others that I followed took me to actual studies/data. And, no, I didn’t follow every link, just enough to be able to say that your own assertion that these 20 assertions are “based on nothing more than a series of cherry-picked media articles and assertions by other individuals” is itself unsupported by a complete set of data.

      • Phil, what constitutes fact-supported? I work in education and hear constantly, “researched-based” or “fact-supported”. When I respond, “by who?”, people either can’t give me the source or I determine that the source was some group like the NEA or NYT, who certainly doesn’t have an agenda. C’mon guy, get real.

      • “fact supported NYT article” … well, that just shot holes in your entire argument. NYT has been a propaganda arm for the Democrats for decades. OF COURSE their article supports that worldview. And didja know… I can pound data to fit any perspective I want it to. Links to data are now also subjective. But thanks for playing.

      • And your ad hominem automatically invalidates yours. You do know how logical fallacies work, right?
        (No, sorry, apparently you don’t.)
        As to you “ability to pound data”, prove it. How about I post a series of stats 101 test questions that a first year student could answer, and see if you can give the the right value? Well?

    • Loved “The Story” Ben…awesome. Thanks for writing it. But this post of yours seeks to further the “victim mentality” that is so pervasive in today’s first-world culture. Dave’s remarks were to simply draw parallels between healthy behaviors and successful outcomes. Period. And while the sampling was indeed small, think for a moment…about your own life…you likely are practicing many of the “healthy” traits shared by wealthy people, don’t you? Don’t feel bad; it’s who you are. You know what is healthy and what is not. It’s not rocket science. Impoverished people need guidance, direction and above all, hope. And his list attempts to identify behaviors that we all can follow in the hope that it may awaken us to make changes in our lives that lead us to be financially fit. Dave certainly doesn’t need my defense, but I will tell you he wants nothing more than for all of us to lift our heads up, plant one foot in front of the other and lead a life of making healthy decisions. Merry Christmas. And again, thanks for bringing us “The Story”.

      • Glad you loved The Story. (Especially gratifying to hear, considering how close it came to not happening!)

        I would argue that the small sample size is a big deal. It means it’s more than likely that some (or most) of the statistics which were passed off as fact do not accurately represent the habits of the poor. I have no doubt some are at least generally true, such as the one about the poor eating more junk food calories — though not all the reasons for this come down to individual choice. But claims like “6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor” just seem to stretch the limits of credibility for me.

        You’re right that I probably practice many of the “healthy” traits on Ramsey’s list…at least I hope I do! But I’m fortunate to earn a decent living. I’m not wealthy by American standards, but my family and I don’t lack for any necessities. Now you could argue that’s because I’ve practiced a good work ethic, and I certainly hope that’s the case. But some of it’s because I was born into a reasonably well-off family that could afford to send me to a respected college.

        More to the point, the fact that I’m not poor gives me the luxury to practice some of these habits. I can do #3 on Ramsey’s list (exercise 4 days a week) because I can afford a gym membership if I want one. I can afford to buy decent running shoes so I don’t destroy my feet when I exercise.

        As for #4, I don’t have a commute per se (I work from home), but I can afford to buy audiobooks if I want. And I can afford a car in which to listen to them.

        I’m able to get up a few hours before work each day (#15), which I do so I can write, because I don’t have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. I don’t have to spend my evenings working a second or third shift somewhere so I can put food on the table.

        My point (which others have made better) is that Ramsey’s piece confuses correlation and causality. He assumes these habits are the cause of people’s poverty rather than a consequence of it. And I think the reality is more complex than that.

      • Dave wants people to buy his product, period. That’s how he got rich – by peddling his stuff. It’s naive to think that he cares about anything but that. If he did, his products would be minimally priced – or even free.

      • This list isn’t for the poor. It’s for those who have no understanding what the poor are going through. It’s not victim mentality. It’s not saying “don’t feel bad: it’s who you are.” It’s telling you judgmental types to pay attention. Also, did you read the article? Why would anyone say don’t feel bad: it’s who you are-working more than everyone”

        And to touch on someone else’s points. The people of means I know are quite lazy. Oh they work hard, but they pay people to do their yard work, they pay people to clean their houses, they pay people to do their laundry, they never cook.
        The poor people I know work just as hard outside the house and then have to do all of those things for themselves still when they get home.

      • You referring to the parts that take you to the “fact” based left leaning news organization or the other opinion links? I want to throw it out there that I am conservative and therefore bias to an extent. I give very little credibility to either story since they both were not supported properly.

    • Gently, brother. The Bible has even more to say about those who disregard the poor. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. Check out the prophets, the gospels, and the letters,

      • The Bible has a lot to say about those who forgo everyone else in the world, and focus only on the poor. They’re called “goats”.

        You’ll find it when you actually read the damn thing.

      • Don Brown – As a biblical scholar I take issue with that remark. The Bible says virtually nothing about “people who focus only on the poor.” The people called goats in the parable you allude to are the ones who refused to clothe the poor and visit the prisoners. Read James some time; or one of the gospels, or the prophet Amos, or just Google “what does the Bible say about poverty” and start looking at the 2,000 verses that deal with this issue.

      • That was in the context of Christian groups who were convinced that since Jesus was coming back soon they just had to sit around and wait. It was a communal system in which you did the jobs that needed to be done and in return could expect food and shelter. You didn’t have to apply for jobs or pay for food out of your wages. They shared all they had in common, but expected effort in return.

        Not like a system now where some people earn money just by investing money they already have.

      • A certain poor Jew from Nazareth did not paint an easy road for the rich. Nor did he, growing up in a small village where bartering was the way of life, contrasted with using Roman coins, speak kindly about mammon and about the coin exchange cultures that he found in Jerusalem. MLKJr apparently carried with him Howard Thurman’s “Jesus and the Disinherited”. Check it out.

    • Your point is true but the real difference is that Ramsey’s conclusions are naive and lack common sense. The sad point is that Ramsey made his name in common sense financial planning but isn’t recognizing that Inequality of wealth is inevitably a problem in any free and prosperous society. If you play monopoly in the third grade you can begin to understand the basics of how capitalism creates winners and losers. Our next generations will be defined by how those with wealth and power treat those who don’t have it. (Does a extraordinary company like Walmart really value their hard working cashiers at less than $8 an hour?)

    • I am below the poverty line, and I see this happen to myself and other poor people every day. They are spot on, except for the SNAP thing. Where I live SNAP individual recipients get a WHOLE $16 per month! That’s $0.53 a day for food! For a long time, I was lucky to get one meal a day!

      • Since folks are curious. SNAP is on a sliding scale. So the more income you have, the less amount you get. ALSO family of 5 with an income the same as a family of 4 will get more SNAP money, than that family of 4.

        Outside of Hawaii and Alaska everyone is on the exact same scale. So the Author gave the average, but if one is working, with little to no kids, the amount they will get will drop substantially.

        The only extra tidbit of info is occasionally you will have a state that offers to give more money for federal benefits. Few do, and the few that do, are trying to get out of that business because it’s bankrupting them, AND you will see more dependency because with the added $$ to benefits it makes it possible to live off of the system. On the federal money one gets, it’s pretty much impossible. What I tend to find, is those that see people living off of the system permanently is they are in one of those states that supplement. I do not, thus in my poor neighborhood I don’t see generally people trying to take advantage of the system.

    • I grew up hungry and poor since age 10 and still struggle. I have struggled with many of these truths. If you don’t believe any of it, ask a poor person. What gets me is people sit around talking about “the poor” and making assumptions and doing “studies” but does anyone actually get out in the world and have real conversations with each other? Um, not really. The poor, are actual people.

      • Thank you! This is exactly the right answer in my opinion. Don’t just read blogs or newspapers or text books and think you know anything about poverty – go out and befriend a person who is living in poverty and share your skills, talents and life with them on the journey out of poverty. Anyone who feels like they live a successful life had people in their lives to help them through the transitions – from middle school to high school, from high school to college, deciding on a spouse, being a parent, buying a house, setting up a checking account… the list goes on and on. And one thing I know is that if you didn’t have parents that had many of these things then as a child you missed out on the natural process of learning how to be successful and resourced in this culture. So you need to find others that can help assist you and walk along side.

      • Agreed. As an academic in this line of work, it is necessary that this dialogue and knowledge extend beyond the ivory tower, past blog postings, and into the communities. As for those who rebuke Irwin and his writings: it’s easy to feel defensive when your (class) privilege becomes threatened.

      • People sit around postulating about the motivation of the poor to take advantage of the system, however if anyone really and truly wants to know what the average working-poor person has to do to keep a roof in a safe neighborhood, food for two children, cloths, personal hygiene products, laundry, transportation, school supplies for the same,they would get down where we live and live with us for a year on $8.00 per hour! This would be a study I would love to see conducted. Note taxpayers would rather this study than to see congress give themselves another raise in pay. This would be a real “Reality Show” that I’d pay to see! Please know that everyone who lives in poverty may not have started there, events in life, (death of a spouse, divorce, illness, forced downsizing, natural disasters) may have dealt people bad hands but we play the cards we have. Always hoping to get ahead and many times that’s not possible unfortunately. It should be a requirement (for those who serve the poorer populations and create regulations regarding said people) live for one year as a part of that population so that they will know what it’s like to be poor. I myself started of a word of the state, married, veteran,college student, divorced, homeless with two children, disabled with my teen daughter left to care for me while the Veterans Administration takes it’s time processing my claim. I’m educated and yes I’m poor, but I’ve worked everyday since the age of 15. I’m not on illegal drugs looking for a handout.

      • I completely agree with you…what a great idea to do a study on this subject. Maybe with real numbers and the science behind that study there would be a shift in the thinking regarding the poor. When statements are made regarding the plight of the poor, many are stated as fact when in truth they are just stereotypes. We had been transferred from Wisconsin to Florida in September of 1996. Two months later we were living in paradise and jobless because the company sold and everyone was terminated. There was no severance, no insurance after the end of that month and a $800 a month mortgage. We sold bikes, computers, lost both vehicles, sold off my Mary Kay Cosmetics inventory for less than cost, and spent every Saturday and Sunday at the flea market to get enough money to by food for the five of us. We didn’t qualify for any services because we hadn’t been living there long enough to establish residency. What we thought was going to be the thrill of a lifetime, living near Disneyworld and all of the other theme parks became a nightmare because while the kid’s friends were going there, they could not. Despite our financial situation, I always got up, did my hair, makeup and nails and wore my jewelry that I hadn’t already pawned and went out looking for jobs. I was not willing to let my circumstances transform who I was as a person. I was more than my circumstances. People can say what they want about the poor, but you don’t have to be clothed in tatters, unwashed and without at least some of the things that you had before your circumstances changed. Don’t judge unless you have walked in someone else’s shoes. Just remember, Karma is a bitch…what you put out there boomerangs right back at you when you least expect or can afford for it to happen.

    • Wuz…what does your Bible say about this whole subject? I guess Jesus was only talking about the “poor in spirit”. Hypocrisy…oh my!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The Bible…yeah…can you think of any other collection that has been used more often to pervert the meaning of the BIG story by quoting “cherry picked” chapter, verse or line?
      You pompously attempt to discredit Ben Irwin by citing the #1 source for distorting the true meaning of a story/parable to use for your own weakminded end.

    • How about 20 things poor people did to end up in their situation. I’ll start.
      #1 devalue education and do nothing while in school
      I grew up poor, with hardworking parents. We got by on cheap meals and garage sale clothes. We couldn’t even afford a television. But my parents worked hard, and made me understand that I was going to have to work hard to EARN things in life. I’m a successful adult, married with three kids, My sister is a doctor. Both of us poor growing up, both of us public school educated, both of us successful. Most poor people are provided many, many, many chances growing up to change their lot in life and don’t.

      Don’t tell me about their difficult life as adults. Tell me about the decisions they made along the way that put them there.

      • Bravo,Joe…..you hit the nail on the head.Our life here in this country is only predicated on our decisions,our choices. While we are not all born into a level playing field, we are not defined by another individual unless we choose to allow it.Personally, I save my sympathy for those that are either mentally or physically handicapped in some way due to no fault of their own. There are very few that escape times where we’re unjustly treated or are victimized in some way. It’s what we DECIDE to do about it that alters our future.If as much effort was spent forging jobs and training as is perpetrating the victim mentality,we would be way ahead of the game.

      • Humility, oh humility, where art thou oh humility?

        Privilege, just by the color of your skin and type of name you have, opens doors you didn’t even know opened because of the your unsaid birth given privilege of white skin and a name like Paulette Yates Corry. And you think it’s ALL related to hard work?!!

        Here’s a checklist of “white privilege”..that everyone of all colors and socio-economic backgrounds should read and learn from:


      • You seem to think there’s no such thing as bad luck, or people being misled into thinking they’re training for a job that won’t be moved overseas, or going to bad schools, or being bullied to an extent that it interferes with schoolwork and learning.

        It is possible to overcome bad circumstances, yes, but that does not mean it is morally acceptable to look with contempt upon those who don’t. Not everyone makes it. How we treat those who do not defines how civil our society is.

      • Peggy: It’s more complex than that. My husband and I are college graduates and both worked very hard to support our young children. We decided to participate in the American Dream and open our own business. We have never worked so hard in our lives. Our business didn’t make it and left us desperately broke at Christmas time. Our community helped in many ways. I guess you could call them “handouts”. It took a little while to get back on our feet, but we managed to. Prior to our financial reverses, we had donated and volunteered for agencies that serve the poor. We still do. My point is that, sometimes things don’t turn out as we expect them to. There will always be people caught up in poverty unexpectedly. That’s why Christ asks us to help people in need. If the whole planet did this, there would be no wars and people wouldn’t fall between the cracks never to recover. Thank God for kind people and the Salvation Army.

      • Tell me, Joe, what time period was it when you grew up poor? Because the gap between poor and rich is steadily growing larger, and with more momentum every generation. The top 1% of America’s population control more of the country’s wealth than the entire lower middle class COMBINED. It is no longer enough to just work hard. My mother worked three jobs, two of them full time, as a single mother to support three children. She did end up going to trade school, and becoming a medical assistant. Even with that, she barely kept her head above water. It wasn’t until the very unfortunate death of my step father that she was able to pay off her debt entirely with his life insurance policy. She is now a homeowner for the first time in her entire life, because she has good enough credit to finally get a home loan (she’s 50). It literally took someone dying for her to climb out of the poverty hole. And I watched her when I was growing up. She was not lazy by any means, and she would go hungry so that us kids always had something to eat. She was NOT on welfare most of the time because we didn’t have a steady place to live. Welfare requires a home address, as does EVERY type of government assistance. I stood in line at churches so that we could pick up a food box. And a lot of times, we couldn’t get to the church on time because we had to rely on public transportation to get there, and so all the food boxes were already gone. She didn’t put herself in that situation, either. When I was 4 months old, she was forced to move to an unfamiliar place where she had no money and three children to support because my father was abusive and she got us out of there. Was her poor decision taking us out of an abusive environment? Was it not staying there to continue to be beaten? Was it entering into a relationship with someone who was a very sweet and nurturing person until he had a child?

        So please, go on and keep believing the fallacy that poor people did something to end up in the situation they were in. For some people, poverty is forced on them (many are poor due to a medical situation that their insurance won’t cover that bankrupts them- most Americans are only one medical emergency away from poverty, even those who are well off).

      • I agree Joe but not everyone has mentally healthy parents who are supportive. Some people are struggling with issues that they cannot control.

      • More importantly, many people did EXACTLY what joe’s parents did, and did NOT manage to get ahead. This is the classical logical error of assuming that a single case can be extrapolated into a generality. In fact, if everyone who worked hard had the same luck, you’d ALL still be poor.

      • Wow, Joe…you make a valid point, and all of the victim come out to show you haw are just privileged schmuck who must not have earned it. I saw the person who cried slavery and racism, and one who cried bullied youth, and bad schooling, and even low IQ. It must really suck to be them. Or, they can inspire others to study hard, work hard, and show them it can be done. For some reason, that seems to be missing from all of the victim comments.

      • And intelligible English (not to mention simple editing) seems to be missing from yours. What is not missing is baseless condescension, unsupported dismissal of other viewpoints, realistic alternatives to actual challenges (you can’t just study your way out of a low IQ).
        Oh, and data to back up your argument. But we already touched on that.

    • I did my M.Ed. Action Research on classism, which is what I see in the Ramsay. The information here is the same or similar to what I used within the work. If you check, which I am sure you won’t, then you will see that the stats here are good.
      You can not spend food stamps on alcohol and tobacco for the replay from Chris. If it is not food stamp you refer to as food money then please be more specific.

    • Fortunately for you, the bible doesn’t clearly say anything unfavorable about idiots. You are the one who asserts the articles were “cherry picked.” Ramsay has a lot of good things to say about handling money, for those who have some. What he seems to miss is the devastating poverty that is beyond his model — and there is poverty in this country that cannot be addressed by using a method involving envelopes and snowballs. I have benefitted from Ramsay’s teaching. But people who work at a company that will allow them only 25-30 hours per week in order to avoid paying benefits, resulting in the necessity of using government assistance for food, or people who work in the food service industry and are not guaranteed the already inadequate mininum wage, are not going to be able to take baby steps and debt snowballs to a comfortable middle class lifestyle. Check what the bible has to say about our attitude toward the poor…but, of course, what Jesus said about that won’t fit your worldview so you will ignore it completely and recast it in some fashion.

    • The Bible also has something rather unfavorable to say about those who do not help the poor, Wuz. Not to mention those who worship money over humility.

      Now who were you sugesting is being hypocritical?

      • WUZ” there’s only one way for you to get what the reality of poverty is, that would be for you to join us for “A Night in a box” here in Denver. Once you walk in their shoes, you’ll never be the same. It seems that our culture has narrowly defined who is desirable to have as an employee and who is not. If someone has a physical disability, mental disability, lots of kids, old, young, stutterer, ugly face, fat, black, Korean, Mexican
        (I could go on forever) they are not chosen to be hired in this time of a poor economy. Are all these folks totally worthless? Or is there a very tight demographic that allows those who fit the right description, in the door and everyone else has to stay outside. You must know that there isn’t one single cause for poverty,just as there is not one single cure. However, poverty can be conquered. It just requires that ALL of us try to help those in need. Money can’t fix it all. A helping hand, treating folks with respect can go a long way to bring people back to self sufficiency. Most of just don’t want to get involved.

    • The bible also says it’s okay to rape female slaves, and hey, having slaves is fine too, according to the bible. Please, if you’re trying to go for moral high ground, use something with a better set of examples than the bible.

      • Hi, dear I went to Christian school and I have read the Bible so I know what you mean. God guided me in an unexpected direction and I finally found the truth I was looking for! Please read the following:

        2:177 Piety is not to turn your faces towards
        the east and the west, but piety is one
        who acknowledges God and the Last
        day, and the angels, and the book, and
        the prophets, and he gives money out of
        love to the near relatives, and the
        orphans, and the needy and the wayfarer,
        and those who ask, and to free the slaves,
        and he observes the Contact prayer, and
        contributes towards betterment; and
        those who keep their pledges when they
        make a pledge, and those who are patient
        in the face of good and bad and during
        persecution. These are the ones who
        have been truthful, and they are the

        2:235 There is no blame upon you if you
        openly propose marriage to these
        women, or you keep it between
        yourselves. God knows that you will be
        thinking of them, but do not meet them
        secretly, unless you have something
        righteous to say. Do not consummate the
        marriage until the required interim is
        reached in the book. Know that God
        knows what is in your minds, so be
        conscientious of Him, and know that
        God is Forgiving, Compassionate.

        2:256 There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.

        3:92 You will not reach piety until you spend
        from what you love. Whatever you
        spend, God is aware of it.

        3:186 We will test you with your wealth and
        with yourselves, and you will hear from
        those who have been given the book
        before you and from those who set up
        partners much annoyance. If you strive
        and be aware, then these are affairs of
        great resolve.

        4:105 We have revealed to you the book with
        truth that you may judge between the
        people according to what God has
        shown you, and do not be an advocate
        for the treacherous.

        4:109 Here you are arguing on their behalf in
        this world, but who will argue on their
        behalf with God on the day of
        Resurrection? Or who will be their

        4:19 O you who acknowledge, it is not lawful
        for you to inherit the women by force,
        nor that you become harsh with them to
        take away some of what you have given
        them, unless they commit a clear
        lewdness. Live with them in kindness. If
        you dislike them, then perhaps you may
        dislike something and God makes in it
        much good.
        4:20 If you wish to replace one mate instead
        of another, and you have given one of
        them a large amount, then do not take
        anything from it. Would you take it by
        falsehood while it is clearly a sin?
        4:21 How can you take it when you have
        become intimate with each other, and the
        women have taken from you a strong

        4:135 O you who acknowledge, stand with
        justice as witnesses to God, even if
        against yourselves, or the parents or the
        relatives. Even if he were rich or poor,
        God is more worthy of them, so do not
        follow your desires from being just. If
        you twist or turn away, then God is
        Ever-aware of what you do.

        4:148 God does not like that any negative
        sayings be publicized, except if one is
        wronged. God is Hearer,

        4:51 Did you not see those who were given a
        portion of the book, they trust
        superstition and aggression, and they say
        of the ingrates, “Those are better guided
        than these who acknowledged the path.”

        4:60 Did you not see those who claimed they
        acknowledged what was sent down to
        you and what was sent before you? They
        wanted to seek judgment through
        aggression, while they were ordered to
        reject it. It is the devil who wants to lead
        them astray.

        6:103 No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is Subtle well-aware of all things.

        9:60 The charities are to go to the poor, the
        needy, those who work on their
        collection, those whose hearts are to be
        reconciled, free the slaves, those in debt,
        in the cause of God, and to the wayfarer.
        A duty from God; God is
        Knowledgeable, Wise.

        47:31 We will test you until We know those
        who strive among you and those who are
        patient. We will bring out your qualities.

        90:4 We have created the human being to
        90:5 Does he think that no one is able to best
        90:6 He says: “I spent so much money!”
        90:7 Does he think that no one saw him?
        90:8 Did We not make for him two eyes?
        90:9 A tongue and two lips?
        90:10 We guided him to both paths?
        90:11 He should choose the better path.
        90:12 Do you know which the better path is?
        90:13 The freeing of slaves.
        90:14 Or the feeding on a day of great
        90:15 An orphan of relation.
        90:16 Or a poor person in need.
        90:17 Then he has become one of those who
        have acknowledged, and exhort one
        another to patience, and exhort one
        another to kindness.

      • Hey! The bible is enormous compilation of man’s relationship with God and each other. Of course anyone can pull some evil statements out of context and make it sound like the bible is full of garbage. HOWEVER! If one takes a moment to read what Jesus actually said, you will find that He asks very little of us. He promises us three gifts: Faith, Hope and love. He also said to” love each other as much as we love ourselves”. HE said that this was the most important thing. If I told you a story about my daughter, I might say something like: She is so kind and talented, but sometimes I want to kill her. Would you take me literally? The bible is a complicated to understand as Shakespeare and our
        sad country.

      • There is truth in the Bible. As a historical text people would write about the shocking and obscene. Just because something awful is in the bible also does not mean that it is condoned by God.

    • The Bible also has more to say about treating the poor with dignity and charity. And about the consequences to persons who turn their eye away from those who are suffering.

    • The Bible also has something rather unfavorable to say about the rich. Over and over. Ramsay has taken a large group of Christian followers and encouraged them to think about money on a daily basis (in order to become debt free, but it still has become an obsession for many Christians that I know), which is the opposite of how Jesus lived his life.

    • I seem to recall the Bible having plenty to say about surrendering the material things of the world and helping the poor, too….but I’ll bet those parts aren’t nearly so clear in your memory, are they?

    • Poor people can become educated like a middle class kid. Unfortunately, the parents do a poor job of parenting and set bad examples. I feel bad for the unfortunate kids.

      Most poor people pay little or no taxes.

      If fully qualified based on income the SNAP benefit is between 150 and 200 per person with the 150 being for a family of 8 or more and 200 for a single person. The benefits are offset if they make too much money.

      “Because they can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food. They’re trapped in a food system that subsidizes processed foods, making them artificially cheaper than natural food sources. So the poor are forced to eat bad food — if they’re lucky, that is….”

      Looks like left wing propaganda. Processed food is always more expensive per pound than unprocessed. The problem with the poor is that they have little knowledge of nutrition and make poor choices. They can live within their food stamp budget if they eat beans, various grains, cooking oil, vegetables and small amounts of meat and milk like much of the rest of the world. They can’t if they drink pop, eat junk food and other prepared and processed foods.

      Many homeless suffer from mental illness which, if they can quality, will be able to receive welfare (SSI) along with food stamps. They just need a little help navigating the system. Any single parent will qualify for welfare benefits.

      • Poor people can NOT “become educated like the middle class”. You need to seriously educate yourself! Educational opportunities are NOT even remotely equal. I thaw little to nothing to do with parenting. But care to cite ANY statistics to bolster your ridiculous claim? No, I thought not.
        Furthermore most poor people pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than the middle class, and in comparison to the rich, both pay far more. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about.
        Case in point, your nonsense about processed food. I don’t know where you shop, but it is utter nonsense that processed food is more expensive than processed. Simply typing it online does not make it so, and anyone who has actually shopped for food recognizes the nonsense in your words.
        “Many homeless suffer from mental illness….”
        And many do not. What is your point?

      • Ugh, all those typos are driving me CRAZY. So to let me sleep at night, here is the edited version!
        Poor people can NOT “become educated like the middle class”. You need to seriously educate yourself! Educational opportunities are NOT even remotely equal. It has little to nothing to do with parenting. But care to cite ANY statistics to bolster your ridiculous claim? No, I thought not.
        Furthermore most poor people pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than the middle class, and in comparison to the rich, both pay far more. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about.
        Case in point, your nonsense about processed food. I don’t know where you shop, but it is utter nonsense that processed food is more expensive than unprocessed. Simply typing it online does not make it so, and anyone who has actually shopped for food recognizes the nonsense in your words.
        “Many homeless suffer from mental illness….”
        And many do not. What is your point?

      • I don’t disagree with all of your points. However, “any single parent will qualify for welfare benefits?” I was a single parent for almost ten years and, considering that my not-that-considerable income is a little under $40k, I was most definitely not eligible for welfare benefits. Note for the future: not all single parents are impoverished.

    • I seem to recall the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus says “then the king shall say to those at his right hand ….. For I was hungry & you gave me food, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger & you welcomed me, I was naked & you gave me clothing, I was sick & you took care of me, I was in prison & you visited me……(my paraphrase…the righteous asked when did we do this?) The king will answer them, truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” In the Holy season of our Savior’s birth perhaps – we need to remember this and emulate it rather than worry about people being hypocrites. This is sanctimonious; however, it seems it needed to be said.

    • WuzYoung,

      I work with poor people at my church and I guarantee that this list is a very accurate portrait of the working poor. They work hard and are ragged and exhausted all the time.

      Sure, in over a decade of working with more than 200 poor women, I’ve seen 3 liars/cons and 1 woman who kept popping out babies for welfare, but that is really unusual, not the norm. 98% of the women who come through my door are hard workers who want the best for their kids.

      Scripture makes it really clear whose side God is on. Make sure you’re on the correct side. Jesus says your future depends on how you treat the poor, naked, and hungry (Matthew 25).

      • This article is about poor folks in general, and as has been pointed out, you cannot take a small sample of folks, especially from a niche program, and make generalizations about the entire population. At best, your experience would indicate that 2% of women try to game the system.

        I help a lot of poor folks, but I do it on a personal level, and I can attest that there are more than a mere 2% of folks who try to game the system.

      • You have got to be freaking kidding me!!! Are you serious?!? How big of a freaking hypocrite can you be?!?
        “This article is about poor folks in general, and as has been pointed out, you cannot take a small sample of folks, especially from a niche program, and make generalizations about the entire population.”

        Yes, it HAS been pointed out. To YOU. Repeatedly.

        “I help a lot of poor folks, but I do it on a personal level, and I can attest that there are more than a mere 2% of folks who try to game the system.””

        Um, hello?!? You can’t attest anything of the kind, for EXACTLY the reason you JUST POSTED!!!

        Seriously, do you even think before you your complete ignorance?

    • Clearly, you are one of the people so fixated on your own view the no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince you. I happen to be disabled and poor, and in a position where most of my acquaintances (such as Home Health Aides) are poor. Most of the strangers I see, usually in government offices or food pantries, are also poor and I eavesdrop on them shamelessly. What I see and hear constantly confirms, with a couple of reservations, every point up there. The reservations? First it is nearly impossible to live on $133 of food. Almost all the poor I know on SNAP are forced to spend more than the aid. Second, better food choices are possible, but not always available; both white flour pasta and whole grain oats are cheap, but if you have to go to a food bank, they are far more likely to have surplus pasta.

      The real trial of being poor is very simple to summarize: you have no margin. None. You can’t make a mistake and you can’t have unavoidable accidents happen or you will be in immediate economic jeopardy. Something as simple as having your battery give up the ghost on the way to work can set off a concatenation of economic consequences that may force you into the streets and even if it doesn’t it will take months to finally overcome.

      People with margin, who can treat such a thing as a dead car battery as a mere nuisance simply don’t get it. None of them do.

      • I emphasize with your current circumstances, but SNAP is not a substitute for self reliance, it’s a supplement to aid those who have, for whatever reason, found themselves struggling. To criticize it for not providing enough for all that you want or need is quite disturbing given that it was never intended for that.

      • I suspect you will be hard pressed to provide citations backing up your claim as to the rationale behind SNAP, i.e. what it was intended for, mostly because your contention is utter nonsense.

    • So you have a problem with “cherry-picked media articles and assertions by other individuals.”, but you recall what the Bible says about hypocrites? You don’t see the contradiction there?

      • Yes, I don’t see the contradiction here, since I didn’t do that. Nor, for the record, did the article’s author. Do you have a point?
        Also, of what possible relevance is it what the Bible says about hypocrites?!? First, as I have said, I did not do that. Second, as others have said, who the hell gives a crap what the Bible says?!? Certainly not me.

    • The Bible also has some uncomfortable things to say about rich people, too. Keep on cherry-picking yourself, there.

    • WuzYoungOnceToo, on this one you are off, and I agree with Ben’s broader sources – which are all researched and verified, by the way. The problem with Ramsay’s and his crew’s assertions is not so much research but an opinion survey, and it aims at simply a validation of what they wanted to hear. This is highly influenced by the wealth and success “psychology” industry. Often, the expert industry preaches that success is based on solely on an individual’s choices. But any reasonable or wise person will recognize quickly that life is not always a result of choice. Poor people don’t usually have the luxury of choice.

    • I like this list. I have had co-workers who work two jobs. I have seen some leave work and say that they are going to the next job. I have co-workers who work full-time hours but have food stamps. My dad gave me a car which has increased my income but it increased my expenses too. I have a college degree but I don’t function under high stress. I just seem to get stuck in negative thinking when under stress. The waiting list for housing is so long that there is no point to adding my name to it. I think it is longer than a year now. Food stamps? I think that a person can’t have savings in order to qualify for them. I have been told by some to take the money out and stick it hide it in my apartment but that is dishonest. I will not lie to the government just to get money or food. (If I get desperate, I might change my mind here. Sometimes, moral get trashed when desperate for survival.) Others claim that this requirement of little money in savings is not true. I may look into it but I can manage to live without. It is a challenge and involves buying groceries with my credit card once and while in order to juggle the bills. Juggling bills requires a good level of planning too. You have to estimate your income (changed every week since my hours change every week.) and memorize the due dates of my bills. Survival in this world requires brains if you ask me.

    • I could write this list from first hand knowledge, and it wouldn’t look much like this.
      But I mean no disrespect. I think this post shows compassion.

    • You’re correct. If they want to attack the efficacy of the “polling” methodology they should demonstrate it with a detailed response with citations for authority for their criticisms. e.g. http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm#one

      I didn’t see Ramsey’s presentation so I don’t know if it was represented as being statistically valid and frankly I’m not sure that it matters. It’s merely a recitation of recurring behaviors and the apparent link between those behaviors or habits and economic success. It’s no different than saying that children in two parent households tend to be more academically successful than those children who come from single parent households. I don’t need a statistically valid study to confirm a common sense observation processed and compared to my own observations and life experiences. If there was a disconnect between my life experience and a reported statistically result then I’d be interested in the data and how it was obtained and it would have to be pretty compelling to overcome a common sense grounded viewpoint.

  3. I suppose it’s all in how you take it. I wasn’t offended by Ramsey’s list. I chose to see him as trying to help people and encourage them to have better habits. Like Job and his friends learned, sometimes you can do all the right things and you can wind up with the short end of the stick. I acknowledge that and I have known plenty of people who needed help just because stuff happens.

    The difference is that your list had nothing uplifting about it — no plan of action that an individual could do to try to change things. Personally I prefer his approach which encourages personal growth.

    Your points 1 & 2 are all about waiting for some list or some assistance, then later in your list you say that the poor aren’t just takers. Make up your mind.

    # 3 is bogus. Yes, it can cost more to eat healthy, but rather than whine about it if we educate people to its importance, people can make those choices for their families. A recent NY Times article reported that 97% of U. S. Household subscribe to pay television (ie cable or satellite). Yet nationwide almost half of school children are on free or reduced lunch. You can try and blame the messenger all you want, but there are people who make poor choices.

    Rather than pat them on the head and say “you poor dear, look what the world is doing to you” I think the more loving approach is to empower the poor to look at things a different way. To teach them that $1.50/pound for apples IS cheaper than $1.50 for a 7 ounce bag of chips. Or teach them that the $1 burger with 3 ounces of meat is WAY more expensive than boneless skinless chicken breasts that can be purchased for $2 to $2.50 a pound in most cities on sale.

    There is nothing I love more than helping someone out. What’s better is when I can help them in a way that they are able to succeed and prosper.

    • Ray, you have to cook chicken breasts. Not so easy if you don’t have a proper kitchen or an hour between your jobs. And if you are going hungry, the chips with 155 calories per OZ (that’s 1085 in a 7oz bag!) is way cheaper per calorie than the 2 apples per pound (95 cal each).

      The point of this piece is that Ramsey’s list provides simplistic and individualistic answers to complex, systemic problems that affect real people.

      • You can buy 550 calories of avocado for the price of 7oz of chips.

        Of course if you don’t like avocados, you could buy eight or nine bananas for the same price as the chips and get a whopping 1,060 calories.

      • Walmart has cooked whole chickens for $5-$6. Can feed a family of 4-6 and they are already cooked packed full of flavour. My family loves buying them. You can do so much with them as well. For example make Chicken Fajitas with dollar store wraps. Dollar tree has so many frozen veggies for a buck now. I love buying them. In fact, frozen is better than fresh because they freeze dry them which keeps the nutrients better than fresh. So handy! Eggs are considered a super food now so eating an egg a day won’t hurt you unless you have extremely high cholesterol.

        Ray is correct in his posting, a lot of people just make bad choices.

      • 1) As has already been pointed out, many people who are poor don’t have transportation to get them to and from a Wal-Mart without spending a great deal of money.
        2) Frozen vegetables aren’t freeze-dried. Freeze-dried foods require rehydration.

      • 1) Every Walmart has a bus stop right outside the parking lot.

        2) Bicycle

        3) Carpooling

        4) Borrow a friend’s car.

        Stop being defeatist and making excuses. If you’re hungry, you’ll find a way.

        There are plenty of poor people who think feeding their kids McDonald’s every night is perfectly okay for dinner. They neither have the knowledge of nutrition, nor the desire to put in the effort toward long-term health when good-enough-for-tonight will suffice.

      • @Sarah:

        Those cooked chickens do no good for people on SNAP (Food Stamps)… You cannot buy cooked food with them! Our local Subway honors food stamps, but ONLY for the cold sandwiches or salads. If they “toast” the sandwich, they cannot accept SNAP. Our local Kroger (sorry, I won’t set foot in a WalMart) has the rotisserie chickens as well, and they are bagged and placed under warming lamps in the deli. All of the cold sandwiches have stickers that say something like “Food Stamp Eligible,” but you won’t find those on the chickens.

      • @lurkers
        1) my Wal-Mart does not have a bus stop out front
        2)my Wal-Mart is also quite far and would take far longer than feasible to get there on a bike. Not every Wal-Mart is in someone’s neighborhood.
        4) I don’t know many people who would do this, considering insurance liability (I know I certainly wouldn’t, that is just being wise)

        #3 is the most feasible option. But therein requires time and waiting- they may not be going for 2or 3 days, you are then stuck. Of course not going to Wal-Mart trying to find decent and cheap food close by is more likely an option.

        I am not being defeatist, I am being a realist, knowing what happens in my bubble of a world is not universal. Which is something you aren’t understanding. I am lucky in that I can afford nice meals and have a stocked freezer and fast food is a fun treat not a way of life.

        Also avocados by me are $3 each in the “cheap” supermarket. I would like to know where you find them for the price of a small bag of chips.

      • Diedre, I think you’ve hit on a key point: “knowing what happens in my bubble of a world is not universal.” Exactly! My own personal experience of something, however valid it may be, doesn’t invalidate the data showing that something else is true for most people. The fact that somebody manages to feed their family for $110 a month (a response someone shared somewhere else in this comment thread) doesn’t mean that everyone else can. What if they live in a food desert? What if they don’t have easy access to a supermarket (the scenario you described above)? What if they live in a high cost-of-living area?

        Anyway, thank you for sharing this very important insight.

      • So you’re saying the apples will help them lose weight and save money? That’s what we call two birds with one stone. :)

      • That is perhaps the most lame excuse I have heard anyone use for why they eat junk food.

        As Americans, we consume entirely too many calories every day already. A chicken breast can be cooked in a skillet in less than 8 minutes. The problem isn’t time, it is being lazy … why should I cook a chicken breast when I can just eat some potato chips.

        Calories per meal I’d be willing to bet that calories per meal never enter the mind of anyone who eats a bag of chips instead of preparing a healthy meal. The sad thing is that after eating that 1000 calorie bag of chips they are going to be hungry a half an hour later, when if they ate a healthy meal of 1000 calories, they wouldn’t be hungry for hours.

        I’d rather have an apple and a couple chunks of cheese for lunch than a burger and bag of chips .. and my budget is happier because of it.

      • The cooked whole chickens aren’t much more nutritious than anything else pre-cooked you get these days. By nature all that involves cooking to make things taste good more than providing proper nutrition and a balanced diet. Saying to someone who can maybe get to the grocery store once a week for a couple of hours that they can just make healthier choices is easy to do from a distance.

    • Ray Reavis, if you live in a poor urban area (like I do) there is a good chance that you do not have the opportunity to purchase $1.50/pound of apples. You also might not have the opportunity to buy those boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale. Grocery stores with quality produce and decent prices do not exist in many poor neighborhoods, and if you are in poverty there is a good chance that you do not have a car to drive to another neighborhood to go to the grocery store. This is the dilemma for many of my friends in my neighborhood.

      • So, are you poor? Do you not have the opportunity to purchase healthy food? How do you afford internet access if you are poor? Is internet access more important than food?

      • My family is poor and high speed internet is a necessity. I homeschool our children and internet is required to enter test results and view lessons guides. We do not have an expensive house or new cars. We do not have cable TV. We do not purchase video games or movies. I cannot afford the gas to drive while my husband is at work or school. We struggle to pay every bill, yet by the grace of God we do. SNAP is extremely important to us and I am very thankful for the ability to feed my family. We do receive benfits.

        There are many commentators who are assuming strangers they meet are “poor”. Many of these people are not poor, but are being stereotyped based on their subculture. You cannot look at a person and know their economic situation. Some people buy an inexpensive house so they have a lot of spending money. Other people like energy drinks and RIMS which makes others assume they are deadbeats abusing the system.

        The average food stamp recipient (80%) is a white American who has been laid off or fired, they are on SNAP for 2 years, and are able to get a degree and find another degree.

    • Dave has also almost single handedly changed the lives of millions of people in a positive way. I’m quite sure this article will effect the life of no one.

      • Not true – it affected me. And will affect many others like me who want to care for the least of these in the world around us.

        “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

      • I also to want to care for the least of these as does Mr. Ramsey who’s foundation gives away millions of dollars a year to charities around the world including drilling fresh water wells in Africa. You cant help many people though if you are buried in debt. He helps people eliminate that. I also prefer the government not be in the business of charity as they are incompetent and wasteful in most everything they do. I also believe in personal responsibility. We could quote bible versus all day on both sides of this argument.

      • Exactly, Emily.

        And Jake, Dave Ramsey may have helped people but that list was no help at all. It could easily have been posted under the title: “The 20 things rich people get to do that poor people can’t because they don’t have the money.” I expected better from Mr. Ramsey.

      • 1) What evidence supports your claim that this article will not affect anyone? That’s a pretty vulnerable position to argue. If even one person’s life is affected by it — including the author’s — then your claim is proven false.

        2) If you’re suggesting that, because Dave Ramsey has done good things, his argument is therefore sound, then you’re committing the genetic fallacy. The activities of Dave Ramsey’s publishing empire, and the philanthropic activities it supports, have nothing to do with whether he’s making a sound, evidence-based argument.

    • Teachers don’t excuse children on reduced-price lunch when assigning watching the evening newscast or a PBS special for homework. We have broadcast basic cable (about 20 channels) for $12/month because it’s expected that we’re able to view certain programs.

      • Yeah, dude. We have 15 channels just from a twenty dollar antenna. That’s 144 dollars you’ll be saving…. and my wife’s a teacher… they’d never make watching cable a required assignment.

    • The only way to find solutions is to look at the TRUTH. This list is the truth. Your self righteous lessons just scream of your own ignorance and privilege.

      $1.50 a pound for apples is what you get in the suburbs, and that equals 1 1/2 apples, most of which is the core that you can’t eat. It is more likely that they will buy a jar of spaghetti sauce for that money, not your condescending bag of chips.

      Most inner city groceries cost more and the quality is horrendous. On top of that, how much can you cook when working 60-80 hours a weeks and raising a couple of children? Now factor in that you may have only one or two pans and maybe if you are lucky a working stove and frig. No dishwasher, no big freezer. And if you grew up in poverty it is highly unlikely you know how to cook a variety of foods. Most people growing up in this May or may not have ever seen much less cooked a fresh zucchini, asparagus, fresh green beans, mushrooms, acorn squash, or many other vegetables that others take for granted

      Chicken is rarely $2 a pound anymore and boneless breasts are the most expensive cut of chicken there is, usually closer to $5 a pound. I would guess you rarely ever cook for multiple people on a budget, much less shop in poor neighborhoods. Go buy some groceries in the Bronx or South Central LA, without a car, and see what you find.

      How do you get housing with no savings? How do you pay the deposit when any shred of extra money you have is spent on groceries or heating?

      • Never mind the fact that he pointed out that they live off of $4.38 a day to eat!!! So $5-6 per pound is COMPLETELY out of their price range. They have a budget that they have to keep to. Now throw in the variation of utilities during the winter time and see how well they eat. I am a single mother with special needs children and I work FULL TIME and must run to pick them up from daycare after work and have TWO HOURS in the evening to cook a healthy meal (and yes I only use ground lean turkey, whole wheat breads, rice and pasta and fruits and vegetables which makes cooking a meal take a LOT longer) feed my special needs children who have cerebral palsy which results in difficulty in swallowing and using utensils and takes a lot longer and get them ready for bed and into bed by their bedtime of 7:30 so I can start the whole process over at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. I make a good wage compared to most but have unemployed ex and am not receiving child support at the moment and must maintain a house that is different than those with able bodied children but there is very little assistance for me other than a childcare subsidy. It would be easier to just expect the government to take care of me and my children but I come from an uneducated family history and have worked my butt off changing that by getting my education but am drowning in student loan debt and that will not be off of me for decades. WHY? Because I have a family who was opposed to my getting a higher education, went to school with children and could only work part time and the scholarships I won and financial aid along with a part time job DO NOT support a family of three. Now I graduated with a horrible economy and have had to take a job far below my education level because I do NOT have CONTACTS due to no family or friends in the social circle of my chosen profession. I attend social functions and events of the local association trying to make an in so I can progress in my career. To say that those who were born into an educated family and fairly well off family are not placed in position to make their life better is ludicrous. I work hard at trying to change my children’s life and it is happening but it is not a situation that most people in my situation can do. It is extremely difficult. My oldest son (not special needs) is graduating in June. He is the second grandchild of 12 of my parents and of the oldest 5 grandchildren only 2 have gone to high school (both of them mine) and they will be the only 2 to not only graduate from high school but they already have scholarships for college and plans on what they will do. My hard work may not make my life easier and I may struggle for the rest of my life financially to make ends meet BUT I have changed my children’s future and they will definitely have it easier and be better off than myself. That has made EVERY struggle, every hardship, everything I have had to go without and every sleepless night worth it. My kids are going to succeed and have good lives and that is all I could ask for. I completely agree with Ben Irwin – for most people the “habits” that are displayed are due to necessity of their situation NOT because they have options and choose the poor one.

      • Please google “teach a man to fish in the bible”. You’ll find that it isn’t in the bible and it isn’t gospel aka good news. Then spread the word.
        I imagine the Pharisees pulling out “teach a man to fish” right before the prostitute showed up to wash the feet of Jesus. You have to agree that a prostitute is someone who has learned pretty well how to “fish” for her supper. Jesus didn’t say to the woman at the well, “It looks like someone already taught you to draw water from a well and you’ll never thirst again. Since you are your own savior now, I guess you don’t need me and my living water.”
        Please get a study bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, and read the gospel with new ears and an open heart. It has the power to put you to death and raise you to new life.

      • “Food Money” (at least in the State of Kansas) is restricted to food items only within the system, and cannot be used for any non-food products, nor any prepared foods such as fried chicken, Chinese or other kitchen foods within a grocery store/convenience store, etc. This balance is kept on a pre-paid card that only pays for approved items. Some recipients also receive “Cash Assistance” that they may use at their discretion.

      • Sure, but let’s cut ALL funding to education and fire all the teachers, because….we’re kinda stupid. Stupid enough to break the law by selling alcohol and tobacco to people illegally paying with food stamps and tell about it online. I certainly hope you’re lying about the percentage of your business you’re paying for by committing a crime.

    • “…encourage them to have better habits.” All the points listed above and more, such as the time-consuming meetings and requirements to receive SNAP and other assistance… These things ensure the poor do no develop better habits.

      A) They’re just not exposed to them because of social stratification. Occupy saw a lot of this, white middle-class protestors fleeing from or pushing out poor protestors who “made the movement look bad” or who had trauma-related behaviors that disturbed the middle-class. More on that in a later point.

      B) They don’t have time or resources. Developing better habits is not spontaneous. It’s the product of good examples and the means to resist fear. While it’s true that survival situations can teach people to manage their resources with greater care, the truth is that they have to have some consistent and/or expendable resources to learn with.

      They don’t. A misstep, a failure to be learned from or a risk holds the threat of degradation or death to the poor. And the paradox is that this invites even more dangerous decisions. For instance, buying lottery tickets feels like a way out or at least a fantasy that relieves the pressure of day-to-day survival.

      Furthermore, when you start out not knowing if your situation is sustainable, you develop feast-and-famine habits with your resources. And it’s not without reason. You need a lot of things right now to make your situation either more stable or just more bearable. You struggle to prioritize those needs because they ALL affect your survival and your opportunities to become stable. So what resources you do have are whittled away because there’s always a need that has to be filled immediately. You can’t save because of these nickel-and-dime expenditures, you can’t break the cycle unless you make more money, you can’t make more money because you can’t use what you do have more effectively. Can you imagine years, decades of this internal debate?

      C) On trauma, the poor are shamed. Relentlessly. They are constantly told that they’re wrong, unmannered, violent, smelly, ugly, selfish, crazy, hopeless, manipulative, lazy, ignorant, depressing and threatening. No one, NO ONE, deserves the kind of blame and humiliation that the poor, both the innocent and the guilty, are burdened with. Some people who become successful after poverty still demonstrate the twisting of the soul that it causes. Ayn Rand did. Starting with the right idea that no one should apologize for their existence and no one should be made to feel they have to, she concluded that no one should be sorry for abusing and stepping over others, either. This toxic mindset carried out of poverty ensures that poverty continues because there is always an underclass to condemn, to blame.

      Christ himself said “the poor will always be with you”. But He gave us a model of mutual aid and forgiveness to ensure the poor would not suffer like they do otherwise, so they would be able to participate in society and be compensated for it as anyone else expects to be. The whole point of Christ’s message is to not leave people to suffer fear, abuse and death but to build a society in which everyone can trust in providence. And that cannot be done by insisting that the poor take a leap of faith. They have, time and again throughout the whole history of humanity, and they still keep falling.

    • Cable TV $1500 a year
      Cell phones for the family $2000 a year
      New dr dre beats audio headphones $400 dollars for the family
      Xbox $500 dollars
      New Jordan’s and matching hoodies $800 a year
      New rims for your whip $1000
      Pack a day smoking $1200 a year per person X 2
      Two monster energy drinks a day $1200 a year per person X 2
      Total $12000 a year

      That’s $210 dollars a week. That’s less then my grocery bill for a family of four.

      Don’t tell me poor people can’t afford decent food. I can buy a pork roast for $15 dollars, throw in some corn and potatoes and make 8 meals at an average price of $2.50 cents per meal.

      Every morning I go to the gas station and grab a coffee. See the same people every day. 4 monster energy drinks, a couple pack of ho ho’s a pack of smokes, and then 2 or 3 dollars in lottery tickets. They spend $15 dollars, I spend 99 cents.

      Don’t blame society for repeated stupid decisions by a certain percentage of the population, and then tell me I’m supposed to feel bad for them and subsidize their lifestyle. I’d like 4 monster energy drinks, some friggen ho ho’s and donuts and some lottery tickets to. The difference is I’m SMART enough not to do that every damn day.

      • Ooo, nothing like a ridiculous stereotype to make you look like an idiot and an outright bigot. I do not pay for cable, tunes, hoodies, rims (I drive a 22 yr old vehicle because my town doesn’t have public transportation.) I make my own coffee for a few cents at home and I have never smoked or had an energy drink in my life! I have more than one college degree and have a times worked 4 different jobs simultaneously and still barely get by. Thanks for reminding me of the definition of “holier than thou.”

      • The practice of closely scrutinizing poor people’s lives to make sure they do not have any luxuries (that may have been gifts, discounts, from back when they had a better income, etc.) is just savage behavior to me. Maybe if we didn’t live in a consumer culture that constantly tries to sell us wonderful things, and maybe if we didn’t treat being poor as a thing to be ashamed of, people would spend less on status symbols?

      • Joe, THANK YOU! Very well said. Ben Irwin’s essay & list is a nice compilation (mostly government propaganda, though.) Maybe he should have included the list of over SEVENTY freebie programs for ‘the poor’ that we productive citizens pay for through flagrantly abusive taxes.

      • How is cable 1500 a year? Who says anyone is paying over a 100 a month? Who is buying 2000 worth of cell phone service? Prepaid is much cheaper…even for a family!! Xbox is not $500 and maybe someone gave it to them as a present. Are you reading people’s mail? Are you following them home from the gas station to see how they live on a daily basis??? Maybe that energy drink and hohos is the only pleasure they get in life. WHO are you to judge? You waste money on gas station coffee when you could make your own for less than 20 cents.

      • The bigger issue remains.. How do you know these people are poor? How do you know they are on welfare?

        More than half of Americans are on some form of government assistance. Well over half of us don’t live in the ghetto, own Air Jordans, or drink energy drinks.

      • Wow Joe, did you just make all of that up? And what’s your point? That people who are struggling should give up everything else so they can eat? A phone is a necessity. What poor person buys rims for their whip (I don’t even know what that is) for $1,000? How do you know all poor people smoke? How do you know those smokers are poor? Maybe the energy drinks are so the people can stay awake for their second job. What a narrow and ignorant view to express. I’m glad I don’t know you.

      • so we have two theories of poverty here. there’s your theory, that people live miserable lives because they’re dumb. they COULD change it, but instead, they make a choice to remain poor, and raise their children in poverty and die in poverty. Just a dumb choice that lots of people make.
        or there’s the theory subscribed to by professional fields like sociology and psychology, not to mention the rest of civilized society, that poverty is caused by a lot of really complicated factors, including an entire system set up to keep poor people poor, and that it’s a really difficult thing to break out of, regardless of an individual’s innate intelligence.

        Hmm. Poor people are dummies, or poor people face a lot of challenges that keep them from getting ahead…tough call..

    • I used to volunteer at a local food shelf, you know where you had to show an I.D. to pick up food- but you don’t for voting? Anyway, you know what they accepted their phone bill- which consisted of their cable t.v. bill or cellphone plans- I never in my life have had a $500.00 phone bill- and, by the way, I still exist without a cellphone…………..that drives my children crazy, but it’s doable. It’s about priorities. If I was deciding between eating, cable t.v., and a cellphone- it wouldn’t even be a close call.

      I missed the part on the fair taxes the poor pay………….don’t they receive earned income credit as well. This list was sloppy at best.

      • You’re old. Very old. You don’t understand that not having a cell phone means losing a job to the person who did have a cell phone and picked up as soon as the potential employer called.

        There are twenty or thirty applicants to every low-wage job. You don’t have time to get home and check messages and call back. The job is gone by then.

        The labor market is not what it was when you were young. You voted for politicians who shipped all the jobs overseas.

      • Bagofnickels- I’m 55, I don’t think that’s old, very old. Guess what I have a 33 year old son- no cellphone, and has a job. Don’t give me that about not being able to make it without a phone.

        Again, it comes down to priorities, period.

      • One of my responsibilities is to help the homeless find work. The employers ALWAYS require: Address, phone, email address and the most important resume. If you son got a job, he HAD to have access to all three of things. Th homeless may be carrying a cell phone, but typically it’s stolen and only good for a few more calls. Our ministry would loan cricket phones to those people who seemed able to land a job. We had great success with this program, because a prospective employer could contact in order to hire them.
        I would love to partner with you and help you find a job without using the top three requirements. Would you be willing to try that?

      • it’s super nice for you that you can exist without a cell phone, but some people don’t have all the privileges you have. some people are single parents working two jobs, who, out of necessity need to leave their kids home alone for periods of time, and for safety, they NEED to be reachable by phone. Some people don’t have stable housing…they and their children move a lot, couch surf, are at the mercy of seasonal work or slumlords etc. They need a phone that moves with them, that doesn’t have a connection and disconnection fee every time they move. for those people, the invention of cell phones means they finally have a better chance at securing jobs, be more available to their kids, and take advantage of other opportunities the rest of us take for granted. a cell phone means something different to you than it does to them.

        Same goes for TV. if you had a choice between leaving your 10 year old home for a couple of hours after school, or quitting the job that feeds them, you’d choose leaving them home. TV may not be the best choice if you’re a privileged middle class white family concerned about whether you kid has spent enough time practising on the piano, but when you’re a poor single mum, working your ass off, concerned about whether social services is gonna find out you left your kid alone and take them from you, TV is a lifesaver.

        The point of this article is to get people to think of stuff like this, to think of WHY people in different situations than themselves may have different needs and make different choices. The idea is to become MORE open minded…it’s not intended as an opportunity for you to use your standards of privilege to judge those whose lives you obviously don’t have a very accurate sense of. Why is it easier to assume that poor people are just making stupid choices than it is to assume they have reasons for their choices that are just so far from your reality, that you actually just haven’t thought about what they might be? Why do you even feel entitled to have an opinion about the choices they make in the first place? No-one is looking at your finances and all the decisions you make and publicly judging them…”you know, if you had done without your starbucks and outings to the movies these last 10 years, you could have used that money to get your kid into a better college”. You haven’t been invited to judge other people’s lives.

    • Ray, you clearly haven’t ever received food from a food shelf (SO much canned & boxed food), or tried to shop on a tight budget (not food stamps). There are rich people that also make poor choices. The article wasn’t saying “you poor dear, look what the world is doing to you”, it was pointing out that many people living in what the U.S. considers poverty are hard-working people who would give anything to have 2 healthy parents, or parents with better-paying jobs. Nobody’s asking you to help, but to have compassion and not throw people into stereotypes based on income. “Blessed are the poor” was not a judgement call in the Bible, but somehow it is by so many “Christians”.

    • So much of the poor bashing I hear is obsessed with cell phones and cable TV. Rich people probably don’t know this, but poor people buy cell phones because it is possible to find prepaid plans for $25/mo, which is substantially less than a land line and a zillion times more convenient, especially if you’re a parent who has to work and can’t be home with the kids.

      Also, getting internet at home — an absolute must if you are going to be job-searching or trying to pull yourself up by your self-employed bootstraps — is usually cheaper if you get a package deal that includes television. Comcast internet costs $60mo, but if you get a TV package with that, the whole deal drops to $50/mo. NOT having TV is more expensive!

      Rich people don’t know these things because they are so rich they don’t have to shop around for deals. They can afford to throw away money left and right and they assume everyone else’s cell phones and TV packages cost the same as theirs. When you are budgeting an exceedingly small amount of money per month, $10 off the cable bill and only $25/mo for phone — which does not come with a reconnect fee if payday happens to fall a few days after the phone is shut off — makes a big difference.

    • No. It’s actually $145 for 4 people for a week (taking yearly total of ($632*12=$7584)/52). And the *average* is only $112 for 4. A lot of families get even less than that. My family of 4 gets only $68 a week in SNAP benefits since the cuts in November.


      I did a whole series on this over at my blog (click my photo and check out my “SNAP” page)

  4. Some folks treat the poor like they can’t do anything or provide for themselves or family. There are exceptions to everything I suppose; get to know some and find out just how resourceful they can be. When my wife and I were in college our grocery bill ran about $20 a week. I ended up not liking Spagetti very much afterwards, but we ate just fine. Now that was in the late 60’s and prices have gone up for sure. We did not spurge, we were resourceful and planned well.

      • Exactly James. I mean you can’t expect people to be resourceful and live a meager lifestyle with meager means. We gotta blame people. Don’t you understand James? It’s not their fault. It’s all your saving and frugality and being responsible that caused this mess. Your probably close to retirement so can we cut your social security benefits please? We got people that gotta be able to buy iron man 3 on blu-ray. Don’t you understand that things have changed? You are such a moron.

    • You know we had a whole decade of double digit inflation followed by another decade of almost double digit inflation since then, right? That 20 dollars is worth almost 200 today.

      • Actually, that isn’t right. While it is true that inflation has caused the price of food to increase, according to the USDA the cost of food has dropped precipitously throughout the vast majority of the last 100 years, except during WW2. To quote the USDA:

        “America’s share of personal disposable income spent on food has declined since the mid 1940s, reflecting rising incomes and and falling inflation-adjusted food prices.”

        One dollar in 1968 is worth $6.71 today all due to inflation. (you do realize that inflation is a product of the federal reserve printing fiat money, of course you don’t)

        Anyway, that $20 in 1968 is worth $134.22 today. However, the cost of food today isn’t $134.22 for what $20 would buy in 1968, it is actually much less. Again, according to the USDA, the cost to purchase food today is about 35% less in real dollars than it was in the 60’s.

        What that adds up to is that you can purchase that same $20 worth of 1968 groceries for roughly $87.25 today.

        So, while James did spend more than what many folks today spend (my father for example, spends no more than $50 per month on food), he certainly didn’t spend the $800 a month in 2013 dollars that you claim.

        Also, because you were so adamant about something you are obviously ignorant about, I’d like to point out that there has never been a decade of double digit inflation ever in the history of the US.

        The longest period of double digit inflation was between late 1916 and mid 1920, which was then followed by another 3 years of double digit deflation.

        The next longest period of inflation was during the Jimmy Carter years, but even then it was only 2 1/2 years.

        There has been absolutely no double digit inflation since November 1981 and 2009 was actually a year of deflation .. your dollar actually gained purchasing power. Coincidentally, the cost of food in real dollars increased .2% in 2009 meaning that despite the inflation in the cost of food, your dollar went farther and you could still buy more food.

      • I would disagree with this statement. The quality of today’s food is poor compared to 50 years ago. To make it appear as if inflation hasn’t skyrocketed, food producers switch to cheaper and faster production methods. The government also gives our tax money to subsidize gentically modified crops and the growth of huge monocrops like corn. Factory farms are essentailly animal torture factories where the animals are given vaccines to keep them alive just long enough to slaughter. If you want to compare the differences in real food prices then go to Whole Foods and see how much it costs.

      • RichPoorMan – the one thing you fail to note is that the ‘basket of goods’ which is used to calculate inflation values has changed over time. This is supposed to be the apples-to-apples comparisons that lets the economists say things like “$20 in 1968 is worth $134.22 today.” But we don’t really know what it’s worth today, because the list of items the researchers bought in 1968 with their $20 included a pound of steak, and now it’s a pound of fatty ground beef (or something like that). See – they adjust the basket now and then to account for changes in consumer habits. That means that as an item becomes too expensive for most folks to afford, they don’t count that item in the basket any more, and substitute a more affordable alternative. So while maybe someone could eat reasonably well on $20 a week way back when I was a kiddo, the inflation-adjusted amount actually will not buy the same quality or quantity of food now.

      • Ok they can no longer eat steak. I don’t eat steak because it is too expensive. Look around the world and you will see few people can afford steak and many seldom eat meat. We are spoiled thinking we should have meat every day, and internet service, and cell phones and cable tv and junk food.

    • how about you and your wife (and a coupla kids), join us here in this decade, and spend a 3 months living on $20 per week worth of groceries. take into account that if your kids eat nothing but pasta, they’ll end up with diabetes and some pretty notvble developmental delays.
      when you’ve managed this task today, do come back and judge all the other people who are trying to do the same thing. until then, you might as well be saying “my pet fish can live under water, so I don’t see why my cat is having so much trouble. the cat must just not be trying hard enough. it can obviously be done if the fish is doing it.”

  5. Pingback: Poverty is more than a matter of poor decision-making « Ben Irwin

  6. I was thinking of a list similar to this one after I read the post on DR’s site. Thanks for taking the time to research and share this! It is so important for people to understand that being poor has SO much more involved then just simply personal choice. Because really, how many people would actually choose to be poor? If poor people could truly choose their way out of it – wouldn’t their be a mass exodus to the middle class?

    • I think this is where the myth of the “welfare queen” comes into the picture. There’s this pervasive notion out there that says some people refuse to work and choose to be poor so they can live large off of government welfare. In the 80s, Reagan made a speech about a “welfare queen” who got rich by scamming government welfare programs…and this image has stuck in people’s minds ever since. Only problem is, she never existed. Reagan made her up.

      You’re absolutely right, if poverty were a simple matter of choice, there would be a mass exodus…a point that I think is supported by data showing that those who CAN get off welfare do so as quickly possible…

      • There may not be millions of welfare queens but they are not a myth. You need to go in to the ghetto/projects and hang out. I lived there and there are definitely some ghettos queens. They know all the tricks to get free assistance.

  7. Nothing is a simple as it seems, but Dave is trying to educate people about the stupid things they (we all to some degree) do with money. He attacks the consumerism so prevalent in our culture. No, many poor cannot just choose to be rich, but many can more quickly get into better situations by making better decisions. We take people’s words to the extreme and set up straw men to knock down. BTW, the poor don’t pay payroll tax. Whatever is withheld is given back in a refund…sometimes more.

    • So you never received a tax refund?? Many people do, students, veterans retirees, part time workers who try to be home to take care of their kids, people with mortgages, people with disabilities.

      Federal income tax is one of many taxes, and those refund they get go right back into the economy.

      Many people get deductions. Why are those deductions bad for the poor, but when the rich want deductions it is good for everyone? Oh right, it isn’t.

      • You are confused as to what a tax refund is. It is a refund for overpaying your taxes. I could get a big refund every year if I wanted to, just by filling out my deductions to be higher. But that is basically providing the government an interest free loan so I don’t do it.

    • What? The poor don’t pay payroll tax? Are you crazy? You must mean income tax withholding. Payroll tax is Social Security and Medicare, and the poor pay a greater percentage of their income toward Social Security than your average 1 percenter.

      • Yes, you are absolutely correct … the poor pay exactly the same percentage of their income in SS Tax as the 1% does .. except the tax is capped at $113,700. For medicare, everyone pays the exact same percentage of 1.45% on every dime of income. So, the 1% pays no less as a percentage of income than those making $20k.

        The fact is Social Security is a ponzi scheme whereby you need more and more people to pay into the system to be able to pay out benefits that will exceed the total of all money put into the system. When fraudsters like Madoff and the like do it, they go to prison, when the federal government does it, people claim the rich don’t pay their fair share into the scheme.

        Social security is a sham that needs to be fixed, otherwise nobody will have it.

    • Yes. They can make better decisions, like striking until minimum wage is raised to a living wage.

      We’ll see how you get along without us for the four and a half days it takes before you cave.

  8. I’ve read through all of these comments and it is clear to me that empathy is the shortfall of the Ramsey backers here. Ramsey’s ‘Just Do This’ approach to every problem is symptomatic of a person who when they hear “Walk a mile in my shoes” responds with ‘Wouldn’t you rather walk in mine?

    • I read a letter written by a homeless kid in my community (10k people) that he left in the coffee house the other day. His letter claimed all he wanted was a chance, for someone to look him in the eye and be willing to spend time with him. I left my number and asked for the kid to call me next time he cam in as I was building a fence at my home just across the street and would be happy to pay him for a good days work and “spend time with him” in a positive way. I checked back in later and found out he had gotten my message but told the barista, ” I don’t want to help build a fence… I don’t like that kind of work” I had plans to get this kid some cloths and allow him access to the office gym and bathroom so that he could clean up and be able to interview or what not. He is the poorest of the poor but didn’t want to do any labor and therefor missed the opportunity. This has happened to me many times over the years though has also turned out differently on other occasions as well. The moral of the story it has NOTHING TO DO WITH EMPATHY!

      • Well, that may be the case. But one time I came upon a man with a “Will work for food” sign and I took him home with me and put him to work cutting my grass. It was a blistering hot day and all I have is a push reel mower but he went to work with enthusiasm.

      • “He is the poorest of the poor but didn’t want to do any labor and therefor missed the opportunity.”

        We are the poorest of the poor who say “I don’t like that kind of work” to God on a daily basis. The issue isn’t if you have empathy or not, it is whether you identify with the poor, the stiff necked, etc. and come to understand YOUR need for a savior who invites you to mend fences.

        Thanks to Jesus we get the opportunity to mend fences here on earth and in heaven.

      • one time I was waiting for the bus and a well-dressed white man made an obscene comment at me. imagine how limited my life would be, and how silly I would sound to everyone else if, every time white guys came up in conversations, I brought up this random anecdote to show how awful white people are. People probably wouldn’t take me very seriously. Go ahead and apply the same logic to what you just said.

  9. Great post. And really, one can (1) agree with Dave Ramsey’s financial advice and general individual principles and (2) realize that his particular post on the poor was short-sighted. I believe this article (and some others) pointed this out that both can be true. We live in a complex world. Dave Ramsey giving good, practical financial advice AND this post making good points about the reality of the working poor can BOTH exist in this complex world of ours. Also: there have been unfair posts attacking character, and fair posts critiquing the original list. Critique is not the same as personal attack! :-)

    • Thanks Kevin. That’s a helpful distinction. Personally, I think Dave Ramsey gives some valid financial advice. (Some of it is the same advice my dad gave me years ago, and it’s served me pretty well.) But I think his post reinforced some unfortunate (and, for the most part, inaccurate) stereotypes of the poor. And I was disappointed that he and Tim Corley made such sweeping generalizations based on surveying a few hundred people. That’s irresponsible. But you’re right: any critique should be limited to Ramsey’s content, not his personal character.

  10. This list is a wade through complete victim mentality… leaves a person stranded, powerless in victim-hood. It doesn’t matter how a person gets where they got (Unless it is a situation that has a fix that makes SENSE and empowers the INDIVIDUAL)..by others fault or their own.. The reality is the individual is the only one who can get themselves out. And some do. I guess they are just lucky? No, I don’t think they would agree with that. Nothing wrong with looking at factors..with UNBIASED research sources..and examining what we can do to encourage people. I do it for a living. I’ve been with, I have been without. Wooden spoon fed and spanked.. I love the mention of homeless vets. I am also a veteran, and I have worked with homeless vets as well. I guess we must assume that all 63,000 of the homeless vets are victims and decisions/mental illness had nothing to do with that number. I will tell you that the majority of homeless vets have unmet mental healthcare needs that 90% of the time.. on close examination, the source of the homelessness appeared disconnected from their service, and many refused help offered. (My personal experience, not a study.) I don’t think me being a vet entitles me to not fall on my face. Or special programs for me. Or extra money. If I fell down, I would not want the govt. to pick me up. I would want my fellow vets to do that. I do think ALL our politicians are liars and basically could care less when it comes to taking care of and funding care for mental wellness. A serious mental illness is NOT a decision.

  11. If you want to help the poor, you have to be so much like Jesus that people think you just might be. Seriously. Pursue people first and make such an impact on their lives that they cannot help themselves but to reach out and want what you have to offer.

    My husband and I have been on both sides of this spectrum. He was raised by a poor (in money/spirit/wisdom) mother who left her abusive husband (his father) to raise him and his brother in relative poverty. Had it not been for his aunts (her sisters), she would have lost their family home and they would have lived on the streets or passed around. I, on the other hand, had a somewhat wealthy-to-middle-class-upbringing. Though divorced, both of my parents are very wealthy, one with a high school education and the other with a doctorate. My husband and I both went to college and earned our degrees, but have found it very hard to succeed in the world.

    A few years ago we made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom and we would run our own company. Our company hasn’t always done so well, but we have made ends meet and live an extremely frugal lifestyle.

    Just this year, through a miraculous act of God, we jumped up in our wealth-status and have been so immensely blessed. Had it not been for the Lord, we would not be almost 100% debt-free. If it wasn’t for this blessing, we may never have gotten ahead in life, not matter how hard we work. We have not changed our lifestyle and do not plan to live lavishly, by any means, just because of this blessing.

    If you REALLY want to learn something about money and wealth and poverty and so on and so forth, the book/author I highly recommend is Randy Alcorn’s – Money, Possessions and Eternity!! That is what has changed our lives, hearts and perspective.

    • It is really hard for me to reconcile you belief that god is personally making sure that you and your husband make lots of money this year with Jesus’s many, many statements about the evil of wealth and his directions to shed all of your possessions.

  12. Pingback: 20 things the poor really do every day | darraghfarragher

  13. I’m so disappointed in Dave, but guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m grateful for his success, and what it has meant for many others, but I really don’t think that Jesus would have posted a list like that, and certainly not later used the language Dave did to describe people who don’t agree with him. So his view of things is paramount now?

    He’s not truly an ‘educator’, or he’d do a better job of factoring education and environment into his. Dave’s biggest flaw seems to be assuming that just because he got out of a (big) rut and succeeded, that everyone can do it. He also consistently fails to remember that he had the wherewithal to put himself in that rut in the first place. We can’t really know the capability of most of the people who: grow up in a ‘depressed’ area, and/or went to a failing school, and/or didn’t and don’t get proper nutrition and healthcare, and/or may not have a church home. While I understand that government is not the answer, and that a ‘victim’ mentality does exist, I can’t for the life of me figure why Dave thought there was any ‘love’ in that post. It would have been better for him just to take that list and put his folks to work helping to change those numbers… for example:

    6. ***63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.*** (the first part of that stat, as a teacher with 2 kids in excellent private schools, I’m not inclined to believe)

    So, then let’s collect as many non-fiction books as possible and have people volunteer their time to tutor or read them to poor kids.

    Get behind that, Ramsey. On every single “point” you made on that spurious list.

    I dare you.

  14. Reblogged this on An Amazing Woman and commented:
    Just Thinking Out Loud
    I lived as a middle class, stay at home mom for 20+ years. Was divorced and slowly removed of all my family and belongings by the local county court.
    Put in a homeless shelter one year after my husband moved into his soon to be new wife’s home.
    Spent the last year in one shelter after another due to limited housing options.
    I was disabled in a care accident in 2007, creating a list of limitations that limit my ability to ‘gainful employment’.
    I find too often the people that think its just a lazy game are the ones that are the most ‘blindered’ and ‘closeminded’ people on this earth.

  15. So the poor seek to live on $133 of food stamps per month because that is the national average. I’ll get you a dictionary so you can look up the word “supplemental” as in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, not the Complete Food Budget Program. Then there’s draconian voter ID laws, the laws that require the same ID that every state gives free. Forced to eat bad food? Those in front of me at the grocery store who pay with food stamp card are buying the same food I buy. I’m afraid I don’t see a basket full of crap food with the exception of frozen pizza, ice cream, and the sort. The rest of the stuff in their basket is food like everyone else eats. The 60 billion in housing subsidies is only a drop of what welfare is–in 2011 it was over 1 trillion. And by the way, oil companies don’t get any subsidies, they get tax write-offs which is very different from a subsidy although I’ll grant the word subsidy sounds so much more sinister when applied to those evil oil companies.

    • That ID is not free when you have to take time off work and find a way to travel to get the birth certificate social security card or other documentation. That costs money and can take many hours depending on how far you are from where you were born. It is not free to lose hours of work to wait at the DMV.

      Oil companies are making record profits, they don’t need any assistance of any kind.

      • Your ignorance of business is exactly why you would fail in business.

        The last time I checked, which was last week actually, I could get a birth certificate for free if I was on some sort of government assistance. You can get a shiny new social security card for free, just ask them for one. Now, a government ID is another story … because of the federal Real ID law, you have to prove who you are and where you live, and you have to get the ID in person. Again, if you can prove need, the ID is free in most jurisdictions. If not, then there is a nominal cost, but the ID is usually good for several years. Mine is good for 8 years.

        You are full of excuses why you can’t do something, which is exactly the reason why you don’t do anything. My mother used to tell me that “Can’t never could do anything”… if you would stop saying “I can’t” and instead say “I can”, you would do so much more.

        Find ways to do things instead of finding excuses why you cannot. That is how people bootstrap themselves.

      • You talk of ignorance?!? How ironic. Your ignorance in most matters despite your feigned knowledge, is beyond measure. Even your basic English comprehension. To wit:
        In response to “That ID is not free when you have to take time off work and find a way to travel to get the birth certificate social security card or other documentation,” you write a load of nonsense about free of charge Gov’t-sanctioned IDs. That you can not realize that that was NOT the issue, and that you COMPLETELY failed to address the O.P.’s point is astounding. Beyond that, your comments about “free” I.D. just serve to indicate that you have no idea about the actual issues involved. For instance (and just one such instance) a large number of elderly black citizens have NO birth records, because they were either born at home, or in rural, segregated hospitals that, at the time, kept no records, and/or did not submit them to the state. Without these records, while getting a birth certificate is not impossible, it is highly problematic, and can be quite time-consuming and expensive. The people affected by such issues are predominantly democratic. If you really want to contend that the same politicians pushing for voter ID laws would be doing so if the groups affected were heavily right wing, even in the face of Republican strategists caught red-handed ADMITTING this as the motivation, you are so biased as to be beyond reason (as if there were already any doubt).

      • Free is free .. and while you do pose some interesting points, there are a number of ways around those requirements as well.

        My father has no birth certificate and yet he got a government ID. My father in law also did not have a birth certificate, but yet somehow he managed to get a government ID as well.

        To assert that one must take off from work to get a government ID (free or otherwise) and that is a “cost” to them would be completely true, if it weren’t for the fact that we are talking about people who are either unemployed, underemployed or working a minimum wage job, which coincidentally is usually at a time when government offices are closed.

        There is no impediment to the masses because of having to take off work to get an ID, much less an impediment for someone who is not working or works part time.

        So, while I concede that there might be someone out there that fits the profile you have created in your mind, that is far from being the normal situation, even for minorities.

      • I don’t know who “John Gault” is but if you mean “John Galt” he is a fictional character in a book written by an atheist with a very non-Christian agenda.

    • Which states give away ID’s free, I’ve lived in numerous states and haven’t seen this yet. Just fact checking Mr. McCord.

    • Why is a tax credit not a subsidy??? If I have to pay 36% on every dollar, but the oil company that makes a 4 billion profit last quarter pays nothing, that sure as hell is a subsidy.
      And, you profoundly misunderstand the voter id laws– When a gun license is considered a fine ID but a college ID or SNAP ID are both not acceptable, the real motivation behind voter id laws becomes obvious.

    • How exactly do you know that they are paying with a Food Stamp card? How are you getting close enough to read what it says on someone else’s debit card? Also, how do you know that the EBT card is drawing on Food Stamps, and not their monthly disability or cash assistance check? And are you aware of how much cheaper it is to buy some frozen pizzas with coupons, than it is to buy vegetables? Or how much cheaper ice cream, which will stay good for months on end, than it is to keep buying bags of perishable fruit? And you’re wrong about subsidies. Look it up.

  16. Hey, wasn’t Jesus an out of work carpenter running around Galilee persuading other guys who did have jobs to quit and take up the life of hobos. I wonder what sagely advise Ramsey would have given maybe, “Get back to work you lazy undisciplined bums? And that sermon on the mount thing to put it bluntly, a bad sermon. You are really handing out some bad advice, Christ.” Ramsey certainly would not have advised these guys to thrust themselves into poverty. He probably would not have instructed these unsuccessful ones in that the truly fortunate people are those who are rich in the things that matter to God, not those who have money, power, popularity or fame. I think Gandi said it nicely, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians.” Me, I hate Kings kids.

    • Actually, nowhere in the Bible is Yoshu ben Yusef referred to as a carpenter. That said, he did not have any documented source of income, or employment, and the record is quite clear that he subsisted on the charity of others.

      • I think you mean Yeshua ben Yosef and yes, in the gospel of Mark, he explicitly stated that Jesus was a carpenter and in the gospel of Matthew, he said Jesus was the son of a carpenter.

        Aside from that, other historical and period documents indicate that the one called Jesus made yokes and plows. Now whether he did this without being paid is debatable, but the underlying assertion that he was a carpenter cannot be debated without throwing out the existing evidence.

        Apparently you are not as much of a biblical scholar as you had imagined.

      • Um, wrong. First, the “a” is a later addition. The contemporary name was Yoshu. Second, he is NOT referred to in either gospel, either explicitly OR tangentially as a “carpenter”. He is referred to in the Septuagint as “tekton”, meaning “artisan”, from which we get our word “technician”, which did not in and of itself mean carpenter, and that was in turn most likely stemmed from an attempt to incorporate the Hebrew חרש, which mean craftsman.
        Nor would it make sense that a man who was in the direct lineage of David would be a carpenter. Instead, it is far more likely that the use was akin to its figurative use in ancient Hebrew texts, to mean leaned one, or scholar.
        Similarly, NO WHERE in the Gospels is Miriam referred to as a prostitute.

      • Oh, and “existing evidence”?!? There is no “existing evidence”. There are NO contemporary accounts of his life, or any evidence at all that he existed. All references to him are after the fact, and are just as likely about the stories about his existence as they are about the existence itself. For instance Josephus.
        Similarly, most evidence points to the fact that the town or Nazareth did not even exist until several years after his supposed death.

  17. This entire situation- from Ramsey’s original list to the people debunking those who are standing up defending the poor are breaking my heart.

    We don’t know what the working poor are experiencing because for the most part they are completely voiceless. I don’t see them commenting, defending themselves. They are not on these blogs defending themselves as too many of us callously make assumptions and judgements because they are working, caring for their families, sitting on a bus for 90 minutes to take them to their first job of the day, trying to suppress the guilt that they honestly CAN NOT attend that parent teacher conference because to do so would mean being fired.

    Ride your bike to Walmart? Are you honestly kidding me? When did we become that society where it is ok to demand that the working poor suck it up and deal, while we sit and judge them? Why is it that the food stamps, Head Start, Meals on Wheels are being cut? Because the people affected are voiceless, they have absolutely no political power. These are my neighbors, my students, my brothers and sisters in Christ, too tired and without the resources to fight. A neighbor is in the business of moving stolen goods- the game is the game, and he can feed his family. I hear the example of the poor person living on food stamps with the giant flat screen, but I promise that is one in two hundred, probably more.

    Instead of coming together and figuring out WHY a family can’t make ends meet with 2 minimum wage jobs, we seek to blame them, point the finger and relish that we are not there- we are without the flaws that THEY must have, so we can separate ourselves.
    Call me a liberal, call me whatever- I’ve been accused of being an English major, egads!
    The Jesus I know and love with every ounce of my being would never create lists, seek reasons to judge and condemn.
    Thank you so much for this list- it reflects where I live, and the people I know.

      • Thanks, ellie49. It seems to me a lot of the counter-arguments I’m hearing resort to anecdote…i.e. I’ve seen some poor people behave a certain way, therefore ALL poor people behave that way. Which to me proves the point I was trying to make: we let our limited experiences, combined with our personal bias, shape our view of the poor…when the data tells a very different story.

        Actually, I’m greatly encouraged by your response and that of others like you…and by the fact that thousands of people are reading this post and (hopefully) thinking about poverty a bit differently as a result…so again, thank you.

    • You’re absolute correct, even if you believe in Jesus or not. Where is the fairness in attacking those without a voice. Some of us would rather kick a person when they are down, instead of reaching down and helping them stand.

    • Thank you~ a voice of reason. I am an educated single mom. I had a home, nice SUV, a nanny for my daughter. All needs and a few wants covered. I had 24,000.00 in savings. Then I was in a car wreck.. broke my neck, and have a TBI long story short ~ I am now homeless, struggle to survive with a 14 yr old. I am on SSDI ~ how ever I am not on any SNAP or TANF I may be down at the moment ~ however I refuse to stay here for the log run.

  18. Pingback: 20 things the poor really do every day | elkore1's Blog

  19. Way to go. The native peoples in my part of the country have a wonderful saying that until one has walked a mile in another person’s moccasins one cannot know, and must not judge. In other words, Dave Ramsey is not wrong in his own context, using the rules and assumptions that are valid in that context.

    Dave Ramsey is like most of us reading this. We have internet access, We have never needed to do without for years at a time. Dave Ramsey, like many of us, can’t imagine how it is possible that their own successful strategies do not work in every context. In the USA Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is great for people who already have food, clothing, shelter, and communications access.

    Long-term, severe poverty is a different story. I mean more than going through a scary rough patch now and then. Long-term poverty produces a chronic lack of sleep, lack of healthful nutrition, and lack of safe, adequate shelter. Poverty means lack of healthcare, lack of clothing for conditions, lack of reliable transportation, and lack of connections to the resources that make life work. Many poor have to be on the move constantly to survive. That means lacking a home address, banking privileges, and dependable relationships.

    All those “lacks” undermine a human body’s physical ability to function. That loss of function happens entirely apart from character, perseverance, desire, or any other attribute of character. It would happen us too, if we had to endure what so many endure lifetime after lifetime.

  20. I work for a county government agency and see the lines of people coming in every day to sign up for “benefits”. They can be very demanding, acting as though they “earned” this free handout. The first place new immigrants go is to the welfare office to sign up for whatever they can get their hands on. Generation after generation stay on the dole – there is no real “5 year limit”…they just move them to a different program and keep the benefits rolling. You can talk about the food stamp allotment, but you also have to remember that most of these people qualify for cash assistance, rent assistance (some pay as little as $10 a month in rent), free health care with no copays, child care assistance, earned income tax credits if they work part-time (and most get a LOT more back than what they pay in – sometimes thousands more!) People stay on the system because it is much more profitable to do that than to actually get a job. Why would you go to work if you have to start paying for these things yourself? The incentive to work is gone…it’s much easier to come in and fill out the paperwork and have everything handed to you than to provide for yourself and your family. Eventually, it will affect our social security system because there will not be enough workers to support all of the retirees; a large portion of the younger generation will be on the system themselves and not paying in to keep paying the benefits of those who worked their whole lives and earned their social security benefits. It’s interesting that there is always enough money for cable TV, fancy fingernails, cigarettes, etc. but they complain that their children don’t have enough. Some are definitely setting the wrong priorities when it comes to their children!

    • Rent subsidies are NOT available to people now days. I had an honest need (spent one year homeless with my two children) while working full time. This was because every red cent I made went to diapers, childcare, gas, food and when I was lucky a hotel room for the week. The waiting lists for the rental subsidies were 6+ years and due to that they no longer accept people to the list. HOW IS THIS HELPFUL TO THE POOR?????

      I suppose my children should suffer with earaches, sinus infections, no therapy for my special needs children, no surgery when their shunts fail, no wheelchairs, no orthotics, no immunizations, no well child check ups, no flu shots because I am not offered health insurance from my work and cannot afford to pay out of pocket even tho I work full time – that makes more sense then having the ability to have them covered minimally by health care with no copays – they don’t offer it to adults so I HAVE NO INSURANCE. My special needs daughter is on the verge of walking at 4 years old when her prognosis was wheelchair bound and vegetative. She is in school progressing well and may possibly be able to eventually have some type of job and be independent, or not. The chances that she may be a productive part of society would not have been possible AT ALL without her medical care. I suppose it makes more sense to leave a person unable to care for themselves or participate in society unless their family is already rich enough to afford the extensive care they require.

      Having special needs children in childcare while I work as a single parent (oh and by the way, my ex husband bailed after 8 years of marriage because dealing with special needs children was too much and he uses almost none of his court ordered visitation and will not assist in taking them to doctor’s appointments so I take unpaid time off to make sure they are taken care of) costs MORE THAN I MAKE IN A MONTH – so how is a person supposed to work to support their children without childcare assistance???? My family works I don’t have people who can watch them for free!

      As far as people and their feelings of entitlement – I see it daily among the middle class children and particularly among well off children who are handed whatever they want and have to do nothing for it. My children have chores and responsibilities to help me with their younger siblings and do what is expected and don’t ask for much. Apparently children having chores and responsibilities in the home are an archaic way of thinking but I would take my teenagers over any that I have met in EITHER economic class. It has to do with the way they are raised and NOT their economic class. BLAME IT ON THE PARENTS INSTEAD OF GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES! The newest generation believes they deserve what they want simply because they want it and that it should just be handed over to them. MAKE YOUR CHILDREN WORK FOR THEIR THINGS and then we shall see a change in the belief that they are entitled to anything.

      Yet again ASSUMPTIONS about poor people. I HATE that my hard work, struggles to make a good life for all my children are just lumped in with those who don’t work as hard and it is assumed I am lazy. The people I work with are NOT lazy and altho I would NEVER deny there are those who feel they can live off of government subsidies it isn’t true. Cash assistance for my family was just over $600 per month with a few hundred in food stamps. That doesn’t cover rent or utilities or gas or car insurance or car tabs not even bus fare. I found work within a few months and got off of it because it does not support a family at all. Get to work – but do it with nothing. Find a job – but do it with nothing. Not helpful suggestions. Our system is broken but pointing out the faults and blaming it on the poor is not going to fix it. Give some helpful input and work to make a change.

    • Cher- I don’t know where you live, but it sure isn’t Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina or New York. In those states, I can assure you, there is no cornucopia of benefits like you describe. I have worked with the poor in those states, in those states, the 5 year limit is real, the cash assistance is non existent, the SNAP is $240 a month or so, medicaid is ONLY for the children and the disabled- no adult males or non pregnant women qualify– I figure you must be living in some spectacularly wealthy state. Tell us, which one is it?

    • You really need a different job, Cher. Where in God’s name are you living where anyone is paying less than $10 a month? Since you hate the people your programs are designed to help, you should get a different job. One that pays a lot more and isn’t attached in any way to the government teat. It’s immoral to do work you don’t believe in or approve of. You might as well be a pole dancer. Why don’t you just get a better job? It’s so easy to find work in this country. You know, because of all those job creators having more than half the money now, and being so eager to hire everyone to do some kind of great job. 7% of the nation’s money is being shared among the bottom 40%. The poor are getting about a third of that. Gosh, we’re all gonna be so rich once we yank that 2% out of those starving peoples’ mouths….wait. No. We’re not. Assuming you earn $50,000 yr, you are paying about $5 or $6 a year towards the upkeep of the people you despise so much. I’m sure getting back that $5 or $6 a year will more than compensate you for the job you’re gonna lose when your parasitic government job is eliminated once and for all.

    • I have worked for over 20 years since, 16. I have had chronic pain since then also, and now have more and more problems with pain, it hurts to stand, sit, with the medications I have to take which I do get free from the drug manufacturers I have a hard time concentrating, also the pain makes it hard too, also can’t drive most of the time because of the medications. I have tried epidurals, facet blocks, burning of my nerves, botox for the pain, in the past, so please do not say I want this pain for this “free ride” I have.

      I do not qualify for cash assistance, rent assistance, free healthcare (medicaid–I live in Florida) since I had too much pain didn’t want to get pregnant and also could not afford them, I didn’t have children with my husband at the time. In Florida to receive Medicaid you have to have a child, be pregnant or be a non-citizen, or disabled. In 2010 I had to stop working because I fell down the stairs on my tailbone, I went thru caudal epidurals, that helped a little but still have pain, and hurts to sit. I still tried to find jobs and tried some but couldn’t work for long. I have now applied for disability, and waiting for a hearing date. The whole process can take 3 years. All I get is food stamps. Thankfully I live with my parents, which I feel terrible about. When I was working I took them out to lunch, bought them gifts, etc. I do not have cable tv, fancy fingers (never had), no pedicures for years, I do not smoke and I do not buy alcohol. Sometimes shit happens. I fell down the stairs, lost my job –because I couldn’t drive (sitting), I got a divorce, no alimony, no health insurance, and I drive a 1997 buick– and very rarely can I go anywhere. I make coffee at home, do not eat fast food (cost). I would love to know this free healthcare and cash assistance you so speak of in all of your knowledge.

      • You tell em’ girlfriend. So sorry you are suffering like this. I wish you the best. I promise to pray for you. I too suffer with pain and it keeps me from doing so many things that I really want to do. I have found things I CAN do where the pain is not so vivid. I hope you can find somethings you enjoy doing to fill you days with some happy times. God bless you and your mom and dad.

    • Yet because of them you have a job. Maybe you should change your tune and be thankful before your job because obsolete and you find yourself feeling needy.

  21. I would love to see an honest/open dialogue on this topic in a viewable forum like public TV, and suggest Dave call Tavis Smiley and book a spot on his PBS talk show to discuss this issue with he and Cornell West and ask about their findings from their poverty tour from last yr…..and then watch the sparks fly ;-0

  22. I think we’re missing a pretty big distinction here. The list is made up of (according to them) good habits of the rich…not bad habits of the poor. That would be a TOTALLY different (and also controversial) list. Whether accurate or not, what the Corley/Ramsay list claims, are things that help the rich be rich…not what keeps the poor poor.

    I do understand Ben’s concern over the “research method”, but I think the ire over the article is misplaced…at the very least, misunderstood.

    • Ramsey and Corley’s list contrasted the habits of the rich with those of the poor. Each item on their list included the percent of wealthy people who (supposedly) practiced that item and the percent of poor people who did so. So the resounding message of the post was that the poor are poor because they (supposedly) don’t do these things.

      • Had they not included the contrasting poor numbers, would you have felt the same? I realize hypotheticals are wonky…just curious.

        One thing that I find wonderful (some find it annoying) is how we view something from our own ideological lenses, and see different things. :)

      • That’s a good question. I can’t say for certain (like you said, hypotheticals are wonky)… but I think I would have. Because the implication would still be, “if you’re not rich, it’s because you don’t practice these habits.” I don’t deny that our personal habits can play a role in our financial situation; that’s not the issue for me. What bothered me was the lack of recognition that there are many other factors that contribute to someone’s financial success or hardship. Just as an example, I earn a decent living.

        By including assertions about the poor (which were poorly researched and at times tipped over into a caricature of the poor, in my opinion), I felt that Ramsey went from being not merely wrong but also unfair.

    • Well, Ramsey has closed comments to his thread and posted a sanctimonious justification for his weird list. Many of items on list are clearly wrong in their percentages– I am certain that 70% of wealth people DO NOT force their kids to volunteer 10 hours a month. My observation is that very few kids- at ANY wealth level are volunteering to that degree (note: I am fairly wealthy, have three children ages 10-22 and have been heavily involved in their schools). Not one parent I know, much less some 60% force their kids to read two nonfiction books a month (the kids all read like crazy, mostly fiction).
      But most weird in Ramsey’s statement is his biblical defense of wealth! The single most repeated message from Jesus is to stop accumulation wealth, period.

  23. I believe both lists have validity in what they say and should be understood and treated with a thought of how habits can change and how society norms can be differently approached. I didn’t read that Dave Ramsey believes that poor people are lazy in his response to the report. Him being poor has him come across as humbled. Plus, even though he’s rich and is a for profit business person, he seems to be also a giver and living a good life. I’m sure the writer of this column does too. Instead of demonizing others for viewing the negative in each other’s articles. We should look into the why’s and why nots of these articles and do our part to make changes so that everyone gets a fair shake. So, now that we got “facts”, let’s start making change.

  24. Wow, it seems like some just can’t grasp the fact that it is very difficult to get out of poverty when one is born into it. Sure there are success stories, but as a general rule, it doesn’t happen. I’ve travelled out of the country & I think that helps one to get a better prospective on social societies. We are social beings, but it seems that many are just stuck on pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and damn those who don’t make it. Seems like a selfish attitude. Many of our country’s policies could be better; in education, health, infrastructure. Why do we not have a high speed rail when Europe & China have one? Why does Italy build edifices to last for hundreds of years & then continue employing people to keep them up? We seem to do everything for a quick fix, ignoring long range goals. This capitalist society needs some tweeking to benefit all of us. Maybe if the wealthy paid their fair share, others wouldn’t be working 3 jobs.

    • 1) The cruel, Imperialistic, slave-society of Rome built those edifices I believe you refer to. Don’t think you want to go there again.

      2) We do not have a Capitalist System. [I know readers here probably care nothing for Ayn Rand, but her "Atlas Shrugs" is a great illustration of true Capitalists & the "crony" kind, along with of course the "moochers" both government & civilian.]The large corporations receive their own legislative-kickbacks/tax-welfare, etc.

      3) The entire system from top to bottom is corrupt and feeds off one another: Bigger and bigger Government to “control” the evil “Capitalists” but at the same time must feed-off them to get their “operating capital.”

      4) Capitalism doesn’t “benefit” anyone, it is merely a system that offers the freedom for individuals who will live/work with Integrity, Honesty, and CREATE with quality and dependability. There is no TWEEKING that could possibly fix this. It must be rebuilt from the ground up, starting with Liberty from the shackles of Government for all.

      Sorry for the lack of organization in this.

      • Um, actually, Capitalism benefits those with capital. Eventually, inevitably, laborers become more and more desperate as more and more capital accumulates at the top. The only hope of continuing capitalism indefinitely is to have constant redistribution to the laboring classes.

      • I feel guilty when I reblog things, but I really just am too sick and busy to write something for my own site lately. And this has to be shared. The last post I reblogged got the criminal behind the act to apologize and pay for the damage.

      • I think in many cases it is about getting a message out – this and the destroy the garden guy are vital – shine a bit of light in the corners and the rats leave

  25. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865590583/Poverty-depletes-brain-capacity-study-finds.html

    I also recall a study conducted a few years back that showed a direct correlation between people who attack others perceived as vulnerable and weaker as a means to elevate themselves, temporary alleviating the physical, emotional, mental and often sexual abuse they endured as children. I really wish I could find this because it was done within the past two years. I received little attention but said a lot about our current culture.

  26. You would need a lot to prove #5. What was actually done was you attached a link to a heavily biased study that shows that *some* poor people (with no numbers) work more hours. With that said I think neither your post, nor those of most of your detractors are balanced. It IS too hard to make a decent living in the states right now. Where we’ll probably disagree is that I believe the government’s increased involvement in fixing that is not the answer. Less government, more privatization of many things the government does. A simplified tax code. And here’s where the government can get involved, remove barriers to small business.

    • Regarding #5, above should have said “you would need a lot to prove the ‘work harder’ part of #5″. The link spoke nothing of that element.

  27. May I add to the list?

    #21: Give more to charity than the rich. Poor people give nearly twice as much as a percentage of their income.
    Documentation here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/
    Or here if you only get your news from FOX: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/04/24/poor-middle-class-and-rich-who-gives-and-who-doesnt/

    Dave Ramsey advocates tithing. Poor people, on average, come closer to doing so than rich people.

  28. I didn’t think this was a good response to Dave’s basic premise, however you did highlight some truths that people (including myself) need to hear. Too often people make insensitive and inaccurate assumptions about the poor including Christians.

  29. Hm-m-m…making “…sweeping assertions about 47 million…people in the US — all based on a survey of 361 individuals…” is WRONG when Dave Ramsey does it but a few hundred Congressmen (doing the will of their Master-in-Chief) decide for 300 million people to go ahead and WRECK/socialize-even-more the U.S. HEALTHCARE industry/system and I bet you think that’s hunky-dory.

    And as opposed to a “survey” which merely offends you, the coming healthcare implosion will actually affect you (unless you are an exempt-pet of the M-i-C), AND it was done after & over the very vocal & repeated written protests of 10’s of 1,000’s of U.S. voters.

    So don’t think “the poor” are the only ones discouraged & clearly disenfranchised by this so-called Representative Government.

    • We are getting socialized medicine? When? Cause what we got with the ACA was simply private insurance with subsidies for the poor and working classes. No matter what Fox and Rush are telling you.

  30. A sample size of 361 is actually pretty strong, especially if Corley did interviews. (I haven’t read up on his methods). There would be additional problems with the methodology if people were recruited very non-randomly (i.e., Corley talked to all his rich friends), or through other channels that would lend bias to the results. But I would say the main issue here is causality, as you mentioned, and the implication that poor people are poor because they have bad habits, not that they have bad habits because they are poor.

  31. Also need to add a grain of salt to my use of the phrase “bad” habits. A lot of the habits of the poor are pretty necessary to short-term functioning and survival.

  32. Pingback: 20 Things The Poor Really Do Every Day - Christian Forums

  33. This article was a much better handling of the situation than Evans. Though I still don’t understand why you, Evans and company insist on interpreting Dave’s “correlation” in light of his “cause” and not the other way away. If he confused the two, why not assume by “cause” he meant “correlate” (he used both words). If that is the main issue (as Amy above says), well that would suck the wind out of Evans article. And I do agree with Amy that you can’t look snarly down your nose at a sample size of 361 if that size was sampled through personal interviews (unless the cards were stacked, as it were).

    Having said all of that, this article offers a much needed balance to Dave’s. Good job.

  34. I want to focus on #10. Here is where the majority of the ‘cycle of poverty’ happens. When kids drop out of school for whatever reason they almost assuredly sign up for a lifetime of poverty. With education being free, it should be illegal to drop out of school until you have graduated from highschool. The only exception to this would be if someone was incapable of learning and then that person could be on disability. If a child is incapable of getting to school for any reason, then is that child really being raised by responsible parents? I hear statistics of some public highschools having a 25-50% drop-out rate. This is absolutely ridiculous! The reasons for this happening need to be studied and corrected. With an education you can get a job that will pay your bills and provide for your family. There are many middle class families who have two working parents and sometimes even those parents are working 2 jobs, but the bills are getting paid. Without an education there is really no hope.

    • Cheryl – I’m a huge believer in the value of education (and a strong supporter of public education) – both for personal fulfillment and gainful employment. However, a simplistic rule requiring everyone to get a diploma would do little or nothing to break the cycle of poverty. While it is true that, statistically speaking, a high school graduate in our current economy will earn more than a non-graduate, if 100% of students graduated, not all of those students would magically be better paid. The jobs available would still be split among the existing population – and there would be some other criteria to divide the people deemed qualified for entry jobs. For example, a restaurant may only hire high school graduates to wash dishes now, but if everyone was a graduate, the restaurant might only hire those with a C average. So the arbitrary “everyone must graduate” rule doesn’t actually solve the problem – it just shifts what the dividing line looks like. You are right about needing to understand why the drop-out rate is so high. Anecdotally, I can share my experience: we have 3 teenage boys – the oldest two got their GEDs instead of regular diplomas. The reasons were complex, but it happened in spite of my husband and I being regular middle class folk and very strong supporters of education (doing all the things you’re supposed to do – volunteering in the classrooms for years, encouraging voracious reading at home, following teachers recommendations to a T when they struggled with grades, etc etc etc). For kids who are not inclined (either through ability or interest) to perform well in the current academic structure, there are precious few benefits to sticking with the program. Schools no longer have the vocational programs they used to have. Music and arts programs are almost non-existent. These things helped keep some marginal kids in school, and prepared them for jobs upon graduation. No Child Left Behind (and now Common Core) have been the death of those programs. College has become so expensive that unless you are going into a specific profession (law, medicine, engineering), the financial payoff is no longer guaranteed. Our educational systems need an overhaul for sure, but we have an economy with serious systemic problems, and the growing gap between the rich and the poor (with the middle class sliding more and more to the poor edge) won’t be solved by requiring a diploma.

      • Thank you for your comments. The only thing I would like to add is that music and are art may keep kids in school and make them more well rounded but will probably not help them get employment.

  35. As a Christian it’s so hurtful to see the judgement and lack of compassion heaped on the poor. How, why, or when they got there is not really my concern nor my judgement to make. Imagine if those qualifiers were placed on US in order to receive Christ’s love and forgiveness? I’d rather err on the side of grace. Thanks for the post.

    • Andi, I do agree with your sentiment. However, if we want to improve conditions for the poor and not create a larger poverty base, we do need to look at ways to make things a ‘hand-up’ vs simply a ‘hand-out’. A hand-out is a temporary solution to a long term issue, a hand-up can be a method of change. At the same time, our nation is spinning out of control in terms of the vast gulf between the rich and poor. The person in the 70th percentile for wealth is far closer to those in poverty than they are to the top 1%.

  36. You chose to rail against voter ID laws as a poverty point? You lost a lot of credibility in your otherwise useful list when you chose that as a point, especially when calling them draconian. Do you even know what that word means, or were you trying to make the idea sound much than it actually is?

  37. As a mother living in poverty, none of these are accurate, at least for our family. My husband works 40 hours a week. On days off, our family often drives around town, visiting stores, and letting our children play with the toys there. Because we have food stamps, we can afford gas to go on drives around our town in the evenings together. We watch movies together in our living room and make popcorn. We play together in our back yard, and garden with tools we bought from our tax returns. We are poor, but because we have each other, we are neither destitute nor unhappy.

  38. Pingback: ‘The rich rule over the poor’: Ramsey’s II, challenging Pharaoh

  39. Although not everyone on welfare has loads children to stay on welfare, there are many that do. I live in a small community of 2000 people, and I have three people on my block alone who I know for a fact have 5+ children and refused to work. While I put myself through my senior year of college barely getting by and paying my own way. This article may have truth, but it doesn’t apple to the entire population.

      • You’re my new hero. . . Thanks for defending those of us that work our butts off day in and day out to earn $43,000…1/3 goes to rent, 1/3 goes to child care and 1/3 goes to medical expenses for my special needs child…Who pays the utilities and food? Certainly not government. Despite my status as a single mother of 2, one with special needs; 1 baby-daddy that doesn’t believe in child support and the other whose parental rights were terminate so he doesn’t have to pay for his child, I am not eligible for ANY benefits, not even a child care subsidy…

        BTW, I took Dave Ramsay’s classes…Can’t save when you have to borrow to live…and a little side note, I do NOT have credit card debt…

      • Thanks Staci. It’s an honor to speak up for families like yours. Also, you make such a good point about Ramsey’s classes: can’t save what you don’t have. If we want people to live within their means, we have work to do to make sure they can a decent wage in the first place…

      • Having children is work. I personally think most jobs are easier than raising multiple kids.

        Birth control does not always work so should we get the poor sterilized? Or should we force them to have abortions?

        God tells us to have children. For some people, this is a religious tenet. God promises to provide for our children. God has provided for them, we just aren’t satisfied with the method.

  40. I am disgusted by these people’s comments blaming the poor. Oh! they say, I work hard and I don’t like subsidizing the poor, who are poor because of their own bad habits. For one, there may come a day when you need help, and with this attitude it most likely won’t be there when you need it. Nobody gets rich off of welfare. Sure, there are some scammers, but it’s really hard these days to commit welfare fraud. A recent study found (look it up for yourselves, since you’re so smart) that the incidence of fraud among food stamp recipients was 2%. The incidence of fraud among businesses who receive agricultural subsidies from the USDA (which administers both programs) was on the order of about 45%. So all you people bitching about the poor people you subsidize, you are kicking down. Corporate welfare and fraud dwarf the amounts of money spend on programs to help poor people. GE paid no income tax! Stop being so stupid, small minded and brain washed. Why do corporations need welfare anyway? They can’t make it without help? Start thinking about this, please. The American Dream is dead. The ladder was pulled up and they are coming to steal everything. They will not be happy until we are living in cardboard boxes and dumpster diving for food. It will be your formerly middle class children who will be living that life. Focus on what’s important and that is the corporate takeover of our government. When that is addressed, I’ll take claims of welfare fraud more seriously. It wasn’t poor people who crashed the economy. The parasite class did that and made us the taxpayers pay for it! Nobody went to jail. Remember that. There’s one set of rules for the rich and another for everybody else. You want change? Change that!

    • Wow. You are the first commenter that seems to have a grasp on reality.

      Criminals in government are sucking every last bit of wealth out of this country. You can’t live off the land, you can’t grow crops in your yard, you can’t build your own house, you can’t collect rain water, you can’t go fishing or hunting, you can’t do anything without paying a fee and getting a permission from corrupt bureaucrats. We are screwed from the moment we are born. Each year new regulations are silently added to the books, taxes are raised, and agreements are made in smoky rooms that ensure the remainder of America jobs will soon be shipped overseas. Our economy has been intentionally destroyed and those lucky enough to have a stable income point the finger at the poor.

      There are only 3 things we need to do to tackle the poverty issue:

      1. End the Federal Reserve. Have the U.S. print its own money.

      2. Abolish the income tax.

      3. Throw out every one of the millions of laws and regulations that paralyze economic growth and shut down American jobs.

      Freedom will bring so much wealth into America that the quality of life for any working person will far surpass that of a person subsisting on government handouts. Only the truly needy will remain on the government dole.

      The system was rigged from the start. It took international banking conglomerates 100 years to implement each necessary step that would allow the complete destruction of America. The same processes have been use to take down hundreds of countries before, but the people are too blind to see. They stare into their televisions, worshiping professional liars and bought-and-paid for politicians, only seeking to advance their own interests. By the time they realize we may be too far down the rabbit hole. So do a little research about the current state of the world and give food to those in need while you still can.

      • So would those regulations include environmental, workplace safety, etc.?

        Hungry for the days of the robber barons, are we?

    • I’ve been reading these comments for over an hour and you’re the first person to actually state reality!
      Most of these people seem to just be parrotting talking points from their brain-washing box.
      What is taking place in this country is a very obvious agenda and it’s all by design.

  41. Ramsey’s list is not about the poor at all; it is about the middle and upper class and habits that supposedly will help them move up the social ranks and make more money. He is not saying “the poor are poor because they don’t do this,” but instead he is saying, “you should do this, or you’ll become poor! Don’t become poor, do these things and make more money!”

    You see, it has nothing to do with the poor. Ramsey doesn’t expect the poor to engage in these healthy habits; he expects the middle class to engage in them, and uses shaming (you don’t want to be like the poor, do you?) to encourage those habits.

  42. “Try to make $133 worth of food last a whole month.”

    Misleading, to say the least. That means a family of four gets over $530 (and it’s a lot easier to cook a meal for four for $12 than a meal for one for $3). Plus, there are TWENTY-SIX different federal food assistance programs, not just food stamps. That $530 goes farther when the youngest kids are also getting WIC, the older ones are getting free school lunches, etc., etc., etc.

    “60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time.”

    Which means a full 40% of children in poverty do NOT have a parent who works full time.

    “In fact, the bottom 20% of earners pay TWICE as much in taxes (as a share of their income) as do the top 1%.”

    A ridiculous comparison, to begin with – comparing the outlying top 1% of ANYTHING (especially in a distribution limited at the bottom end) to any other group is deliberately misleading. As is talking about a share of the poor’s “income”. A typical welfare family’s sustenance generally isn’t COUNTED as income. Much has been made of the claim that things like food stamps life a family above the poverty line – whether that’s true or not, food stamps don’t count as INCOME. Neither do Section 8 housing assistance or Medicaid premiums. A family of three might only have an INCOME of around $5,000, but their total assistance package, what keeps them fed, housed, and healthy, adds up to many times that amount. The paltry few hundred dollars they pay in taxes looks like a larger percentage of their CASH income, but is a minuscule portion of what they actually receive. Not to mention all the user fees that aren’t considered taxes in name only paid by everyone but the poor – school lunches, enrollment fees, book fees, bus fees, that everyone else pays and they have waived.

    “Those earning less than $12,000 a year are twice as likely to report feeling physical pain on any given day.”

    Now who’s trying to imply causation from a correlation? (Same with the lifespan gap, incidentally.)

    “Despite the odds, the vast majority of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls within five years.”

    Then again, they DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. What they WANT or are “desperate for” is ridiculous to even theorize, and is nothing more than conjecture on your part.

    “Only a third of low-income voters identify as Democrats, about the same for all Americans, including wealthy voters.”

    Wow. Seriously? First of all, while the same percentage of poor people IDENTIFY as Democrats as the general public, there are SUBSTANTIALLY fewer poor people who IDENTIFY as Republicans – just many more who CLAIM to be Independents. However, in the 2008 election, almost 60% of those making $30K or less voted for Obama in 2008, and over 70% of those making less than $15K. It doesn’t matter what party they IDENTIFY themselves with, what matters is how they VOTE.

    Sorry, Ben, but your article is nothing more than a biased opinion piece, and words like “research” are laughably out of place.

    • Where on earth are you getting an income of $5000 for a family of three? Is that poor in your world? One person earning minimum wage, working full time, only makes 1,160 a month, gross. I would be willing to bet that’s less than many of your (those people screaming about those darn lazy poor leeches) mortgages. Get a grip on your own privilege, and maybe spend some time with people in poverty, then your criticisms *might* hold some validity.

      • Um – that’s $5000 per YEAR for a family of three, about what the normal amount of TANF comes out to. And besides the fact that my entire career has been spent working with people that didn’t even have that, AND that my family has lived on that much, child – I wasn’t whining that anybody owed me anything more. But thanks for playing anyway.

  43. I meditate, and these habits are ABSOLUTELY the reason they stay poor. It’s unfortunate and can be tough, but you must live “As Though.” Yup, the ole “fake it until you make it” routine. That is if you want to find the “way.” And meditation attitudes thought or spoken whenever anything is noticed will quickly put you headed in the OPPOSITE direction, i.e. poor to rich, sick to well, etc. This isn’t an opinion folks, this is a fact. You have to think and live as much as you can like you ALREADY have money, health, whatever, in order to get it. So get busy being thankful. Gratitude will get you anything!!!

    • People have been trashing my comments on this blog and generally making comments about how you have to live like a poor person to know what they are dealing with.

      I have lived it, but I live it no more … I owe it all to that evil evil man Dave Ramsey.

      I am living proof of that bootstrap method of pulling ones self out of poverty.

      Do I feel sorry for the poor? Yes.
      Do I believe that the vast majority of poor folks can get out of their poverty lifestyle? Yes.
      Can they do it on their own? Some can, most cannot.

      I help as many people as I can, and yet I am continually berated by ignorant folks who claim my view from an ivory tower somehow disqualifies me from making a judgement about why a person continues in a life of poverty when they could change their lot in life with some reasoned changes in their lifestyle.

      I know from experience that it isn’t easy to live in poverty, but it is much easier than changing your way of life to get out of poverty.

      Incidentally, poverty is a function of household income based on the number of people in the household. The government makes no distinction between those with poverty wages with no assets and those with poverty wages with lots of assets. I have a brother in law with 650 acres of land and 3 houses. His monthly income is $745. He spends more time traveling than anyone I know. If you were to ask him, he would tell you right quick that money doesn’t make you happy and things don’t make you happy. Living life makes you happy … and he is a very happy man.

      • This is a great comment. My husband comes from India, and they do not have ANY programs like we have in the United States. He worked HARD to even get to the United States and he was only allowed to work 20 hours per week at college. And yet, he has done exactly what everyone here is saying is impossible. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps, got a Master’s degree with a combination of student loans (which almost everyone can qualify for) and scholarships (mostly through the school) and now we are doing pretty well…But that is after SEVEN years of hard work to get as highly educated as he could. And I was working 10 to 12 hours per day (roughly 6 days per week most of the time) until he got the job where he is currently working.

        Habits and behavior are important. What you do with your money is essential. In this country, it IS possible to reach any financial goal….but you have to start somewhere and Dave Ramsey gives some excellent advice on where to start. Good comment and great points.

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  45. Having worked as a community developer in the inner city, I have to add that it’s far more discouraging than this report. Once a hard working person loses their job in this economy, they fall into a downward spiral that is nearly impossible to climb out of. Without an income, the first thing to go is your housing, then your car, then your phone and internet. With all of the libraries closing and public transportation so expensive, it becomes overwhelming. How can someone who is dirty, has no resume or a phone, get a job? Any of you who doubt this are welcome to go undercover for just one week and try to get a job, housing, phone, car etc. When you have lost your foot hold in our culture, you had better have generous friends and family or it’s OVER for you. I DARE you to give it a try. Let’s see how judgmental you after just one torturous week of walking in their shoes.

    • It happens, and sadly it happens in exactly the order you describe. I don’t live in an urban area and I didn’t have a car for a long time, and yet I still managed to find a way to walk to and from work every day.

      As a son of a sharecropper whose parents worked long hard days picking cotton for a paltry existence, I can say with absolute certainty that there is absolutely no excuse for a person being dirty.

  46. I can’t help but feel that if the original Ramsey blog had presented its data more sensitively, it would have been a more nuanced debate from the outset. For all of those statistics (regardless of how exact they are) it is worth asking, why? Aspiration, hope, and opportunity are going to be reoccuring themes here. His words about overcoming fatalism are valid, but we need to do that by helping, not condemning each other. There are things people do if they see no point and want to escape from the misery of their lives. Those original stats suggest there are ways of thinking and feeling that are a lot easier if you are well off. I suspect having that attitude is a great help. What it comes down to though, is this… do we want to try and understand and help those who are struggling, or do we want to blame them and shrug off all responsibility? So long as poverty is deemed the failure of the poor, and so long as being rich is taken to be an indication of being a good person, we won’t ask the questions we need to about homeless service people, access to books and education, and poverty of hope.

  47. I do agree with some of these findings but not all. I know there are a lot of people in this world that are poor not because they want to be but because no matter how hard they try by working multiple jobs, trying to save, their finances never get any better. I know first hand of this. I have always worked two jobs, raised my two daughters by myself, tryed to go to college to get a better job. But there are some people in this world who do continue to have children, to stay on the state assistance programs, go to college, to get the funding from the goverment and get one degree then continue on for another and never get a job doing what it is they got the degree for. They like the money they receive and do not have to play back.

  48. the victim mentality indeed . not my fault not my fault not my fault
    It is my location,my upbringing,my family,my spouse,my whatever
    grow up, dress up show up and WORK . I have been truly dirt poor in a rural area with no future employment other than min wage ag jobs ( back when min wage was $1.50 if you were lucky I hauled lots of hay for .01 cents a bale ) . But I knew how to WORK I took multiple jobs and saved what I could . i made time to go to the local Library ( 15 miles away ) and read everything I could on improving my lot in life . I ate lots of ramen and spam . when my jobs got better i did not spend my money on women and beer like my compatriots . I saved and I learned to invest I bougfht hooptie cars I could pay cash for and now many years later ( with the help of info from folks like Ramsey ) I am not rich but what I have is paid for and I am comfortable My kids are going to nice schools
    are many of the behaviors of the poor due to poverty … yes but habits habits are what YOU make them

    • Were any of those books you checked out from the library focused on using proper grammar, syntax, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling? Asking for a friend!

    • You are literally describing an entirely different work environment than the one people face today. There simply AREN’T jobs where you can show up and be given bales of hay to haul. Many of those jobs have been automated, or outsourced. McDonald’s is turning down applicants.

      The cost of living has grown more than the minimum wage- more than a lot of non-minimum wages, even. Utility costs have risen and more utilities are becoming functional necessities as people assume everyone has a car, internet access, a phone, etc.

      • I don’t know where you live, but a quick check of the local jobs board in my community shows more than 1000 job listings. This is a community of less than 60,000 yet we still have folks complaining they cannot find a job. I think many of them simply don’t want a job.

      • Just because the job is available doesn’t mean the employer wants to hire anyone who walks in. My husband went on dozens of interviews, he is highly skilled and well spoken, but I believe they would not hire him because he had to college degree. Unfortunately, the poor often do not have an opportunity to go to college until they have a family to support. So now we are desperately trying to pay bills while he goes to school full time. We have never had credit card debt, but now have to use a charge card to get to and from school and look for jobs.

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  50. Census poverty rate is 12% yet, 22% of children live in poverty. http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/. How is it possible given you assert the poor average the same number of chilren as everyone else? By the way, as a statistician, having a relatively low sample does not “fail research methods 101″ if it is a stratified random sample. National nightly election stats every four years are based on less than n=361. While I am sympathetic to abest, more fair examination of the life of the poor, I find the ignorant haughty tone insufferable.

    • Inconvenient facts … any survey of poor people wouldn’t satisfy their strict guidelines unless you asked every poor person in the country, and then even if you did they would find some other reason to discount the data.

      I live in a data world. Trends can be easily discerned from very small samples provided the samples are gathered correctly, especially if the results are able to be duplicated.

      I find the vast majority of the comments here simple bloviating by ignorant folks.

      • You may live in a data world, but you clearly don’t have the first idea what any of it means. Your reliance on anecdote as if it were data, your clear lack of understanding in basic statistical methods, and your reliance on memes instead of research all make clear your positions as NOT based on data.
        As to “inconvenient facts”, what would those be. You haven’t posted any, at least none that are relevant to the topic.

      • anecdote – Noun; A short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person

        Incidentally, the plural of anecdote IS data.

    • First, how is it possible? Because the average number of children per couple is greater than unity.
      Second, you need to retake stats. A stratified random sample only gives reliable, statistically significant results if the sample size in each strata is random and large enough to meet statistical criteria.
      Third, your assertion that n<361 in national election polls is pure and utter nonsense.

  51. Leaving aside the holes in several of these claims, I’ve never seen anything as inaccurate as #18. I work in a welfare office and don’t even know where to begin hacking that one apart. Wrong, wrong, wrong in every way on so many counts. First, it is not true (despite the alleged “proof” of a misleading government statistic) that “most” enroll in vocational training. Second, less than a quarter of those who do actually COMPLETE the training. I don’t know what the purpose of this article is, but if it’s to generate sympathy and make us resent income redistribution less, lying to our faces is not the way to go about it. Don’t even get me started on the claims of “the vast majority” leaving the welfare rolls in five years.

    Finally, no, the poor do NOT pay “more than their share” in taxes. It’s the middle class who does, and the rich are taxed at a disproportionally high rate. The author’s misleading method of illustrating tax liability has been used by poverty pimps for years, but it only works on those who have no real understanding of the issue.

    • Why would you “leave aside the holes in several of these claims”? Could it be because that’s your only choice? Because you don’t know what you’re talking about?

      Look, take this list as a whole and read between the lines: It’s fucking shitty and terrible and hard to be really poor in America—as 47 million of your neighbors are. It’s almost impossible to claw your way out of poverty.

      Why not show some compassion instead of being an elitist?

      • Or maybe it’s because if the author is going to cherry pick (from inaccurate/misleading data at that), only a certain point or two stands out as being the most deserving of disputing? STBE picked one that they apparently know a lot about, firsthand. I addressed a few of them that I knew a few things about. Your own response was … what, again? “Nuh-uh!”???

      • Your comments are laughable. To assert that 47 million Americans are really poor shows how you do not understand the term, nor do you understand the relationship of individual income vs family income vs assets.

        I have a very good friend of mine who is one of those 47 million you so proudly point out. He earns just over $1400 a month. He would tell you how wrong you are about his shitty lifestyle.

      • Brian Hughes, do you think it has escaped anyone’s notice that you make these assertions but even after having called out the O.P. for failing to back up his baseless claims with ANY sort of citation of empirical evidence, you nonetheless fail yourself to do so.
        As to knowing a lot about things, I have seen no evidence that either of you know much about much of anything.
        As to your cute throwing in of the straw man argument at the end of your response, well, not only did not fail to accurately reflect the comment to which you are replying, you failed to even address its minor points, let alone the comment as a hole.

  52. Wow, what a great response. I hope everyone involved is really listening. There are some stupid points by both sides, but there are some very valid points by both sides, too.

    Many people who dislike Ramsey’s post do so because they are judging his intentions as to slam the poor. Some will choose to blame Ramsey for “hurtful” points. Other will choose to blame the person who doesn’t receive the message as stubborn or unwilling to change.

    I mentioned prices of some foods as examples of healthy alternatives. One person responded saying that in urban poor areas (aka “food deserts”) these prices cannot be had. True, but I did qualify what I said with “in most areas.” I don’t live in a wealthy area — I live in a small town whose residents have a low median income. My daughter’s elementary school is a Title I school, and 58% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

    I can’t speak about the poor in your neighborhood, but I know plenty of poor in my area. As much as I would love to help the people in your neighborhood, there is little chance I can do anything (directly at least) to help people in your neighborhood. I can, however, help people in my area.

    It’s true that not EVERY recommendation will be achievable by every person. It’s funny how the arguments against Ramsey’s list are all over the place. On one hand, the poor are working two or three jobs without even an hour between jobs to cook a chicken breast and slap it between two pieces of toast. On the other hand, the poor are eating on only $145 a month. It’s highly doubtful there are many people who fall on BOTH of those hands.

    It seems the biggest argument against Ramsey’s list isn’t in the merit of the items in the list, but writing the items off as unattainable. Perhaps his biggest mistake was in not communicating his intentions. I haven’t listened to his show in years, but I remember one of his signature items is the “Debt snowball.” He encourages listeners to pick the smallest balance debt and attack it first while keeping their head above water on the others. Then when you get the one debt cleared up you go to the next, applying the money you save from not paying the first payment to paying down the 2nd.

    My point is that probably few people will be able to do all the items on his list. I doubt that was his point. I think the point is to encourage people to make changes where they can with the resources they have. People may be able to improve in that one area, and graduate to yet another.

    I also know from listening to him he encourages his listeners to give. Isn’t that a good goal — to succeed so that one can help his/her brother/sister?

    • Sadly some people don’t want a way out, they want a handout.

      I tried to help a friend of mine get his finances in order many times, but he continues to pay “stupid tax” because it is easier than doing without.

      Once upon a time, I spent nearly 40% of my income in “stupid tax” … with two children and a wife who was unable to work, we were the quintessential “poor family”.

      Dave Ramsey showed me that I could make a $100k shift in my financial situation by doing some small things now so later I could enjoy the big things. I am debt free and loving life.

      I do not feel guilty one bit and the pity I feel for poor folks is that they are too blind to see that they too can change their lot in life if they would simply listen to the folks that have done it.

      I am always willing to help folks, and I have helped a great number of folks, but it was through counseling and guidance, not by giving them something just because they were poor.

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  54. I took a quick little “jaunt” through the comments. In just the few I read, I was whisked away on a time-machine, back to days of yore when the voice of God was the voice of the Church, and the Church was pissed!! Have I underestimated the present?! Your blog entry is not only a kind and gentle one, it makes me glad and humbled to be alive in a day when some of us see Jesus…really!! The poor and the needy have no qualifying sheet to fill out with the man who said he loves them, before he (us?) can reach out to touch them. The sound of anger, of righteous indignation, is hauntingly familiar to me-I once made quite a sound myself. But my life is a simpler one now…and Love is the reason, the thread, and the truth. I will choose to do the foolish thing over the correct theological (and political?) one every time…I hope.

  55. Why doesn’t Ramsey delve into a month-long ‘experiment’ in urban, suburban & rural economically depressed loctions for a few weeks, to live amongst the singles, families, sick/ diminished, & raise the poor up on his plans, and prove ‘it can be done’. Have an independent filmmaker document it (with impunity).
    It would make or break the panacea of his products. It’d make -great- viewing..
    or get a few others, and make it a contest, like combining Trump’s show, Shark Tank, Biggest Loser and Secret Millionaire, but have successful people raise up the poor by ‘coaching’ them out of poverty, or into stability/ self-sustaining..

    • Because you obviously have never listened to him, otherwise you would now that at one time, the man had a fortune that he lost. He lived hand to mouth, no car, no house, and no income with a wife and kids to support. He has lived it, you are just to stupid to realize it.

      • Ah, I see. The stupid man had a single typographical error in one of a myriad of posts. I suppose I have to own that one, Mr Grammar Nazi.

  56. I recall a kid a knew when I was younger whose mom had a surprising reaction when she learned her son was promoted into the academically demanding curriculum at school. She marched up to the school and shared her indignation with the principal and her son’s teachers, giving them all the reasons why her son couldn’t POSSIBLY do this, and he just isn’t CAPABLE of doing that. And how they just don’t understand her son’s situation, so forth and so on.

    Who knows? Maybe the mother was correct. But I remember what a blow it was to that kid’s self esteem. So many posts sound like my friend’s mom. Why not encourage people to TRY and do the things on this list? Maybe instead of attacking the messenger, we can help support your local YMCA’s scholarship program so people without means can go use the facilities? Stop finding reasons people are GOING TO fail, and let’s pitch in and encourage people so they can make improvements.

  57. Chris doesn’t have his facts straight. you can NOT buy alcohol and tobacco with food stamp money!! I’ve been on food stamps, and while I never tried to buy alcohol or tobacco, I did have to buy food and it was never enough money. I was a single mother with 4 kids and I got barely $500 Of food stamps money. I still had to work really hard to cover the rest of our food budget and all of our other bills like rent and utilities ….And the car to drive and gas. When my paycheck didn’t cover those things, I still had to look To churches and food banks to make up the difference. I received no child support from their father. Being poor is a lesson in humility every single day and you work your ass off to get away from it. so those of you who don’t know what you’re talking about shouldn’t be speaking on the subject.

      • Wow, what an enormously douchey comment. You don’t know her story, dude. She had those kids with someone who is no longer with her. If they’re Catholic or Christian they’re encouraged to not use birth control. Ridiculous to me, but religion is religion. No one predicts they’re going to be a single parent when they’re planning their wedding or they wouldn’t get married/have kids in the first place.

        What do you suggest society do to limit the number of children born each day? Who gets to be in charge of who gets to “squat out” how many? I personally believe people SHOULD limit the number of children they have, but luckily society isn’t made up of a bunch of me clones. In the meantime, mix a little compassion in with your self-righteousness. And use your snarkiness for good, not evil. Wit is an endangered species nowadays and you’re using yours irresponsibly.

    • Wow, $500 is not enough for a family of four huh. We are an upper middle class family and a family of four and we budget $600/month for food. None of us are close to starving and we eat good healthy meals. The additional $100 we spend could be cut without much effort. It would mean buying lettuce rather than salad mix, it would mean not buying the bag of Doritos, it wouldn’t mean I would barely survive.

    • Ok, the problem I see is why did the kids’ father not pay any child support? That sounds like the real cause of your difficulties. It sounds like you have improved your situation since that time, congratulations. Maybe you could share how you climbed out of the hole you were in?

    • You are right, but I know many that simply work it other ways .. for example, I know one man who goes to his neighbors and says he will go buy their groceries for them .. you know, ’cause he is a nice guy. He uses his SNAP benefits to buy his neighbors food, the neighbor then reimburses him with cash and guess what, he buys booze with the cash. He doesn’t smoke so no smokes for him.

      Despite being turned in for fraud he still gets benefits and still does the same thing.

      Please explain to me how he needs those SNAP benefits again.

  58. This post covers a lot of territory, and there are lots of others from my own experience:

    For example:

    Collecting cans and bottles for the gas money to go to the next job interview, selling one’s blood plasma twice a week, cruising trash day for household furnishings, feeding your child out of the dumpster behind supermarkets, living without electricity for months at a time, living without heat or water ditto, raiding the piles of donated items left unprotected outside of the Goodwill box, bringing your child to happy hour at the Holiday Inn, where buying a soft drink would give access to an appetizer buffet, trading food stamps for childcare in order to be able to interview for jobs, spending decades on waiting lists for affordable housing, and in the mean time, moving, moving, moving,. and …

    Well, it goes on and on.

    • You know what, I was once in the exact situation you describe … I’ve done it all, except of course committing foodstamp fraud, and guess what, I don’t feel sorry for people who continue to live that lifestyle when it is wholly possible to get out.

  59. Some of these comments are so infuriating. Yeah, there are some poor who try to screw the system and are lazy bastards but guess what, there are rich who screw the system every single day too and make some pretty poor decisions.
    Some of the things that make no sense are people bitching about how one parent may only work part time or stay at home. My daughters preschool/daycare costs $1200 a month and then the sitter who picks her up until I get out of work is another $1000 a month. That’s $2200!! Two parents working at minimum wage wouldn’t be able to afford that. It’s way cheaper to have one parent stay at home with the kids or only work part time.
    Then people saying they spend $110 a month on groceries for their family? Really? What, do they bake their own bread and grow their own veggies? Must be nice! My family of 3 spends about $100/$130 a week so that I can make well rounded, healthy meals. I live in a big city, I can’t grow anything and everything costs, costs, costs way more than other towns.
    I live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t want to be poor. I’m not poverty level poor I don’t think because I am able to pay my rent and bills and buy what I need to live and go on a little vacation every year. I don’t use credit at all! I refuse to dig myself into that hole. I’m a single mom. I was an orphan. I have no diploma or college education. I do have a good job though.
    I guess statistically I should be living in a trailer being beaten by my boyfriend, doing drugs and not working with multiple kids by different dads. I say F*%k the statistics.

    I’m not sure what my point is. I guess I just get mad how people think “rich and poor” is so black and white. Poor people differ. Rich people differ. They all have their own stories and reasons for being in the life that they lead. No amount of research or bitching or stereotyping is going to peg everyone into one nice category.
    Just f’ing respect people. Whoever they are.

    • $110/month for food for a family of three =
      $3.66/day for food for a family of three =
      $1.22/meal for a family of three =
      $0.41 per meal per person

      I call a hearty “bullshit!”

    • “Then people saying they spend $110 a month on groceries for their family? Really? ”

      I believe the article says people on food stamps average 133 PER PERSON. And as I mentioned in my earlier comment, food stamps are only one of TWENTY-SIX federal food assistance programs.

      • Brian, not sure I was talking about your post. Unless you’re the teacher who makes 42k a year.

    • The system should err on the side of generosity. It’s better that the occasional freeloader does foolish things with their welfare check than we scrutinize it so closely that people in genuine need are denied aid because someone notices the widescreen TV they were given as a gift…

  60. All this talk about “The Poor” as if “they” are not “we” Unfortunate events or unforeseen catastrophes over which none of us have direct control, could bring you or me, or anyone of “us” into this category; at least financially. Could someone please define “POOR” please?! What does this really mean? In my life I have known many “poor” wealthy people but many more rich “poor” people. I don’t believe that a dollar figure can define either term. And, what about those of us who make life decisions outside of the financial realm. Those of us for whom money is never the object, richness is. Yes, I have to be careful about financial expenditures and certainly do not consider myself to be defined as a “consumer”, thank goodness! I am, at least according to the government, considered “poor”. But I consider myself wealthy in all the ways that are important.

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  62. Bravo, Ben. This is important information to remind us of, and it should be re-run every few weeks.

    As to the commenters here who have a general “no pity, no compassion, pull yourself up by your bootstraps” attitude: You are a shameful blight on this otherwise lovely country. To suggest that the 47 million Americans who are living in poverty are somehow deficient as human beings, who are just lazy and stupid—-it’s wrong, just simply flat out wrong. (As Ben so expertly points out above.)

    The federal government is a wholly owned subsidiary of enormous multinational corporations, who use the government to rig the game in their favor—to make more money for a very select few, all on the backs (and lives and wallets) of 98% of our population. If you think that’s not true, if you think that Wal-Mart is a fantastic institution because they create jobs and help lower prices, then you’re either willfully naive or you value all the wrong things.

    Let’s help out our neighbors, and let’s—let’s ALL of us—do everything in our power (what little of it remains) to fight the system that has put us in this dire, shameful situation.

  63. This list is really interesting and goes along way in explaining the way some people get trapped in a delusional pattern of thinking. The bottom line here is this: Teach your children HOW to THINK. Otherwise they will certainly be told to WHAT to THINK and then things like the 20 rather comical items that appear on this list will “seem to make sense”, (which for far too many is good enough to be accepted as “fact”, sadly) because they will not have the cerebral capacity to counter each point with a valid, well thought out response and thereby be rendered defenseless in intellectual endeavors.

    • Translation of Nathan Solla’s comment: “I think everyone who doesn’t agree with me is stupid, but instead of actually engaging people in conversation and risking finding out that other people are smart too, I just use lots of big words. I’m arrogant and kind of an ass, but I hope no one notices.”

      • If you would lean in and listen for even five minutes, I would happily engage you in conversation. But we both know you’ve already made up your mind based, not on your own research, but upon the opinions of others. I encourage you to take the time to challenge everything you believe, EVERYTHING. Research it to the core. Follow the money. Check and double check the facts. No, I said FACTS! That’s what I did – and it changed my life forever. Until I had done that, I was simply not qualified to prattle on about my own opinion. Indeed it was not my own but owned by others. Neither are you qualified until you’ve done that. Otherwise you’ll be just like the other mindless hacks regurgitating flawed doctrines under the pretenses of “open mindedness” while the truth, by its very definition, is that you don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

      • “Translation of Nathan Solla’s comment:”

        Translation of ‘Me’s comment: I can’t think of any argument so I’ll just attack him personally. And in the effort, prove his point about people who disagree with him being stupid …

      • In order for me to counter his argument, he’d have to make one first – which he didn’t. Besides, what’s the point? Nathan, and people like Nathan, choose to refuse to see anyone else’s point of view and assume that anyone who does not see the world precisely as they do is either uneducated, illogical, or stupid. It would be more productive to argue with a wall. The wall would be less intractable. That sort of black-and-white dogmatic approach is a pretty intellectually immature way to engage the world, but that’s each individual’s prerogative.

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  65. “If you spend your entire childhood in poverty, you are 5 times less likely to graduate. Which means your future has been all but decided for you.”

    Didn’t you just say something about correlation does not mean causation in your intro?

    • There is plenty of research establishing the relationship between poverty, education, and future earning potential. Establishing causation in this case is not hard.

      • There is no such thing as proving causation with correlation. It’s impossible. And that pretty much demonstrates your utter lack of understanding of what the research actually says.

        The ONLY way to demonstrate causation is through controlled experimentation – please show us the study results where they randomly assigned average people to become rich or poor and followed them through adulthood to measure the outcome.

      • I know you mean well, but you are mostly wrong. I can tell you that although they do work hard, they make foolish decisions that are compounded and the result of the poor education. They then enable their kids to be poor by not realizing the value of an education and allowing, yes allowing, their kids to do poorly in school or not finish. I personally believe they should link welfare benefits to the kids performance in school. If they are well behaved, attend regularly, and pass their classes, there is no effect on benefits, but if the kids don’t do these, the benefits are cut. For kids who do exceptionally well, honor roll, perfect attendance, etc, the parents should receive a ‘bonus’ for their kids achievements. By linking education to benefits, you force the parents to parent rather than use school as a ‘free’ daycare and hopefully allow the kids to escape poverty. Poverty is endemic because it becomes a way of life rather than a place to escape.

        I grew up poor and escaped despite some rather poor decisions because I grabbed on to opportunities and allowed them to pull me up I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, but for all the talk about being poor, I rarely run into poor people who cannot afford the tobacco, alcohol, dime bad, cable TV, etc that should be out of reach if they were focusing their income on food, shelter, clothes, you know – the needs. It goes back to poor decisions and the compounding effect they have on your life.

        Let’s not forget the effect that the ‘Great Society’ and no fault divorces have had on the poor families. When one parent can qualify for benefits that two parents together cannot, it forces the families to split to live. Just look at the nuclear family before and after the Great Society. It was completely flipped upside down. No dad in the house makes it hard for the mother to parent. I lived this life myself and know it to be true.

      • 24:22 Let not those amongst you who have
        been blessed with abundance refuse to
        give to the relatives, the needy, and those
        who have immigrated in the cause of
        God. Let them pardon and forgive.
        Would you not like God to forgive you?
        God is Forgiving, Compassionate.

      • So, wait, you want to accelerate the cycle by making the poorly educated starve faster?

        I suppose it’ll decrease the surplus population.

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  67. This is good information. I have been poor and poorer. These things, at least those I have experienced, are true.
    Loudly denouncing them will not change anything, help anyone, or appease an angry God.

  68. They also:
    1) CHOOSE to have children they cannot afford by not practicing birth control
    2) CHOOSE to have MORE children after already having ones they can’t afford
    3) Buying cigarettes, lottery tickets, beer, and paying the cable TV bill before paying RENT
    4) Having unaffordable habits LIKE smoking, drinking, and playing the lottery
    5) Purchasing things they don’t need on credit, like TVs gaming systems, and the like.
    6) Getting sucked into scams because their greed overrides common sense

    No, not everyone is poor because they made bad choices, sometimes life happens, and yes it is INCREDIBLY unfair that there is no living wage laws, and that the lower the income the more taxes are paid… but having GROWN UP POOR, I can promise that it is ALSO a mentality of ignorance, and having too many babies that keeps people poor.

    • Here’s the twist. Having grown up poor, did you ever stop to think about where the culture of the poor came from? Do people who are poor and have a limited outlook on life, and make shortsighted decisions, just pop into existence?

      The culture of poverty is created by poverty itself. The poor are “greedy” because society places ultimate emphasis on greed, on getting as much money as possible, and on buying your way into luxury and happiness. The people who have nothing are given plenty of excuses to resent it and desire to have stuff as fast as possible.

      Poverty society does not instill an awareness of the big picture in the poor, it doesn’t show people how to think in the long game. The declining quality of public education means more poor people literally know nothing, and lack basic reasoning skills – and the ability to be skeptical of things like scams.

      Poverty creates more poverty, it has always been this way. People are born knowing nothing, and much of their environment shapes their beliefs and perspective on life. It’s rare for someone to escape poverty not just because jobs are scarce – but few people luck into the specific combination of circumstances and self-awareness to drag themselves out of negative behaviors.

    • Birth control costs money. Abortions cost even more (and health care plans can never cover them, thanks!)

      The scams exist because they are allowed to exist- because we let Rent-A-Center and its ilk promise “You can have all these magnificent luxury goods, just pay as you go!” and hope people don’t read the fine print, because we let pay day loans charge usurious interest.

      • Usury and interest are synonymous .. only we have come to understand usury as some really large nondescript number.

        Once upon a time when the feds had the rate at 20%, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to cry usury when companies charged 33% … now that the feds have set it at 0.25% one could argue that any rate over 0.42% is usury .. but nobody does, in fact, people regularly get credit cards with 25% and think .. oh, that’s not too bad. Here is a fact for you … paying the minimum payment on a credit card with a 25% interest rate will mean you will pay for 10 years before you pay it off with only a $1500 balance. You end up paying 3 times what it would have cost to pay cash, which is exactly why buying on credit is a very bad thing, even if the rate is low.

        As an aside, not having sex is free and the last time I checked, you don’t normally get pregnant if you don’t have sex.

      • If you understood the scam I think you would turn back on your remarks. The USA has been on a 100 year interest free loan to the Fed. Are new dollar that is printed comes with an 8% fee which is impossible to pay off because it is greater than the amount of money that exists.

        International banks have used the same process to bankrypt hundreds of third world nations before moving to Europe and the US. They eventually forgive the debts in exchange for land and water rights and new policies and regulations that screw over the people. See Africa. In the case of America, they are throwing 84 billion dollars in the trash each and every month until the dollar collpses. This is by QE Unlimited, otherwise known as the bankster bailout. And guess what? These banks are getting thousands of times more than all the food stamp recipients combined.

        The news media will not tell you this, but the information is readily available. The designed destruction of America is underway. We are going to way of the Wiemar Republic.

      • No, I don’t think I would change my mind, because I actually do understand the whole devaluing of currency through economic policy.

        Inflation is a direct result monetary policy and the federal reserve policy of unchecked money printing.

        If people want to know why things are more expensive now than years ago, they need look no further than monetary policy.

        The problem is that as a country we are spending more money than we have, and as a result the only way to continue to spend more money than we have is to devalue the previous dollars by printing more of them. You will hear it time and again that the reason the national debt isn’t a problem is that we are paying for the debt with inflated dollars.

        Sure, the feds could conceivably print $17 trillion and use that to pay off the national debt, but the rampant inflation would turn us into Zimbabwe .. where the value of a dollar is so low that you would need a wheelbarrow to carry enough money to the store just to buy a loaf of bread.

        The wholesale printing of dollars will be the ruination of this country, and it is all in the name of preventing economic armageddon. Its coming, and the current administration seems oblivious to the problem. Of course the previous administration was too.

      • You are right on many issues here. Obama, just like his predecessors, is not oblivious to what is happening. There has been a CIA coup in America since JFK tried to put us back on the gold standard and end international entanglements. Of course he was promptly assassinated.

        Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama all CIA. CIA is a foreign institution just like the Fed belongs to internationalists.

      • That’s provided you have a Planned Parenthood somewhere in reach. But there are people trying to shut them down as ‘abortion clinics’ despite the fact it is less than 3% of their services. So no Planned Parenthood, no free condoms.

  69. without God/Jesus we humans can never acheive a perfect delicate proportions dialectic balance of “left” and “right”, etc.
    No one is perfect we all have our bad/wrong etc “habits/decisions/judgement /mentality” etc, both poor and middleclass/rich. Somethings may be our own fault /”choices/habits/behaviour” /genetics/upbringing, but also somethings are others/system’s fault.
    “do unto others as you would have done to you”
    / “love your neighbour as your self” (both rich and also poor).
    “the truth will set you free”.
    “i require mercy not sacrifice”.
    Amos 8:4-7; James 2:6; Amos 5:9-15; Luke 3: 10-14; Isaiah 10:2; James 1:27; (Isaiah 1:23); (Micah 6:8).

    the main causes of mass unemployment (one cause of poverty/poor) are globalist capitalist big business free trade (sweat shops, cheap imports, cost cutting, restructuring/relocation etc), and immigration, and maybe technology/mass production (cp the mentioned Ford).

    people complain about “bludgers/lazy” yet no one raises a skweek about corporate share holders who brag that they don’t work hard but their money works for them.
    “We hang minor thieves and tip our hats to major ones.” (- German proverb.)

    People that have (jobs, wives/families/children, houses, etc) should be grateful for what they have.
    Often today it is all force, fear, threat, incentive, guilt, negatives, punishment, tough, harsh, individualism, work, law/legalism, responsibility, etc, there is not much love, help, positives, reward, grace/mercy, etc.

    Re food: Getting decent quality food from supermarket is not easy as everything is full of sprays, fluoride, sugar, salt, oil, soy, growth hormones, bpa, or in tins/cans (cadmium/heavy metals), blood, bone chips, irradiated, additves, etc.
    I tried apples but they are all bruised under the skin and i am sick of having to.
    I have a cow milk allergy but it is impossible to get fresh goats milk here.
    there is no organic shop where i am, i can’t have a garden in my current situation & condition (i would if i could).
    Rich people can afford water filters and/or have cars etc to get their own unfluoridated water from next city while it is a huge hastle for me to have to travel on train and carry 20L of water for kms to/from station.

    People often think they can dump their unwanted rubbish on poor. We should not give rubbish to poor. eg if i give food to someone i give what i would myself or give the best or what they most need not just poor quality.


    good free love truth work victory grateful grace mercy compassion empathy socialwelfare apprenticeships profitsharing handup responsibility education reward help family life quality God best socialcredit perfect proof fit healthy socialequality successful commoninterest etc


    selfish lazy usury work globalism freetrade victim pride scam theft dependency welfarestate corporatewelfare assumptions poverty sweatshop bludger fluoridation Cain flesh moralism judgmental slavery halftruths scrooge hyperindividualism homeless legalism hypocrite capitalism trickledowntheory slavefordole worktolive limitedchoices accuse&excuse “scribes&pharisees” world monopoly gapbetweenrich&poor povertytrap slacker liberalism etc

    • 5:89 “God will not hold you for your
      unintentional oaths, but He will hold you
      for what oaths you have made binding
      with consideration. Its cancellation shall
      be the feeding of ten poor people from
      the average of what you feed your
      family, or that you clothe them…” ~God

  70. My family can “survive” on $1000 per month and we can live comfortably on $1400 per month … do I want to? No. My household income is roughly $2700 per month and we live a hell of a lot better than folks making twice as much.

    Being poor is a function of income, living poor is a function of spending habits.

    Ask yourself how I could have just purchased a new washer and dryer and paid $1800 cash for it.

    /I’m not rich
    //I live rich

    • Empresstrudy, you have been sold a bill of goods. Inequality has increased dramatically over time, and the wages of the working class have been held down by a concerted attack on unions, deregulation, and a failure to maintain the minimum wage–all beginning in the 1980s with the replacement of Keynesian economics with “free market” ideology. This is the primary reason for increased poverty. Low wages.

      You also need to look at public benefits in historical perspective. Beginning in 1981, with the “Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act,” there has been a steady attack on benefits, with various populations targeted for different reasons. One could have thought it would get no worse after the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which eliminated children’s right to public assistance, placing a five year lifetime limit on benefits. Now food stamps are under attack. The right won’t rest until the last vestige of the welfare state is destroyed, and that means your Social Security and Medicare.

      At no time were middle class taxpayers unduly burdened by the assistance programs. Even before the attacks commenced, public benefits amounted to only 6% of the total budget. Most of your tax dollar goes to defense and things to make the lives of the wealthy more pleasant.

      Why the attack on the welfare state? Because it belongs to a different philosophy. The welfare state, which is guaranteed by the Preamble to the Constitution (“promote the general welfare”), belongs to a philosophy that says we are our brothers’ keepers, while the opponents align themselves with the John Galts of the world, with a perverted interpretation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. They are social darwinists, believing that those who can’t make it in our competitive free market environment keep down the rest of us. The sooner they disappear, the better our society will be. But even evolutionary development studies tell us that the society that takes care of its own is the society that survives.

      • “Most of your tax dollar goes to defense and things to make the lives of the wealthy more pleasant.”

        Talk about being sold a bill of goods. Most bleeding heart liberals don’t seem to grasp that the numbers they’re spoon-fed from Rachel Madkow only include federal spending, and discretionary spending at that. Education, for example, is almost entirely funded at the local tax level. If you take ALL government spending at ALL levels, defense only amounts to about 14% – just a little less than we spend on education. But keep up the good work pushing that propaganda!

  71. Having been raised a step or two above poverty, and having raised 3 kids in the same SES, I’d have to say his comments were pretty much on target. You can bootstrap yourselves from poverty, of course. My in-laws were raised much poorer than I was, and most of my wife’s 7 siblings did all right in entry into middle-class. Character, hard work and wisdom does have a lot to do with it. Unless you enter the ministry. Then nothing can save you. That’s what I did.

  72. I would love to see those who are so emphatically anti-poor/anti-entitlements show some basic compassion and empathy towards those who are less fortunate than they are…even to those who seem or appear to “choose to have more children even when they can’t afford it.”

    Where did “love thy neighbor” go? Where did this distorted, judgmental, anti-poor argument and general resentment come from? Who planted the seeds and when? How did these beliefs take root? How has it spread like a herd mentality without a basis for their argument?

    AND why can’t those who are anti-poor, anti-homeless, etc. see that if the members of churches and non-profit groups help care and provide services for the poor and underserved, that our tax dollars could be put towards other things like infrastructure and education?

    • Read Ben’s article, but not sure what Dave said. Dave is a good guy, so I would be surprised if any criticism was ill intentioned. Dave has helped alot of folks get back on their feet. I guess i’m wondering what the argument is about?

    • “Love thy neighbor” is fine. There is also nothing wrong with caring for the poor and hungry. But those who love to parrot biblical ideologies usually cherry pick to make their point. So, as long as we are quoting biblical ideas, why not quote the rest of the bible? You know, like “If one does not work, neither shall they be allowed to eat”.

      But to all of the folks who point out that Jesus said to feed the poor, if you study that scripture a bit closer, you will see that the poor being described were widows, orphans, and disabled.

      I suspect that the vast majority of folks on government assistance (except perhaps social security) do not fall within any of those categories.

      Regardless, I’d invite anyone to compare their own help for the poor to mine.

      • Seems like you missed my point, RichPoorMan.

        The orphans, women, and disabled are not the only ones we need to care or have compassion/empathy for..

        I have suspicions about your “suspicions” about the “vast majority” on gov’t assistance. Why not do some research before you make such sweeping statements about the “poor”?Your suspicions are only founded on conspiracy theories and “hunches” with no ground to stand on.

      • Context, man! That passage is referring to Christian groups that were sitting around doing nothing because Christ was going to come back any moment and why bother? It’s an exhortation to keep working- which meant helping the poor and the sick and so on.

        Of course there’s also the bit where early Christians shared everything they had in common, implying a communal existence without a need to earn currency to live.

  73. Ever read the book Being Nickeled and Dimed, On Not Getting By In America, by Barbara Ehrenreich…an eye opener…I have a hard time believing that people really think that the poor are poor because they want to be. No one wants to suffer like that. Why do you think the rich fight so hard to keep what they have? The less they have to share or contribute from their coffers means that they won’t ever lack for anything. Lucky them.

    • Have not read Barbara’s book, so I cannot really speak to that, but I agree that people don’t want to be poor. I guess what strikes me is two things. First, Ben’s article offers no solutions for the poor. Ramsay offers solutions with his advice. Second, there seems to be a bias against those who are rich. I really don’t get this. It’s almost like there is an explanation that people are poor because others are rich. Is it that simple? And if so how?

      • When our grandparents and parents were growing up and raising families the expectation was that the next generation would do better. Be more successful, buy more, contribute more, live better. This is no longer the case. The distance between who has and who has not if hugely divided. There is no real simple answer either to fixing the problem. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. Offering a living wage may cost more for a business but allows the poor to be contributing consumers which in turn benefits business. Providing the funding to purchase and consume healthier foods contributes to better health, less need in the long run for medical care and lower costs to consumers for insurance. Children who eat better from the start do better in school. They learn better because they are not consumed by hunger. We used to live collectively with a sense of it “taking a village to raise up a child”. We were about goodwill and assistance gladly to those who didn’t have. Our country is no longer like that. It has become a country of individuals who feel little responsibility for their fellow man. That makes me sad. I don’t have a lot and I have struggles, however, there is always someone who needs more than I need. My kids learned to live with their needs fulfilled and some of their wants satisfied. As adults, they appreciate and take care of the things that they have while also giving to others. I’m proud of that. You know what? Never once have they come back to say that they suffered. I hope that they will continue to be contributors to those who don’t have and who need assistance. Opportunities are not the same for today’s families as in the past. While the answers to the problems of the poor aren’t simple, it behooves us all to look for them.

  74. What pulls people out of poverty are good jobs, the kind of jobs we had in the 50’s and 60’s. Middle class office jobs, factory jobs, union jobs. Where are those jobs now? In China, India, Bangladesh. Corporations farm out our jobs to countries who pay unbelievably low wages, have no one looking out for employee safety, no limit on hours worked, and no minimum age of workers. The American worker is screwed and big business and stockholders pocket the savings. The year after General Motors recorded their highest profit in the history of the company, they sent jobs overseas. The highest profit ever while keeping Americans working in a safe environment wasn’t good enough for them. They could do better by exploiting desperate people. There is one word for this type of capitalism: GREED.

    • This is the problem and please take a look at my previous post on the issue. Not every person who wants a middle class job can have one because not enough of them exist! The system keeps the poor and “middle class” fighting while they fail to see the real reasons their incomes are shrinking.

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  76. True success is not measured monetarily. God tells us over and over again to give charity to those in need and feed the poor. Please take a few minutes to read the following verses with an open heart and mind:

    2:264 O you who acknowledge, do not nullify
    your charities with insult and harm; like
    the one who spends his money in vanity
    to show the people, and he does not
    acknowledge God and the Last day. His
    example is like a stone on which there is
    dust, then it is subjected to heavy rain,
    which leaves it bare. They cannot do
    anything with what they earned; and
    God does not guide the ingrates.

    2:270 Whatever you spend out of your monies,
    or whatever you pledge as a promise,
    certainly, God knows it. The wicked
    have no supporters.
    2:271 If you declare your charity, then it is
    acceptable; but if you conceal it and give
    it to the poor, then that is better for you.
    It depreciates some of your sins; and
    God is Ever-aware of all that you do.

    2:273 As for the poor who face hardship in the
    cause of God, and cannot leave the land;
    the ignorant ones think they are rich
    from their abstention; you know them by
    their marks, they do not ask the people
    repeatedly. What you spend out of
    goodness, God is fully aware of it.

    5:89 God will not hold you for your
    unintentional oaths, but He will hold you
    for what oaths you have made binding
    with consideration. Its cancellation shall
    be the feeding of ten poor people from
    the average of what you feed your
    family, or that you clothe them, or that
    you free a slave; whoever cannot find
    shall fast for three days; as an atonement
    when you swear. You shall fulfill your
    oaths. It is such that God clarifies for
    you His signs that you may be thankful.

    9:60 The charities are to go to the poor, the
    needy, those who work on their
    collection, those whose hearts are to be
    reconciled, free the slaves, those in debt,
    in the cause of God, and to the wayfarer.
    A duty from God; God is
    Knowledgeable, Wise.

    17:26 Give the relative his due, and the poor,
    and the wayfarer; and do not waste
    17:27 Those who waste excessively are
    brothers to the devils, and the devil
    was an unappreciative of his Lord.

    22:28 So that they may witness benefits for
    themselves and recall God’s name in
    the appointed days over what He has
    provided for them of the animal
    livestock. So eat from it and feed the
    needy and the poor.

    22:36 The plump animals for offering, We
    have made them for you as decrees
    from God, in them is goodness for
    you. So mention God’s name upon
    them while being orderly, so once their
    body becomes still, then eat from them
    and give food to the poor and the
    needy. It was thus that We have made
    them in service to you, that you may be
    22:37 Neither their meat nor their blood
    reaches God, but what reaches Him is
    the righteousness from you. It was thus
    that He made them in service to you,
    so that you may glorify God for what
    He has guided you to, and give news to
    the good doers.

    30:37 Did they not see that God grants the
    provisions for whom He wills, and He is
    able? In that are signs for a people who
    30:38 So give the relative his due, and the
    poor, and the wayfarer. That is best for
    those who seek God’s presence, and they
    are the successful ones.
    30:39 Any financial interest you have placed to
    grow in the people’s money, it will not
    grow with God. But, any contribution
    that you have placed seeking His
    presence; those will be multiplied.

    47:36 This worldly life is no more than play
    and vanity. But if you acknowledge and
    lead a righteous life, He will reward you,
    and He will not ask you for your wealth.
    47:37 If He were to ask you for it, to the extent
    of creating a hardship for you, you
    would become stingy, and your hidden
    evil might be exposed.
    47:38 Here you are being invited to spend in
    the cause of God, but some among you
    turn stingy. Whoever is stingy is only
    being stingy on himself. God is the Rich,
    while you are the poor. If you turn away,
    He will substitute another people instead
    of you, then they will not be like you.

    53:43 He is the One who makes laughter and
    53:44 He is the One who takes life and gives it.
    53:45 He is the One who created the pair, male
    and female.
    53:46 From a seed that is put forth.
    53:47 He will effect the recreation.
    53:48 He is the One who makes you rich or

    58:1 God has heard the woman who argues
    with you regarding her husband, and she
    complains to God. God hears the
    argument between you. God is Hearer,
    58:2 Those among you who estrange their
    wives by saying to them: “You are as my
    mother.” They can never be as their
    mothers, for their mothers are the
    women who gave birth to them. Indeed,
    they are uttering what is strange and a
    falsehood. God is Pardoner, Forgiver.
    58:3 Those who had estranged their wives in
    this manner, then they again repeat it,
    they shall free a slave before they have
    sexual contact between them. This is to
    enlighten you. God is well aware of
    everything you do.
    58:4 If he cannot find anyone, then he shall
    fast two consecutive months before any
    sexual contact between them. If he
    cannot, then he shall feed sixty poor
    people. That is so you would
    acknowledge God and His messenger.
    These are the limits set by God. Those
    who do not appreciate have incurred a
    painful retribution.

    59:7 Whatever God provided to His
    messenger from the people of the
    townships, then it shall be to God and
    His messenger; for the relatives, the
    orphans, the poor, and the wayfarer.
    Thus, it will not remain monopolized by
    the rich among you. You may take what
    the messenger gives you, but do not take
    what he withholds you from taking. Be
    aware of God, for God is mighty in

    65:7 The rich shall provide support in
    accordance with his means, and the poor
    shall provide according to the means that
    God bestowed upon him. God does not
    burden any person more than He has
    given it. God will provide ease after

    69:34 Nor did he advocate the feeding of the
    69:35 Consequently, he has no friend here
    69:36 Nor any food, except for pollutants.
    69:37 Food for the sinners.

    74:42 “What has caused you to be in Saqar?” (Hell)
    74:43 They said, “We were not of those who
    offered support (or observed contact
    74:44 “We did not feed the poor.”

    76:6 A spring from which the servants of God
    drink, it gushes forth abundantly.
    76:7 They fulfill their vows, and they fear a
    day whose consequences are widespread.
    76:8 They give food out of love to the poor
    and the orphan and the captive.
    76:9 “We only feed you for the sake of God;
    we do not desire from you any reward or

    89:15 As for man, if his Lord tests him and
    grants him much, then he says: “My
    Lord has blessed me!”
    89:16 If his Lord tests him and gives him little
    wealth, then he says: “My Lord has
    humiliated me!”
    89:17 No, you are not generous to the orphan.
    89:18 You do not look to feeding the poor.
    89:19 You consume others inheritance, all with
    89:20 You love money, a love that is
    89:21 No, when the earth is pounded into
    89:22 Your Lord comes with the angels row
    after row.
    89:23 Hell on that day is brought. On that day
    the human being will remember, but how
    will the remembrance now help him?

    90:12 Do you know which the better path is?
    90:13 The freeing of slaves.
    90:14 Or the feeding on a day of great
    90:15 An orphan of relation.
    90:16 Or a poor person in need.

    107:1 Do you notice who rejects the system?
    107:2 It is the one who mistreats the orphan.
    107:3 Does not encourage the feeding of the

    47:29 Or did those who harbor a disease in
    their hearts think that God would not
    bring out their evil thoughts?

    47:30 If We wished, We would show them to
    you so you would recognize them by
    their looks. However, you can recognize
    them by their speech. God is fully aware
    of your works.

    9:55 So do not be impressed by their wealth
    or children; God only wishes to punish
    them with it in the worldly life, and so
    that their lives will end while they are
    9:56 They swear by God that they are with
    you, while they are not with you; but
    they are timid and divisive people.

    9:69 Like those before you; they were more
    powerful than you, and had more wealth
    and offspring. They enjoyed their lot,
    and you enjoyed your lot as those before
    you enjoyed their lives; and you
    indulged as they indulged. These are
    those whose works crumbled in this
    world and the hereafter, and they were
    the losers.

    18:39 “When you entered your garden, you
    should have said, “This is what God
    has given, there is no power except by
    God.” You may see me as being less
    than you in wealth and in children.”
    18:40 “Yet, perhaps my Lord will give me
    better than your garden, and send upon
    it a reckoning from the sky, so it
    becomes completely barren.”

    34:35 They said, “We have more wealth and
    more children, and we will not be
    34:36 Say, “My Lord gives provisions to
    whomever He wishes, or He restricts
    them, but most people do not know.”
    34:37 It is not your money or your children that
    will bring you closer to Us, but only
    those who acknowledge and do good
    work, they will receive double the
    reward for their works, and they will
    reside in the high dwellings in peace.

    47:36 This worldly life is no more than play
    and vanity. But if you acknowledge and
    lead a righteous life, He will reward you,
    and He will not ask you for your wealth.

    57:10 Why do you not spend in the cause of
    God, when God possesses all wealth in
    the heavens and the earth?

    70:19 Indeed, human being is created anxious.
    70:20 When adversity touches him he is
    70:21 When good touches him he is stingy.
    70:22 Except for those who are supportive.
    70:23 Who are always maintaining their
    support/contact prayers.
    70:24 Those who set aside part of their wealth.
    70:25 For the seeker and the deprived.

    92:8 As for he who is stingy and holds back.
    92:9 Denies goodness.
    92:10 We will make the difficult path for him.
    92:11 His wealth will not avail him when he

    104:0 In the name of God, the Gracious, the
    104:1 Woe unto every backbiter, slanderer.*
    104:2 Who gathered his wealth and counted it.
    104:3 He thinks that his wealth will make him
    104:4 Never! He will be thrown into the
    104:5 Do you know what the Hutama is?
    104:6 God’s kindled fire.

    42:12 To (God) belongs the possessions of the
    heavens and the earth. He spreads out the
    provision for whomever He wills, and
    He measures it. He is fully aware of all

    16:71 God has preferred some of you over
    others in provision. Those who have
    been preferred will not relinquish their
    provision to those whom they have
    contractual rights, so they may become
    equal in it. Are they denying the favor
    of God?

    • Jen, These are verses, but why didn’t you mention that they were from the Koran?? Furthermore, why is the term ‘God’ used instead of the correct form ‘Allah’? I will believe Ramsey over the koran… any day!!!!

      • Just another reason to leave the various mythologies of the world out of the discussion. Put a different name to whatever people call the life energy, and bingo! a dispute, regardless of the information.

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  78. The poor are: lazy assed leeched on relatives, government and society who just want you to give them the damn fish; don’t teach me a skill, it would cut my bennies.
    The poor are: good people, in bad times, ill equipped to overcome their situation, who can be helped by their fellow man and will show gratitude and pay it forward.

  79. Budget and Priority. Lots of people who can afford 6 dollar a pack cigarettes spending anywhere between 150 and 200 dollars a month on this habit BUT they can’t afford healthy nutritious foods. I actually save money by eating and cooking healthier meals. So the saying that healthy foods and healthy eating habits is more expensive is simply not true. I have proven it time and time again with my clients.

    • You realize that tobacco creates a chemical dependency, right? It’s a hard habit to kick. Sure, they’d be better off not acquiring it, but it’s not like people should be punished over a lifetime for a bad decision at age 15 or whatever.

    • A 3 dollar bag of cookies lasts longer and costs less than a bag of grapes. I don’t disagree about the cigarettes but good food can cost more than cheap food. If you are limited on how you can get to a store, then the cookies will also last longer in the pantry. I am poor and I do not buy cookies. If we have them, we make them ourselves. But I admit, I do not eat as healthy as my kids because I want them to have the nutritional food so I do often go without. We have to remember that not every likes a lot of the food suggested by nutritionists.

      • For the homeless, nutritional food is a dream. One needs to have a house and a stove with paid up utilities to be able to cook a meal. The ability to have these things in our culture is a blessing, not a right. Poor people eat candy, chips, cereal and pepperoni. All packaged foods that don’t require a stove, water or a plate.Let alone a place out of the weather to eat them.

  80. Pingback: What it’s like to be poor | The Wise Sloth

  81. Does anyone have the courage to suggest that restricting the size of their families would increase the amount of money, food, and time available to all members of the rest of said family? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone should have children, our world is smothering itself in “the right to breed”.

    See: http://vhemt.org/


    • abortion:

      6:151 Say, “Come let me recite to you what
      your Lord has forbidden for you: that
      you should not set up anything with
      Him; and be kind to your parents; and do
      not kill your children for fear of
      poverty, We provide for you and for
      them; and do not come near lewdness,
      what is plain of it or subtle; and do not
      kill the person which God has forbidden,
      except in justice. That is what He
      enjoined you that you may comprehend.”

      17:31 Do not kill your children out of
      fear of poverty; We shall provide for
      you and them. The killing of them was
      a big mistake.

  82. I am totally shocked by all the comments and ridicule that most of the people here seem to think about how the poor behave…it seems like many of you have put all the poor people into the same bundle. I am poor. I don’t like admitting it and I try not to let anyone know. I was taken away from my parents when I was 7 along with my two brothers and put we were put into 3 different foster homes. I was able to get my HS Diploma I got married young and had 4 children. I was in a really abusive relationship so I left on my own without any money, changed states and started over. I worked 50 hours a week, with the kids in daycare, making 300 a week. I had to pay my rent, daycare, and gas and insurance for the car, electricity, gas and water. We did not have cable. I do not smoke. I did have a little 16 inch box TV so the kids could watch VHS tapes. I had to buy all the kids clothes at the thrift store. I was able to get 167 a month for food, which was a life saver. We did not eat fast food. That 167 paid for 28 dinners a month with some cereal and milk for the kids on weekends. We had plenty of flour and water only biscuits because that is all I could afford. There were weeks I went to work where I did not eat breakfast or lunch. I lost 50 pounds that year and I have never been considered medically overweight. I would get sick with 102 fevers and still go to work, which ended up landing me in the hospital 3 times for a month stay total that year. While working 50 hours a week, I went to school full time. I ended up finishing with a 4.0 and an associates degree. I was able to get a new job and still am considered POOR. And, yes, I did get a WII. But, at Gamestop they let you make monthly payments and I was able to get a used one. So I spent my 10 dollars extra a month and was able to get one. I guess I am a horrible typical poor person!

    • Your situation is so much like many people I know. We work, we walk, we cook with what others are willing to donate to the food shelf, and we are grateful for that.

    • AMEN!
      You are my hero! My mother had your life. Now she lives comfortably and happy because her children honor her and provide well for her. May your further be merry and bright!

  83. This is such a complicated issue. One that requires mercy, gentleness, kindness, grace, mercy. You know the things the God you all keep quoting requires of you (and me).

    I have been poor and I have been middle class. The fact of the matter there is truth to Ben’s list and Dave’s list.

    You cannot make a broad sweeping conclusion about why the poor are poor. They are not lazy, nor are they enslaved. Poverty is a result of so many factors that it’s almost hard to quantify.

    I do know that in my extended family circle there were those who were in poverty BECAUSE they were lazy. We were impoverished because my father refused to work and my mother could not raise us on her income. She had no job skills because she married at age 15.

    What I DO find to be a common theme are a few stereotypical comments that DO need to be addressed:

    1) A common element of poverty is a father who shirks his responsibility. IE. He’s willing to have children, but not willing to be responsible for them. This makes poverty an unending cycle. Mom has child. Dad leaves. Mom tries to raise child alone. Child doesn’t learn responsibility. He has a girlfriend. Has a baby. Dad leaves. Mom again is raising child on her own.

    I’ve seen this in my family 3 cycles now. This is where we as a society need to figure out how to fix the situation.

    2) Our education system is flawed. 50% of the dropout rate cannot be because of poverty. There was a series here on the radio where a good portion of the kids were dropping out because school was boring. IOW, the current FREE public school system meets the learning needs and styles of only a small percentage of the population. These kids are dropping out because it doesn’t work for them, they find it boring. And again, they are typically from poor families…where dad’s are missing.

    3) Our tax system needs overhauled. The FEDERAL government IS too big. It should be handling the defense of our country (DEFENSE…NOT OFFENSE and trying to fight other countries battles) and national interaction. In Oregon we pay the middle tax bracket (I believe it’s 7%). But we pay over 30% to the Federal. That is BACKWARDS. Most of the function of federal government needs to go. It needs to be local. That’s the way the country was founded, the Constitution was set up.

    I pay taxes, and have no problem paying taxes. But if I’m going to pay almost 40% of my money to “help” it should go to my community, my state. Not a big government back East where a bunch of white guys play Rambo.

    4) A lot of us would do good to actually READ what Jesus says before quoting him. He talked about the poor being among us always. And with the same mouth he said, “Love your NEIGHBOR, as yourself.” Until we start recognizing that our neighbor is a human being, we won’t change the reality. The Bible also says, “To whom much is given, much is required”. It also says, “To him who does not work, does not eat.”

    That’s why this issue is so complicated. Because it’s not a matter of making the right set of laws, the right algebraic formula for wealth distribution, the right tax code; it’s a matter of changing people’s hearts. You can’t legislate it.

    Good article! Thank you for the challenge!

    • God set up a system of marriage, child support, and alimony. The fathers who do not fulfill their duties are transgressing. God’s law states as follows:

      2:226 For those who are discontent with their
      wives, let them wait for four months. If
      they reconcile, then God is Forgiving,

      2:227 If they insist on the divorce, then God is
      Hearer, Knowledgeable.

      2:228 The divorced women shall wait for three
      menstruation periods; and it is not lawful
      for them to conceal what God has
      created in their wombs, if they
      acknowledge God and the Last day.
      Their husbands are more justified to
      return to them, if they both wish to
      reconcile. The women have rights
      similar to their obligations, according to
      the recognized norms. But the men will
      have a degree over them. God is Noble,

      2:229 The divorce is allowed twice. So, either
      remain together equitably, or part ways
      with kindness. It is not lawful for you to
      take back anything you have given the
      women unless you fear that they will not
      uphold God’s limits. So if you fear that
      they will not uphold God’s limits, then
      there is no sin upon them for what is
      given back. These are God’s limits so do
      not transgress them. Whoever shall
      transgress God’s limits are the wicked.

      2:230 So if he divorces her again, then she will
      not be lawful for him until she has
      married another husband. If the other
      husband divorces her, then they are not
      blamed for coming back together if they
      think they will uphold God’s limits.
      These are God’s limits; He clarifies them
      for a people that know.

      2:231 If you have divorced the women, and
      they have reached their required interim
      period, then either remain together
      equitably, or part ways equitably. Do not
      reconcile with them so you can harm
      them out of animosity. Whoever does so
      is doing wickedness to his person. Do
      not take God’s signs lightly; remember
      God’s blessings towards you, and what
      was sent down to you of the book and
      the wisdom, He warns you with it. Be
      conscientious of God and know that
      God is Knowledgeable in all things.

      2:232 If you divorce the women, and they have
      reached their required interim period,
      then do not prevent them from
      remarrying their husbands if they
      amicably agree amongst themselves out
      of what is best. This is to remind any of
      you who acknowledge God and the Last
      day, this is better for you and purer; and
      God knows while you do not know.

      2:233 The birth mothers suckle their children
      two full years, for those who wish to
      complete the suckling. The man for
      whom the child is born is responsible for
      both their provisions and clothing
      equitably. A person should not be
      burdened beyond its means. No mother
      shall be harmed because of her child, nor
      shall a father be harmed because of his
      child. For the guardian is the same
      requirement. So if they wish to separate
      out of mutual agreement and council,
      then there is no blame on them. If you
      want to hire nursing mothers, then there
      is no blame on you if you return what
      you have been given according to the
      recognized norms. Be conscientious of
      God, and know that God is watching
      over what you do.

      2:235 There is no blame upon you if you
      openly propose marriage to these
      women, or you keep it between
      yourselves. God knows that you will be
      thinking of them, but do not meet them
      secretly, unless you have something
      righteous to say. Do not consummate the
      marriage until the required interim is
      reached in the book. Know that God
      knows what is in your minds, so be
      conscientious of Him, and know that
      God is Forgiving, Compassionate.

      2:236 There is no blame on you if you divorce
      the women before having sexual
      intercourse with them, or before
      committing to what was agreed for them.
      Let them have compensation, the rich
      according to his means, and the poor
      according to his means. Compensation,
      which is according to the recognized
      norms, is a responsibility for gooddoers.

      2:237 If you divorce them before having sexual
      intercourse with them, but you have
      already agreed to the dowry, then you
      must give half of what you have agreed,
      unless they forgive or the guardian over
      the marriage contract forgives. If you
      forgive, it is closer to awareness. Do not
      forget the favor between you; God is
      Seer over what you do.

      2:240 Those of you who pass away and leave
      widows behind, leave a will for them
      that they may enjoy for one year without
      being evicted. If they leave, then there is
      no blame on you for what they do to
      themselves out of the recognized norms;
      and God is Noble, Wise.

      2:241 For the divorced women compensation is
      an obligation upon the conscientious.

      4:20 If you wish to replace one mate instead
      of another, and you have given one of
      them a large amount, then do not take
      anything from it. Would you take it by
      falsehood while it is clearly a sin?

      4:34 The men are to support the women by
      what God has gifted them over one
      another and for what they spend of their
      money. The reformed women are
      devotees and protectors of privacy what
      God has protected. As for those women
      from whom you fear disloyalty, then you
      shall advise them, abandon them in the
      bedchamber, and separate them; if they
      obey you, then do not seek a way over
      them; God is High, Great.

      4:35 If you fear a split between them, then
      send a judge from his family and a judge
      from hers. If they want to reconcile, then
      God will bring them together. God is
      Knowledgeable, Ever-aware.

      33:49 O you who acknowledge, if you married
      the acknowledging women and then
      divorced them before having intercourse
      with them, then there is no interim
      required of them. You shall compensate
      them, and let them go in an amicable

      65:0 In the name of God, the Gracious, the
      65:1 O you prophet, if any of you have
      divorced the women, then they should be
      divorced while ensuring that their
      required interim is fulfilled, and keep
      count of the interim. You shall reverence
      God your Lord, and do not evict the
      women from their homes, nor should
      they leave, unless they have committed a
      proven adultery. These are God’s limits.
      Anyone who transgresses God’s limits
      has wronged his person. You never
      know; perhaps God will make
      something come out of this.
      65:2 Then, once the interim is fulfilled, either
      you remain together equitably, or part
      ways equitably and have it witnessed by
      two just people from among you; and
      give the testimony for God. This is to
      enlighten those who acknowledge God
      and the Last day. Whosoever reverences
      God, He will create a solution for him.
      65:3 He will provide for him whence he never
      expected. Anyone who puts his trust in
      God, then He suffices him. God’s
      commands will be done. God has
      decreed for everything its fate.
      65:4 As for the women who have reached
      menopause, if you have any doubts, their
      interim shall be three months. As for
      those whose menstruation has ceased,
      and those who are already pregnant, their
      interim is until they give birth. Anyone
      who reverences God, He makes his
      matters easy for him.

      Duties Towards Divorced Women

      65:6 You shall let them reside in the home
      you were in when you were together, and
      do not coerce them to make them leave.
      If they are pregnant, you shall spend on
      them until they give birth. Then, if they
      nurse the infant for you, you shall pay
      them their due for such. You shall
      maintain the amicable relations between
      you. If you disagree, then another
      woman may nurse the child.
      65:7 The rich shall provide support in
      accordance with his means, and the poor
      shall provide according to the means that
      God bestowed upon him. God does not
      burden any person more than He has
      given it. God will provide ease after

    • Of course, the Bible also said that the apostles did not own and hoard property, but shared it in common. There was always work to be done, so you didn’t have to hope you passed the interview- you were given work to do and in return you could always expect food and shelter. It was a communal system. That can function, in very small groups at least.

      Most people want to work. It’s in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to be productive. But the current system isn’t working to be productive, it’s working to have a wage and having a wage to survive- it’s wage slavery.

  84. I continue to be dismayed by the number of people who take the biblical quotation, “The one who does not work shalt not eat” completely out of context. This was addressed to the Christian community at Thessalonica and referred to those who had become so fanatical about their belief in Christ’s imminent return that they quit doing anything except for waiting around in idleness and over-excitement. It is an instruction that had nothing at ALL to do with the care of the poor.

    Scripture is replete with the imperative to to care for the poor. It is in the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Epistles. Perhaps the most unambiguous teaching of Jesus is that found in Matthew 25 where he says that “as we have done to the “least of these” we have done to HIM. Nowhere in this famous passage are we instructed to determine who is worthy of our help first.

  85. What kills me is the attitudes I am reading above. Why are so many of you “for” or “against” poor people? Lets think of people as individuals and not categorize them so harshly. As a teacher, a person formerly below the poverty line, a person formerly on welfare, and as a Christian, I have a big problem with all of your generalizations.

  86. I have what I believe is a rather unique perspective on these issues, these separate cultures, because I have lived both. In 1999 I was a member of the vaunted 1%…until my employer went bankrupt during the high tech bust, and because I was an insider I lost everything due to shareholder lawsuits. I became ill shortly after and could not work- eventually became homeless and lived on the streets until I could get SS Disability….which some say is an entitlement program even though I made the max contribution to SS for close to 30 years….but I had to accept a 30% reduction from my retirement benefits. So yes, I have lived in both of these worlds, and let me assure you they are two separate cultures….both are very flawed….one is based on greed and stress, the other is based upon survival. The means to “fix” these issues is beyond me, but I believe we have a crisis of values in our society at large, and a healthy dose of spiritual life would go a long way towards offering us all an opportunity to become better people….

    • James, I hope that you have clawed your way back to a more comfortable living for yourself. A situation like yours was just what I was about to bring up.

      It seems to me that Ramsey’s actual flaw wasn’t in comparing rich people to poor people, but in failing to compare rich people with upper middle class people or people who were once rich and lost it. By assuming that the habits of the very rich were the exact habits that got them rich, he was guilty of survivorship bias.

      Here’s a very entertaining explanation of survivorship bias.


      My guess is that had Ramsey properly studied the people who were comfortable, but not meeting the criteria of being rich, he’d find a fair number of people who enjoyed audio books and aerobic exercise on a regular basis.

    • I’m very sorry to hear that James. My case is the other way round. I was unemployed in the UK during the Thatcher period. I got enough benefits to eat one meal a day one week out of two. The second week I just went hungry. I was a little over 130 pounds at 6’2″, and that was WITH illegally doing any odd jobs I could get. Somehow I managed to get on the ladder & work my way up to management level on a very decent salary, until we got rationalized away in the name of capitalism. When I went to visit friends who were still unemployed & saw their completely empty fridges & kitchen cupboards it would drive me to tears. Now after a burn-out the tide seems to have changed again for me too. Being or becoming poor is something that can happen to anyone. Anyone at all. No matter how talented you are, or how hard or how many hours you work. Bad choices… That’s just taking the mickey.

      • It is God who decides the wealth of each individual in order to test us with what we have.

        2:155 We (God) will test you with some fear and
        hunger, and a shortage in money and
        lives and fruits. Give good news to those
        who are patient.
        2:156 The ones who, when afflicted with
        adversity, say, “We are to God and to
        Him we will return.”

        2:273 As for the poor who face hardship in the
        cause of God, and cannot leave the land;
        the ignorant ones think they are rich
        from their abstention; you know them by
        their marks, they do not ask the people
        repeatedly. What you spend out of
        goodness, God is fully aware of it.

        30:37 Did they not see that God grants the
        provisions for whom He wills, and He is
        able? In that are signs for a people who
        30:38 So give the relative his due, and the
        poor, and the wayfarer. That is best for
        those who seek God’s presence, and they
        are the successful ones.
        30:39 Any financial interest you have placed to
        grow in the people’s money, it will not
        grow with God. But, any contribution
        that you have placed seeking His
        presence; those will be multiplied.

        34:36 Say, “My Lord gives provisions to
        whomever He wishes, or He restricts
        them, but most people do not know.”

        42:12 To (God) belongs the possessions of the
        heavens and the earth. He spreads out the
        provision for whomever He wills, and
        He measures it. He is fully aware of all

        16:71 God has preferred some of you over
        others in provision. Those who have
        been preferred will not relinquish their
        provision to those whom they have
        contractual rights, so they may become
        equal in it. Are they denying the favor
        of God?

        107:1 Do you notice who rejects the system?
        107:2 It is the one who mistreats the orphan.
        107:3 Does not encourage the feeding of the

  87. Doesn’t it seem more likely that people who are wealthy justify that as some kind of moral strength? I mean, you hardly ever hear rich people say ‘I’m wealthy because I was lucky’. In fact, I’ve never heard that.What I have heard them say is something like ‘I’m/We’re rich now, but I/we had to work for it’.
    It may be that some of the extremely wealthy people have got there as a result of cleverness, hard work or both. It seems more likely to me that the more commonly wealthy got that way out of the sheer dumb luck of being born and brought up in reasonable circumstances.

  88. Good argument why we should dump Democrats, who love the poor so much they create more of them, and vote for LESS government interference so the economy can grow and result in more jobs…higher paying jobs.

  89. I personally would like to know how Dave Ramsey, a person that has a hit radio show, four New York Times best sellers, a large financial planning company (Lampo Group, Inc.,) and an estimated net worth of over $55 Million dollars (http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/dave-ramsey-net-worth/) can even entertain the thought that he knows what the “poor” people do on a daily basis. These “poor” people are generally the folks that make his breakfast every morning, wash his laundry, fix his automobiles, clean his house, maintain his lawn or are generally overlooked and under appreciated as he carries on his noble work of trying to make us all wealthy each and every day.

    I am a person that lives below the poverty line in a state that has a 19% overall poverty level with 27% of our children living in poverty. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-level-data-sets/poverty.aspx#.UqSsb-KMljI) Most of my family, all of my friends and coworkers….yep, we are all broke. My wife and I are both college educated (which we are still paying for btw), high school graduates that work hard but are forced to live as frugally as possible due to the lack of quality opportunity and banks/investors that are scared to take even a slight risk. We try and provide the best life we can with the circumstances we are given, we are not “takers” and don’t teach our children to be.

    I find it obscene that a person who lives here (http://www.coolsprings.com/news/dave-ramseys-house/) can tell me they know anything about living here. (http://usahitman.com/piatwlcia/) Things are never black and white. For someone to assume based on the opinions of a mere 300 people the situations of millions is laughable and only shows me Mr. Ramsey is talking out of his backside in order to sell more books.

  90. Pingback: 20 things the poor really do every day | Official Love Goddess

  91. We have been interviewing 100 families for a period of 12 months, collecting data about their lives . The 20 points raised in this article are re – inforced by our research .

  92. So much pride and vainglory. We are the richest nation EVER to exist. We can feed everybody, clothe everybody, house everybody and nobody would have to give up an X-box or a Porsche. If it bothers you that some of the poor people are just lazy takers, well then CLOSE YOUR EYES!
    Man, you folks better hope the atheists are right, because if there’s a God, an awful lot of you on this thread are in for a serious beat-down!

    • Agreed…there is no reason that the United States should have any hunger, lack of medical care, housing and education. The world is looking at us and laughing I’m sure that the United States is in such turmoil. It seems that we are becoming more and more elitist and shallow. We don’t appreciate culture or differences and have a culture of prejudice. It makes me sad to see this happening because to me diversity is what makes us unique and offers a lot more opportunities to grow. How can people claim to be Christians, yet they point fingers and mock those who don’t have. They call the poor lazy. They use stereotypes to make their points and not facts. Unfortunately those that have the income to help and make a difference are often times the ones who do not wish to assist their fellow man. Billions are spent producing entertainment in this country. Stars make more money that they could ever spend. Not only won’t the poor see those movies, but they will remain hungry and wanting.

      With the holidays coming, there will be many little children who will be told about Santa who brings all good girls and boys presents. Sadly, many of these kids will receive nothing. Think about foregoing something for yourself and contribute to someone else. My family has always done this, choosing to adopt a child each Christmas even though we don’t have a wealth of income ourselves. There is always someone who needs more than I. Let’s come back as a country to one of caring and goodwill.

    • 3:180 Those who are stingy with what God has
      given them of His bounty should not
      count that it is good for them; no, it is
      evil for them. They will be surrounded
      by what they were stingy with on the day
      of Resurrection. To God will be the
      inheritance of the heavens and the earth;
      and God is Ever-aware of what you do.

      4:37 Those who are stingy and order the
      people to stinginess, and they conceal
      what God has given them from His
      bounty. We have prepared for these
      ingrates a painful retribution.
      4:38 Those who spend their money to showoff
      to the people, and they do not
      acknowledge God or the Last day.

      9:76 Yet when He gave them of His bounty,
      they became stingy with it, and they
      turned away in aversion.
      9:77 Thus, they ended up with hypocrisy in
      hearts until the day they meet Him; that
      is for breaking what they promised to
      God, and for what they were lying.
      9:78 Did they not know that God knows their
      secrets, their conspiracies, and that God
      is the knower of all the unseen?
      9:79 God mocks those who criticize the
      generous acknowledgers for giving too
      much; and disdain those who do not
      have anything to give but their effort,
      God disdains them,

      25:67 Those who when they give they are not
      excessive nor stingy, but they are in a
      measure between that.

      47:38 Here you are being invited to spend in
      the cause of God, but some among you
      turn stingy. Whoever is stingy is only
      being stingy on himself. God is the Rich,
      while you are the poor. If you turn away,
      He will substitute another people instead
      of you, then they will not be like you.

      57:23 In order that you do not despair over
      anything that has passed you by, nor be
      exultant of anything He has bestowed
      upon you. God does not like those who
      are boastful, proud.
      57:24 They are stingy, and order the people to
      be stingy. For anyone who turns away,
      then know that God is the Rich, the

      • Allah, God, Goddess, Wakan Tanka, Krishna, Zeus, Ra, whatever… It’s just a name. Only a name. See what I mean about adding religion to the mix? The whole point of the discussion gets sidetracked in favor of whose version of religion is better. And then, of course, no helpful solutions are offered at all, because people have their shorts in a bunch about their chosen belief system instead of sticking to the original issue.

      • The arguments seems to focus on whether God expects us to feed the poor. Obviously the answer is yes. While a clear answer is not provided in the Bible, I have posted various references that God demands we help those less fortunate. We are created with the ability to know right from wrong. We all know that it is morally right to feed the hungry, clothe and provide homeless for the shelter.

        Human beings have different languages. We should not argue pointless issues. Read the verses and comment on them alone.

      • Jen, you miss my point. Not everybody is religious. Some people need to think they have a divine incentive to help the poor, and others do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. The earlier insistence on whether to call it God or Allah is just a small part of the problem of adding any kind of religion to the mix. (And I avoid reading verses, thanks. I prefer more reliable sources of information.) If people have something to say, they should say it themselves rather than parroting other sources. I am not convinced of the validity of an argument simply because someone quotes a source he or she deems holy. Rather the opposite, in fact.
        So yeah, humans have different languages, and cultures, and belief systems. None of which is the point. The point is helping people in need. Defending religious belief systems of one sort or another just gets in the way. What people think that “God expects” can be different according to their particular system. Now can we please stick to the point?

      • Whether I address you as Julie or Ms. Bloch, it is obvious that I am referring to you.

        What is your opinion on the verses alone?

      • Yes, it’s obvious you’re referring to me when you write either Julie or Ms. Bloch, but I seriously doubt anyone would get into a dispute about which is correct.
        Why do you care about my opinion of your verses?
        Why do you keep harping on religion instead of sticking to the point?

      • And being that the name of God is not actually “God”, which is just a generic term for ANY supreme being, and the word “allah” is similarly Arabic (Allahu, contraction of al-Ilahu, from al “the” + Ilah “God,”) for “god”, and is actually etymologically directly related to the Hebrew Elohim (which, if you knew crap about what you were talking about, you would recognize as one of the actual names of your Christian God) and thus all those words refer to the same subject, WHAT ONE EARTH IS YOUR (AMAZINGLY IDIOTIC) point?

  93. Whatever happened to emapthising with others, and caring for the members of our community? I’m living in New Zealand, but the one thing I see again and again on American sites that really sets them apart is the absolute callousness and bitter disregard for the members of their community in need – there’s this common attitude that “if you’re poor, you obviously deserve it” and that’s simply not true.

    The first rule of being a good human is to be kind to others – that’s what I was taught, and it seem to be lacking in so many. I find this very sad. I’ve been fortunate to have received a good education and earned well my whole life, but I’m also sensible enough to know that I’ve been fortunate – I *received* my education, my upbringing, I was raised by parents who were able to do these things for me, and I’m thankful for it. Not everyone is so lucky – maybe we need to have a bit more love for, and a bit less judgement of, others,

  94. Most of these comments are from a liberal driven agenda not truthful reporting. Send me a list of where they actually obtained this information.

    • Mary Ellen, By mentioning that this is just “Liberal” propaganda, it shows us two things. One: you didn’t read the supportive materials that Ramsey provided and two: You think that ALL liberals support the idea of helping poor folks and therefore are stupid. HMMMM

  95. Perhaps I am oversimplifying this, so forgive me. My intent is only to refocus this. We are not called to figure out why people do what they do. We are called to care for our brothers, widows, orphans. Our Father will take care of the correction and the judgement. We just do the loving while we are here.

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  97. A lot has been mentioned about what the bible says about poverty. It can easily be condensed into one virtue. Jesus said “What you do for any of these, you do for me.” There is no mention of becoming a “goat” if you don’t help feed the poor.
    It saddens me that there are so many who attribute the numbers of poor people to sheer laziness. I’m a community developer and have found that most of the homeless people we serve are elderly, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, single parents with more than 2 children and addicts (a serious disease.) Most of these folks will work VERY hard all day just help us. We give them clothing and food. Not because they work for us, but because they are human beings who Jesus asks us to love. There are only 4 employers in our big city who are willing to hire these people. Because we help them by allowing them to use our computers to apply, our phone and address to fill in their applications. If they don’t have this type of support and encouragement, they fall through the cracks and eventually turn to drugs/alcohol to suppress their fears and their pain. It’s tragic to see such fine people flushed down the spiral to loneliness and early death. Where is the compassion in our culture? It could happen to ANY of us at anytime. Our security in this culture is based upon having a good job, a caring family/friends and a phone. What would happen to you if you suddenly were with out ALL of these things for 3 months and your unemployment ran out? It would behoove you to volunteer at a ministry or agency that serves the poor. Talk with these folks, hear their stories. It will amaze you, when you hear what they are all about.

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    • While I know that there are plenty of folks who are in serious need, there are many who simply game the system. I don’t take issue with folks who need help, I have a problem with those who take advantage of the system. For example:

      In my hometown there was a lady with 4 children. She had lost her foodstamp benefits and was complaining about how she couldn’t feed her kids. Her spouse was deceased and the kids received survivor benefits. She received over $1400 a month in survivor benefits in the names of the children. She also received subsidized housing in the amount of $600 per month. She had free basic cable $65 per month. Each child receives medicaid, and she receives TANF, although that is limited. She earns $17000 per year or so, as a result she gets about $10000 in refundable credits come tax time. She gets free day care and a free cell phone (its a crappy phone, but it is free).

      I don’t know what else she gets, but I do know that she lives a hell of a lot better than I do. At least she does keep a full time job.

      • Do you think there are no rich people who ‘game the system’? If you do, then I have some oceanfront property in Nebraska I’d like to sell you.

      • @odp – I have a problem with anyone “gaming the system” … my point was that folks who take advantage when they really aren’t in need are the ones who cause bad publicity and problems for those who do need help.

        I have no problem helping folks – I work more hours doing charity than I spend working on a job for myself. A hands-on approach gives me a much better insight into how poor folks live and allows me to help them more. Sadly though, some folks don’t want help, they just want stuff.

      • How does she get free cable? I live in MA (liberal utopia) and they do not even give out free cable. Subsidies go by the amount of income you receive. You pay a percentage of your income in rent. If she is not working she should not get any money back from taxes. People on welfare who do not work do not qualify for earned income credit and child credits.

      • @Me13, starting from the top:
        The free basic cable is provided under a local program where low income families can qualify for free basic cable (no frills, no digital tier, no upper tier, no movie channels, etc.) If the family wants to add services, they have to pay for them, but they are priced on a sliding scale from 50% to 100% or normal rates. At many of the subsidized housing units, basic cable is provided to all units at no cost.

        My brother lives in one of those 2br subsidized units. There are three family members, himself, wife and adult daughter. Combined household income is just over $21k. His monthly rent is about $190. Similar apartments rent for about $800 a month.

        The woman in question works on a job and makes roughly $17k a year. With those numbers, $10k in refundable credits and taxes is reasonable and to be expected.

        Calculating a rent subsidy is relatively easy when you know the steps. Add up all annual income that is not excluded, subtract the exclusion amounts based on the number of people in the household. Divide the result by 12, multiply by 30% and 10%. Choose the larger value. Subtract the average monthly utility bills from the value, then subtract that value from the non-subsidized rent amount. The remainder is the subsidized amount. So, $1100 – (($30k (adjusted income) / 12 * 0.3) – $250) = $600.

        The numbers could be a little less or a little more depending on whether or not she can claim any child care expenses, transportation expenses, or medical expenses.

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  100. A mere year wait for affordable housing? Where? I realize you said a “year or more” but that means SOMEWHERE it should just be a year. The places I’ve lived it’s been closer to FIVE years or more and that’s WITH priority and IF you can even get onto the list – many places keep when/how they do list openings very quiet and on top of that select the actual people for the list by methods like “lotteries”. Which means IF you hear about it AND do all the paperwork, you’ve still got to be lucky enough to be picked – then survive what may be closer to a decade. Plus all that presumes there aren’t any funding problems or freezes that force them to put “holds” or “freezes” on the list, thus increasing the time you wait – this happens regularly in far too many places (and especially in recent years).

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  102. This is sad, seeing so many seemingly-educated people polarize and generalize about something as complicated and pervasive as poverty.

    Poverty is caused by a spectrum of factors. You can’t single one or two out and ignore the rest. All these factors, personal, ethical, racial, cultural, political, economic, systemic, etc., should be acknowledged, and their influence depend entirely on the individual. Because, generalizing about large groups of people based purely on their income is really just a game for self-deluding fools, desperate to validate their own tunnel-vision worldview.

    Special award goes to Jaze, for hardest-working with least intellectual advancement. Maybe you’re working too hard, or in over your head. Teaching is a demanding job, and you may be more comfortable working in fast food. Or perhaps you’re not really being adequately compensated either?


  104. One quibble: SNAP (food stamps) is called SUPPLEMENTAL nutritional assistance program; it is designed to make up the difference, not provide ALL of the food budget. Yes, it is an important program and good for both humanitarian and economic stimulus reasons.

  105. Thank you for this well-documented article. Having been raised in an upper-middle class home (though I didn’t realize it) in a large city, I now work among the poor-getting-poorer teaching history. It’s amazing the blindness to what our social structure and entitlement will make “Christians” say about the poor. Jesus had a lot to say about the hypocrisy of the rich and their inability to discern accurately. Sad to say, Scrooge is alive and well among us. Thank you, again.

  106. I can say that these are not all true facts. How do I know…..because I am poor and I receive food stamps. Yes, I work, and I do scrape by. I also vote in every election. I am for voter IDs, even though they do not require them where I live. The food stamps do not last all month and I have to use my own money but I also buy organic milk. I don’t buy junk food and we never skip meals. I also came from a solid 2 parent high middle class family. This liberal junk will brainwash you. Most poor people are ignorant. I know I have lived next door to them. They do not have the mindset to go to college and get ahead in life. They are content where they are. It is sad. I am in college and will get out of this situation because I want something better and thankfully I was raised by hard working people. Try living in the projects and then you will see how poor people really act and think. You will realize this list is BS.

  107. Interesting. I think the gap between the poor and the rich will start to decrease.
    Instead of going through formal education…becoming a product of society & just another worker, people are finding different ways.

    For example, I found a way to make money online with my WordPress site.

    A lot of people are becoming enlightened to the fact that the “American Dream” is getting harder and harder to achieve. The rich are working to keep themselves rich, helping no one in the process…

  108. It is horrifying to see the garbage being spouted by the commenters above. I have never been anything but poor. I have always worked; when I could find work. And after my daughter was kidnapped by a babysitter I chose to stay home and open a 24 hours per day 7 days per week child care. I was licensed. Shortly after I started this business I became a foster parent (due to one of my charges being beaten by his mother). I worked day care and foster care for 23 years. After that I began working as an Adult Foster Care Home manager. The biggest bone of contention I have is even though I was employed I still needed government assistance to survive. In Los Angeles I never earned enough to rent an apartment of my own, I always had roommates who were in the same circumstances as I. In 1994 I became disabled but continued to work for the same reasons listed above. I am now attempting to earn money via an ebay store, it helps a little. When people see me they see a white woman who is obese (I have been since I was 12–poor food availability so when it was available I overate) who uses a disability placard to park. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard snide remarks. Those remarks are about my obesity is my disability. Actually, I have an artificial knee, three herniated disks and am waiting to have a hip replacement until I am a little older. All of these injuries occurred while I was taking care of disabled seniors.My monthly income is $763.00/month and my rent is $495. I do not collect food stamps and I use my roommate’s computer because I could never afford one.
    This is not a sob story and I don’t want any sympathy. I thought my situation might offer some insight. BTW I only have one child.

    • I can’t deal with all the sanctimony from all these “heroes”. I was poor. Then I left a horrible job and got off my ass. I stopped borrowing money and put everything in perspective. Now, I’m paying for someone else’s car note through welfare (which is being spent too much on those who don’t really need it).

      Stop relying on others. Show up. Contribute. Worry only about those things that you can control. Those are some simple keys to success. Then, perhaps you’ll find yourself in a better position and you may even be able to help alleviate the problem instead of contributing to it. Those who are able should do that, but it’s amazing how that simple message is trashed and obfuscated.

      Why would you trust a government that refuses to take care of its veterans anyway?

      • I don’t trust our current government at all. But you are over simplifying an individuals ability to “pull it together”. I have always worked hard and still have need for some assistance. I have paid taxes, including income taxes and did so from the day I began working at age 12 right through my retirement at age 54. When I was 12 I worked 6 days a week/38 hours and contributed ALL of my income to my mother. She worked, dad refused to contribute to the welfare of his 5 children, and my job kept our family off of welfare. I have been unemployed by choice and have never received unemployment. I am proud of my working past and have no issues assisting those less fortunate than I.
        People need to get off of their soapboxes and remember that this hatred is unforgivable. When you give a man a fish he will eat one meal but if you teach him to fish he will not starve. This is also true when we endeavor to teach someone the value of good work ethics, and mentor him during his first year on the job (especially if he hasn’t held a job for quite a while); then ASSIST in the transition between needing government assistance to independence. Then and only then will we be successful stewards of our own abilities.

      • Well good for you Chris but did you have young children depending in you? Many poor do which makes it more difficult to change their life so quickly. Some people have disorders and issues they are also dealing with.

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  110. Interesting article, Ben. I want to point out that voter fraud does exist – I know, because someone tried to steal my vote in the last Presidential election by voting early under my name. However, Florida already has voter i.d. laws, so clearly that does not keep a determined person from impersonating someone else. (Of course, it also could have been someone working in the elections office. We’ve got plenty of election fraud here in Florida, which usually doesn’t seem to be committed by voters.) Anyway, from my experience I doubt that statistics regarding voter fraud are accurate. That’s because there doesn’t seem to be any single official organization to report cases to. So although I cast a provisional ballot and reported my case to my local election office, Election Protection, and the local FBI bureau, I would not be remotely surprised if it doesn’t exist in any statistical records.

    • Indeed voter fraud does exist. In my town, we had a local elected official whose wife was convicted of obtaining several hundred absentee ballots and voting as them and turning them in as valid votes. In an adjacent county, an elections official was convicted of supplying absentee ballots to a school board candidate.

      It is also the same reason why voterID laws can’t address every situation, but you can rest assured that there are folks who will vote early and often, especially if there isn’t some sort of mechanism in place to ensure the voter has the legal authority to vote in the prescribed election.

      • Choosing to ignore the voter fraud that does exist because one believes voter fraud is massively exaggerated is misguided.

        I found no less than 15 instances of voter fraud in my home state, and those were frauds that we know about. The improprieties come in all shapes and sizes; absentee ballots, ineligible voters, deceased voters, ballots not being counted, multiple voting, identity theft, etc.

        Granted, not all instances of voter fraud would be eliminated with ID laws, but a number of them are eliminated.

        Of course, one can easily argue that voter fraud isn’t rampant because most folks only hear anecdotal reports of fraud, many that turn out to not be true. However, we can never know how much fraud exists if nobody even tries to see if it exists. Such is the case where people have admittedly voted in multiple states, but only after an anonymous tip uncovered the fact.

      • Yes, exactly. The type of election fraud you’re talking about is typical of what we see here, as well as organizations that set themselves up to register voters, then submit a bunch of phony registrations. It’s mostly people trying to game the system from within, rather than a random person walking up to the polls with a fake i.d.

        Voters always have the authority to vote in an election, even if someone has voted in their stead. What happens is that you have to cast a provisional ballot, which you sign with your legal signature. Here in Florida, you sign underneath a statement attesting that you’re who you claim to be, and that you understand that casting a phony ballot carries a penalty of 2 years jail time plus a $10,000 fine. Apparently, this is also what early voters sign here (which is why elections officials told me it was highly unlikely that the ballot cast in my name was a mistake). Elections officials then compare the signatures on the ballots with the signature they have on file for you, determine which signature matches, and supposedly that’s the ballot that counts. However, when I was leaving my polling place, a woman representing an election watch organization advised me that provisional ballots often aren’t counted, and that I should immediately go to the elections office and complain. Which I think was pretty effective, since I was so upset that the young lady at the elections office who tried to help me practically started crying. I also think that reporting it to the FBI helped. Still, even though the official outcome claimed that my ballot was counted, how do I really know? I don’t.

        So I don’t think there are many people trying to vote often under their own name, partly because of the penalties and partly because only one ballot is going to count, regardless of how many ballots they cast.

      • Voting often under ones own name isn’t supposed to be possible when you vote in a single comprehensive jurisdiction, however, as is the case with part time residents or people who are bent on gaming the system, it is a relatively easy proposition in most states despite the fact that it is highly unlawful. For example, voting multiple times, especially for statewide and federal office is quite simple.

        Step one is to fill out a voter registration card using an address inside the jurisdiction … yes, I know, highly unlawful, but for someone who is going to vote multiple times, that isn’t an issue. Put a stamp on the card and mail it in. The elections office will never see the person filling out the card and will take it on face value that the registration is lawful.
        Step two is to repeat step one in a separate elections jurisdiction with a different elections supervisor, as such the databases will not be comingled.
        Step three is to repeat step one as often as you like.
        Step four is to fill out absentee ballots in one, some or all of the jurisdictions.

        Once upon a time, I had the supervisor of elections in my home town remove both of my sons from the voter rolls because they had both moved to other jurisdictions and were no longer eligible as electors in my county. Neither of them voted twice as far as I know, but I know both of them were concurrently registered in multiple jurisdictions; one within the state and one in another state.

        I believe it happens occasionally, but I don’t think so in places where there are voter ID requirements for in-person balloting. However, absentee voting is still way too easy to commit fraud.

        I’ve been on the absentee ballot canvasing committee several times and I have seen hundreds of ballots that have been disqualified due to the person having voted in-person, having an invalid signature or the person being disqualified because they were found to have been ineligible to vote for whatever reason.

    • Funny. You go on and on about how you KNOW voter fraud exists, yet then spend half your time going on about how hard it is to detect being an excuse for why there is no reliable data.
      Clue for you: if there is no reliable data, there is NO justification for instituting ANY policy to try to prevent it that might possibly infringe on any citizen exercising their right to vote.
      I.e., you are simply clarifying the claim on the left, that this new push for voter ID laws has NOTHING to do with curtailing voter fraud.

      • There is no reliable data because nobody is trying to compile it. Sticking ones head in the sand does not make a problem go away, it merely fills your ears with sand to drown out the voice of reason.

      • The voice of reason?!? You’re proposing draconian and drastic solutions to problems that you ADMIT you have NOT firm statistical evidence even exists!
        That said, it simply is not true that “nobody is trying to compile it”. Numerous attempts have been made by local and statewide, Republican-dominated legislatures to prove such fraud exists, to justify their newfound strategy to disenfranchise statistically heavily Democratic groups. I live in one such state. The “studies” they funded, even with grossly stilted data, STILL could not produce any evidence of statistically significant voter fraud. These studies were then hushed up, and the legislation (various voter ID and redistricting measures) pushed though anyway.
        Once again, you quite simply have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Unless you have data to back up your lie, I expect you to quit using it.

        Please provide a link to these “studies” with stilted data.

        Please provide a link to the evidence that these studies were then covered up.

      • First, you can not counter a call for citations with a call to citations. You have been asked to provide data to backup your assertions and anecdotal nonsense REPEATEDLY in this thread, and have failed to do so. Trying to pull the switch fools no one.
        Beyond that, several posters, as well as the author, have posted citations to studies that have looked at the issue.
        But nice red herring.




        As to “stilted data”, first, you appear to not know what the word “stilted” means, as NO definition of the term makes even partial sense in that sentence! Regardless, I never made that claim. I stated that the data from studies done did NOT support the claims, often of those funding the studies, that said fraud existed.
        If you are looking for the cover up, research Tom Corbett.

    • My father is single and lives alone. He spends less than $50 per month, but then he also buys things on sale and never buys things like boxed meals.

    • it is also easier to save when you have a steady income. You can take advantage of sales; have the decent spices to make the lesser quality meats taste good; buy in bulk. It takes money to make money, it also takes money to save money. Never mind being able to GET to the sales. The better your credit, the less your car insurance. Etc. it is a fallacy that if YOU can do it, a poor person can.

    • We eat of $400 for a family of 8. And it’s good food. For example, my wife just bought $600 worth of fruit for $100 and then canned it all. We’ll have great fruit to eat for several weeks.

  111. I think people are missing the main benefit and reason for Corley’s work. He was trying to give concrete, specific behaviors that people can adopt to lead to a better life. It’s true that many of us can’t achieve every single habit for a plethora of reasons, but at least we have a map. And even if we don’t get to a specific destination, we are closer to our goal using Corley’s map than when we began. I think most of us can admit (at least I hope we can) that what Corley’s outlines as good habits do likely increase the chances for financial survival. On the other hand, the bad habits mentioned by Corley either likely have no positive effect or even a harmful effect on the chances of financial survival.

    True, I would like to see a larger data pool, but a small data pool doesn’t automatically mean the conclusions are incorrect. Instead, it means more research is needed, but at least, there is some factual data to back the theory. So we should continue pursuing the inquiry until it proves incorrect. This is how many of our great theories began.

    And to be honest, before we scrap Corley’s work, I think it deserves a fair hearing because, since the 1960’s and LBJ’s “war on poverty,” our current method of unearned entitlements really hasn’t done a good job of ending poverty in the US, but it has a done a great job adding to our national debt. ,

  112. Is the $133 per person? Because it’s actually fairly easy to eat well on that much per month. We have 4 people in our family (granted two don’t eat much as they are 5 months and almost 2), and our food budget for all of us is $150 a month. We skip most sweets, chips, soda, coffee, pre-made foods, and going out to eat and mostly buy foods that are nutritious and filling (which includes plenty of tasty stuff). If we had $133 per person, or even just for the two adults in our family, we could be eating very well.

  113. The rich create nothing, they invent nothing, they call working Americans lazy 143 different ways before breakfast every day. Anyone who is not rich, you for example, you there, I can call you lazy, you’re lazy, see how easy that is? Yes it’s true, you are lazy. You are worthless. See how easy it is to say that? Anytime I need to disagree with you about something, we can start right there, you’re lazy, you’re worthless, you’re less than a person, so you deserve all of every form of predation you can get – obviously.

  114. I am a highly intelligent person. I completed a two year Associate Degree at age 40 with a straight 4.0 GPA. 12 years of working as an East Hampton real estate paralegal could not cure 16 years of bad credit from my domestic violence ridden marriage. That job went poof in the 2008 downturn. I found a local administrative assistant job for nearly half the pay and was this woman’s lackey for over 4 years. I am now on unemployment, about to lose that. As for being entrepreneurial, unless you have that wonderful product or fantastic business model, making great gobs of money require taking advantage of others. I can’t do that. All those ‘work from home’ positions consist of convincing other desperate people to send you money in hopes of that miracle.

    • I don’t know your particular situation, only you can truly know that.

      From your comments, I can only assume you are no longer associated with your abuser, and for that I can only applaud you for having the courage to take the hard road to remove yourself from the situation. Once upon a time, I was too cavalier with the whole idea of domestic violence even while I was in a not so dissimilar circumstance. Getting out of my situation was perhaps the hardest thing I had ever done … 16 years of being told how worthless I was and the constant threatening and belittling left me as a shell of a person. At the urging of a friend to remove myself from the situation, within a couple of days I found myself worried sick, not about me, but the abuser .. how did they feel? Why did I do this to them? I was moments away from running back arms wide open begging for forgiveness. It was a sobering moment .. the moment I realized I was indeed a victim. Despite years of telling others that they should just leave, I had absolutely no understanding of the mental toll abuse had on its victims.

      That being said, I also know now that people can sometimes fall into the poverty trap because they have a similar outlook on life.

      Don’t fall into that trap. You are obviously intelligent and despite a string of bad luck, you can certainly make things better. One day at a time and soon you will be beyond the struggles and you won’t know what happened.

      Whatever you do, do not take the low road and take advantage of others.

    • I know what you mean. I morally disagree with the majority of jobs left in the dire economy. I also homeschool my children to teach them morals and ethics. That is the reason I need internet, but I cannot afford to drive.

    • I do not use an iPhone, but my husband does. He needs it because he is actively seeking a living wage job! My husband did not have his college paid for by his parents. Our family of 4 lived off of 30K a year, even purchasing a house, without going on food stamps or other forms of assistance.. Well, when he lost his job things changed. He applied for hundreds of jobs, went to interviews, and even tried to work freelance, all while trying to find a way to pay the bills. More than a year later and still no work.

      Thank God he is able to get a full scholarship! He goes to a local community college in the evenings and tries to make money during the day. This college offers job placement upon graduation.

      • I don’t have an iPhone either, instead, I use a cheaper model phone with a $40 unlimited plan that allows me to do everything that a pricy iPhone does … and guess what, if I can’t afford the payment next month, I can just skip that month and pick it up the following month.

        My wife and I were both unemployed for two years .. not one penny of food stamps … we sold some of our belongings as needed and we made it just fine. It wasn’t fun, but it happened.

        We didn’t lose our house because we didn’t buy the size house the bank said we could afford … we bought less than half that amount. We also didn’t have vehicle payments because we pay cash for cars and keep them maintained.

        There are always options and people would be remiss to not try them, despite their ideological aversion to actually listening what someone suggests.

      • My husband does have an iPhone because it was given to him at his last job. He did not go out and purchase one. He actually wanted a cheap phone, but his boss made him get the one with messaging capabilities. Obviously, we would either buy an American-made phone or a secondhand phone if there was choice in the matter.

        We are absolutely on food stamps! I thought we were doing fine before, but it turns out we were already low income before he lost his job. There was not much that could be sold as we don’t buy anything we don’t need anyways. Almost every piece of furniture came from my husband’s parents. They are not replaceable and also fulfill a purpose in our house. We have one television which doubles as a computer monitor. Our house is worth less than 100K and we owed more than it was worth. I don’t see how you can sell one used car to pay one mortgage payment and have no transportation to school or work. So it is what it is.

  115. I have been reading many of the posts regarding the price of food and the availability of quality food at reasonable prices and I have come to the conclusion that either food in my area is really really cheap or the claims are not entirely truthful that one cannot purchase quality food at reasonable prices.

    After a trip to a local grocery store (not Walmart, Kroger or similar) I looked at my receipt for my purchases. I was quite surprised at what I saw.

    A dozen large eggs for $1.89, a 5# bag of potatoes for 1.99 (sale price), fresh ground pork (not seasoned) $1.99lb, whole milk $3.29gal. real unsalted cream butter 2.99lb. white bread $1.09 loaf.

    For comparison, lets compare this to a typical restaurant breakfast, although most folks don’t have everything on this list, they normally leave off one or more items. Personally, I have either potatoes or fried ground pork not both and most of the time I only have one piece of toast and sometimes only one egg.

    2 eggs – 0.315
    4oz fried potatoes – 0.0995
    2oz fried ground pork – 0.24875
    2 slices toast – 0.099
    2 tsp butter – 0.0623
    8oz milk – 0.205625

    Total cost – $1.030175 or roughly $93 per month for a family of 3

    A sandwich and piece of fruit is what I normally have for lunch, so …
    Same bread as above
    Kraft American cheese, not individually wrapped $3.59 (24 slices), sliced ham $2.99lb(coincidentally also 24 slices). Apples 1.79lb

    2 slices of bread – 0.099
    2 slices of ham – 0.249
    1 slice cheese – 0.15
    1/2 apple – 0.34
    water to drink

    Total cost – $0.838 or roughly $75 per month for a family of 4

    There is nothing typical about our dinners sometimes it is breakfast, sometimes it is a sandwich, sometimes it is a $4 frozen pizza.

    Also, many times we have a late breakfast and don’t eat lunch, for example, like today, I had two eggs, fried potatoes, toast and iced tea for a late breakfast and didn’t have lunch, so the numbers don’t exactly work out, but rest assured that we don’t spend nearly the amount that we have been led to believe is normal.

    Also, just to put things in perspective, we buy most of the food for our dinners from a delivery service that comes by twice a week. It costs a little bit more, but the portions are already sized and the meals are simple to prepare.

    Portion size is probably the reason for high food costs in most folk’s food budget and they don’t even realize it.

    • My family of 4 definitely does not eat like the average American family.

      Our diet consists of organic food with zero artificial color, flavor, preservatives, or chemicals. We are also restricted from from eating pork, and must purchase humanely treated and slaughtered meats. We receive full SNAP benefits and we use the full amount every month without going over.

      Eating healthy is possible for less if you have access to a good grocery store or know farmers that can take food stamps.

      We usually just eat 1 piece of fruit for breakfast. I often skip breakfast and snack throughout the day. The kids love carrots, beans, yogurt, seeds, nuts, eggs, and fruit for lunch. The great thing is that these foods don’t require cooking! Our main meal is dinner, which costs less to prepare for a family of four. We sit down to a large, filling meal together a couple hours before bed.

      Because I have Native American ancestry, carbs, sugars, and grains do not agree with my body. My family and I eat fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, seeds, oils, and meat. We limit the grains and sugars to a small amount.

      If the SNAP account is getting low I will fast that day or just have something small until dinner. Other times we have a bounty of fresh food and eat well. I would definitely prefer that my husband was able to find a decent job and I could stop messing with all the bureaucracy.

      The real issues are rarely addressed. Our country would be far worse off than Greece without the welfare programs. Our system of livelihood has been stolen from us by corrupt legislators. American wealth has been extracted into the hands of the international bankers and our jobs have been sent to China.

      As I said before, we must first reverse the policies that our wrecking America. After we kick out the federal reserve and toss out restrictive rules and regulations, the economy will start to improve. Once the job market improves and a middle class income is a possibility for any hardworking American- then, and only then – can we talk about decreasing benefits.

    • “The bible also says if one doesn’t work, he should not eat …”

      Yeah, no, it doesn’t. How convenient that you misquote the passage.
      Funny also how you bemoan the lack of sources, then post anecdote after anecdote, most of them doubtful (yes, I am calling you a liar) and yet fail to see the hypocrisy.
      No real surprise, there.

    • i don’t want to fill Ben’s site up with any more comments esp not quite on the blog post topic but maybe need to reply to this issue
      pork has growth hormones (and maybe mercury i have heard). (ham has salt. costs alot here.)
      cheese where i am is all full of salt (ingredients lists are in order of amount) (and not cheap), except one which is the most expensive. (they makers of that chees told me that the “cheap” 1kg blocks are made from the stuff they used to feed pigs with.)
      i seem to have a slight cow milk allergy and potato allergy. (plus cow milk has alot of copper. plus “whole milk” isn’t same as full cream milk. I also hear that some places fluoridate milk?)
      white bread? wholemeal bread is good. bread has water (fluoridated) often soy these days and other ingredients.
      apples here are often all bruised under the skin, and are sprayed unless can get “organic”. (no use peeling the skin off because skin has needed pectin.) Most fruit is sprayed by farmers (from the “first spray”) and supermarkets. Not to mention not know if the water was fluoridated.
      water here is fluoridated.
      tea has fluoride and i’m not sure if it is sprayed.
      were your eggs free range/barn (&/or organic) or battery hens?
      Pizza not very good ingredients….
      decent quality (& “organic”) food costs more than orthodox common “food”.
      you may be right to some extent about portion size but it is not easy for some of us to be able to get bulk or unpackaged food. Its the system’s fault for stupid small portion sizes and packaging etc.
      some areas don’t have near/local delivery services and they cost heaps and some have alot of packaging.
      you also have to take into consideration that it is not just the availiability in area but also a persons situation and condition, just like its not just the seeming price but the quality to consider.

  116. Thank you for writing this post!
    My family of three just cleared the poverty line because my partner’s wages were raised to $11 an hour. All three of us have food allergies (gluten, dairy, corn, nuts, and cinnamon), so buying super cheap stuff (spaghetti, frozen pizza, normal bread, etc.) really isn’t an option for us. Having food allergies makes it hard to afford a SNAP food budget. I have a laundry list of health problems (am waiting for my disability court date) that keep me from holding a job, so I stay home with our three year old son. My partner was unable to complete his degree and has thousands of dollars in student loan debt to pay as soon as our income increases. I have a degree but am unable to use it because of my health. We live in the cheapest apartment we could find. My cellphone is several years old and came to me through freecycle. My partner’s cellphone is several years old as well and doesn’t always work. We own one vehicle. My partner walks to work as much as possible to save on gas money. We have sold all of our “extra” possession at pawn shops multiple times so that we could pay bills. We don’t own a TV, cable, or even have Netflix. We all sleep and live in the living room because it’s cheaper to heat/cool only room. We’ve had to choose between using our last $10 for laundry quarters or more groceries – it’s a bad place to be.
    We don’t live frivolously and do our best with what we have, but it’s taken us awhile to get to where we are now. Hopefully a potential job will work out soon and we’ll be lifted out of this. If we do ever make it out, I will never forget what it feels like and will do my best to help those who are “poor,” especially those with food allergies.
    Please don’t look down on us and say hateful, judgmental things like so many commenters already have – that accomplishes nothing.

  117. Your amount of food stamps that a family gets is so incorrect. That may be the amount per person, but not a family. My husband runs a grocery store and most of his business comes from food stamps and not a single one of them get less than $200. A lot of them will spend $300 at one time and still have $400-$600 left on their food stamps card. Your source is simply the government trying to make themselves look better in a survey so we all don’t think our economy is bad.

  118. Thank you for accurately depicting my life! People who have never been poor don’t have a clue! As a person living with HIV I’m forced to stay poor to have access to medical care go figure!

  119. Ben, Thank you. I am a college educated, divorced, 57 year woman. I became ill several years ago (serious illness) I had to swallow my pride and rely on Social Security Disability (SSI). As an added benefit I receive $82.00 per month in food benefits and I am THANKFUL for every single dollar of that $82.00 monthly allotment. It means I am able to eat each month (maybe not every day-if I am not careful) My income is $700.00 per month.. by the time I pay my property taxes, home insurance, heat, electric, water & sewer bills I am in the red each & every month because I pay my bills FIRST.. However I am thankful I have a roof over my head, Yes, I have a home, it is a $30,000.00 home in a pretty tough neighborhood, where I call 911 to report gunshots frequently. Do people think I like living like this?. I would be a workaholic if my health allowed it. Again I have to rely on state issued health insurance (that I am thankful for) but must fight them at every turn. They decided a few months ago that I should only get 2 weeks worth of my medications not a 30 days supply.. Why? Even after years of documented records they now insist that’s the amount of medication I have always received. WHAT??? So, now I try to cut my medications in half because there simply is no money to purchase the other 2 weeks worth. Again do people really think I enjoy living like this???…technically my life rests in the hands of bureaucrats and I would change places with any one of them tomorrow if they would like..This is what being poor is really like.

  120. My response to many of the posts above: Ugh. Let’s do everything we can to discredit anything that says the poor might not be such horrible human beings. Sounds like what Christ would do. (I know, I’m being judgmental).

    • The poor aren’t horrible human beings, but a lot of them do continually make poor decisions. If we could resolve those issues, the remaining problem would be much easier to resolve.

      • Often times the choices available to the poor are a damned if you do damned if you don’t proposition. They do not have the same opportunities in any area of their life. A poor man running for office with wonderful ideas for change will not be heard. A rich man with questionable ideas will always win…we see this in Wisconsin where out Republican governor has caused a great deal of havoc and may have broken the law in doing so. He is winning because he is backed by the Koch Brothers who own more business/have more wealth than God. He wins, they keep their money and get richer…sickening.

  121. Jaze, What’s a “mute” point?
    I believe the word you were going for is “moot”. Perhaps have some intelligence before trying to speak.

  122. Pingback: 20 things the poor do daily | the gracious mind

  123. I may or may not be an idiot, but that does not stop you from being a liar. First, it is not jet about context, although you did, indeed, take the quote entirely out of context. And it does not matter that the quote can be applicable elsewhere, as that is not the context of the quote. Period.
    But more importantly, you ignorant liar, that is NOT what the Bible says. The Bible ACTUALLY says: If anyone is not WILLING to work, let him not eat. Note the extra words you conveniently omitted. They not only change the meaning of the quote, but ENTIRELY obliterate your argument.
    As to “doubting the veracity of the claim…” that is not your call. If you have any data to support your supposition, and to counter the mountain of data, already cited numerous times by others, that contradicts it, by all means post citations. Otherwise your opinion has about as much value as your ability to quote Biblical version on the internet. Zero.
    Beyond that, your critical thinking skills are evident in your idiotic example of the Vietnam vet. Beyond the fact that it is anecdotal, and singular, and thus of little probative value, I highly suspect that your friend started his business in an entirely different time, when capital constraints, not to mention availability, were ENTIRELY different than they are now. Beyond that, for every anecdotal story you give me of disabled vets who were able to overcome adversity I can give you three of completely able-bodied vets who still found themselves homeless.
    As for the rest of your utter nonsense, it just goes to support the idea that you have zero critical thinking skills. You know next to nothing about me, let alone what I believe, or how old I am. Your making conclusions about those things is telling regarding your overall penchant for making sweeping, unsupported assumptions, and your intellect in general.

    • What the bible does or does not say is irrelevant. There are many texts held sacred by many different peoples in the world, and they all have sound advice as well as utter nonsense in them. All of them. Instead of trying to bolster arguments with a text that people have used to support any number of mutually contradictory views, why not use present day research by respected scientists or other rational authorities?
      The bible is largely myth, superstition, and tribal taboos, and as such, is not a valid source of information. Using it as a source of reference will only impress people who already believe in it.

    • Any empirical evidence that I could provide would be dismissed by you as invalid. I accept that only because I understand your naivety, especially considering the only evidence you will accept is a link to some data or article somewhere on the internet. Sorry, that isn’t the way the world operates. Everything isn’t available on the internet. Sometimes you have to actually see the evidence with your own eyes .. eyes that will never see something a couple thousand miles away without actually going to where the evidence is located.

      But hey, look on the bright side, there is a great deal of information that is available, and you would be wise to know that.

      You are correct in your “willing to work” comments only to a point. The omission of “willing” was not intentional. While in your mind, it may have completely changed the meaning, it still does not change the attitude of a great number of folks who aren’t willing to work, in fact while I was working at a local employment agency a couple of years ago, I heard more times than I cared, that the only reason they were there is because if they didn’t come in, they wouldn’t get their check. The thing is, there were folks from all walks of life.

      While you may have a firm grasp of living in a city that I am loathe to visit, even if they have the best polish sausage in the country, what you lack is the understanding that this country is quite different than the myopic view which you enjoy. Perhaps in a few years when you realize that people aren’t the poor helpless folks they claim to be, you will wise up.

      When you realize the folly of your ways, I want to you remember these words … not every problem requires a solution and not every solution to a problem requires action.

  124. I wish voter fraud was indeed nonexistant. Your point about draconian is invalid, based upon the fact that I know multiple people in Chicago alone who commit voter fraud regularly. In the last presidential election alone, one person voted as herself and then again cast a ballot for her 4-years-dead grandmother; another co-worker voted once as herself, once as her 7-year-old son, and once more as another long-deceased family member; and finally a co-worker voted as himself, and again as his cat – and yes, he had a legitimate voter card for his cat.
    Voter fraud is very real, and is alive and well.
    Aside from your bad call related to voter fraud, having lived well below the poverty line for years, I agree with your list. I also will always claim that government aid will continue to enslave the people it is supposed to protect.
    I got out by moving out of state, moving in with family, and taking out $70,000 in student loans to cover my entire education while working a slightly-above-minimum-wage temp job 9 months out of the year.

    • You would be well served taking class in basic logic. First, your individual experience has NO relevance to whether or not the comment is valid. In fact, even if voter fraud was rampant, it would not make the statement invalid. Words have meanings, especially in restricted domain, such as logic, and you don’t get to arbitrarily assign them different ones. Beyond that, your anecdotal experience does not have any relevance to the truth of the statement, either, either that it is draconian, or that it is based on trying to prevent things that are statistically unimportant. Study after study has shown, repeatedly, that voter fraud is statistically as close to nonexistent as you can get.
      And all that is assuming your story is true, which I highly doubt. Unlike others, I will not mince words. You are a liar. Why do I go so far as to make this accusation? Because, voter fraud is a crime, and if you feel strongly enough about it to post comments to this article, surely you would have reported these incidents.
      Beyond that, you again make the same overgeneralization mistake. Your personal success says NOTHING about the general ability of others to reach that same success. To take it to the extreme, if everyone from your state followed the same path, they’d all now live in your current state, the job market there would then collapse, and all you’d have accomplished is transporting the problem across state lines.

      • So, you respond to someone who points out, with first hand knowledge, that voter fraud exists, and it can be shown to exists with ease (google is your friend), yet you purposefully change the scope to say that it isn’t rampant. One can only suppose that you acknowledge that voter fraud does indeed happen.

        The rest of your ramblings are incoherent and lack any substantive knowledge of the particular situation. You merely assume a position and launch personal attacks instead of addressing the issue; that being that voter fraud exists.

      • It is difficult to even reposed to your first point, as it is not even a real sentence. And yet you have the audacity to call my posts rambling” At least I can structure a coherent sentence, free from dangling dependent clauses. Nor was anything I wrote to him a personal attack, but rather an attack on bios lack of verifiable data, his poor logic, his incorrect use of terminology, and his utter failure to support anything he wrote with actual citations. Hmm, sounds just like you. You have been called out to provided the same since day one of this post, and have still failed to do so.. Second, Google is indeed my friend. It should be yours, too, as ANY search on the topic will give you links regarding research debunking claims that voter fraud is an issue at at least a 10;1 ratio to claims to the contrary, claims supported by ZERO legitimate evidence, and at most, nonsense anecdotal stories, like you are so fond of posting.
        And I did not just “assume a position and fail to address the issue. Unlke you and your baseless claims, I actually posted several citations to back up my points. All you have is anecdotal story time, and, comments that, quite frankly, are most likely lies.

      • It is apparent that you don’t understand English, therefore your assertions regarding what constitutes a sentence is invalid. In the previous post you continued with irregular sentence structure and ad hominem attacks while vehemently denying that you are doing it.

        Please lay off the copious use of commas, they are neither needed or warranted.

      • My personal experience is relevant because the author states that it’s very difficult to live under $4 of food a day. It’s not difficult at all and we eat very healthy. We eat more than the recommended allowances of fruits and vegetables. In addition, we eat no sugar, nor refined foods, nor soda and junk food.

      • I’m sorry, but again, no it isn’t.
        Your experience, where you are, has no relevance to the overall picture of millions of people where THEY are. You present NO data about the specifics as they affect people as they actually live, and actually, present very little specific information about how you live.
        So, again, yes, it is irrelevant.
        There is a reason why anecdotal “evidence” is not considered data.

      • Would I be correct in assuming you don’t believe it? Folks who are much smarter than you and I combined say it is true. Who am I to argue with a Yale PHD graduate and Professor Emeritus at Berkeley?

        I can support every one of my assertions. Feel free to take a trip to my home town and I’ll provide you example after example that are counter to your data.

        You see, the problem is that I don’t usually give out my personal information on the internet, so there is no way for you to verify whether I am being truthful.

        I can only assume how miserable your life must be lacking the ability to trust.

      • Ah, the good old logical fallacy of argumentum ab auctoritate. Wondered how long it might take you to whip that one out.
        Funny, after all the discussion about anecdotal evidence, you STILL try to support your statements with your personal stories. Pay attention: your personal stories do NOT support the assertion.
        Beyond that, even if it did, since you are not actually providing evidence that your claims are true, they wouldn’t count anyway.
        And yes, there is no way to verify your truthfulness. But your behavior here leaves me with little doubt. I’m okay making the leap of faith to the full-blown conclusion.

      • Ok, lets start from the top.

        The article postulates several scenarios, then the author links to other supporting documents that provide evidence to support the hypothesis.

        I think we can agree that is the case.

        Now, a number of people, myself included, have provided anecdotal evidence that you dismiss as being irrelevant and, well, anecdotal.

        Some of the assertions lay claims that can be shown to be inconclusive at best and patently false at worse. For example, poor people eat poor quality food “because they can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food”. The fact that poor people typically buy the same food from the same supermarkets as the vast majority of Americans disproves this argument without even a second thought. Now you might argue that folks with means can buy food at “whole foods” markets while the poor cannot because the cost is higher, but what you are really arguing is what constitutes “high-quality, nutritious food”.

        Regarding your continual badgering that personal stories do not support the assertion, I submit that the only evidence that CAN support an opposing view to a “one size fits all” statement IS a personal story.

        I say voter fraud happens, you say it isn’t rampant. Ok, so you don’t think it isn’t rampant. I happen to know that voter fraud does take place more often than you would like to believe. Rampant is a metric that we can discuss, but the non-existence of voter fraud cannot be debated. Fraud exists, pure and simple.






        Hell even the ultra liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow says that voter fraud exists.


        I could go on and on and on, but you won’t be convinced, so it is pointless to continue.

      • I’m sorry, but yes it is relevant. Maybe you should take a intro to logic course. But let me teach you the very basics about proofs.

        Consider the statement:
        A is true.

        Then to prove that the statement is not true, all that is needed is to provide a counterexample. In order to prove that A is true, it is a lot harder and yes, anecdotal evidence is irrelevant. However, anecdotal evidence is very relevant as counterexamples.

        If you would bother thinking instead of reacting, you might actually write something worth reading.

      • OMG, really?!? Since I, unlike you, actually DID teach logic, let me teach YOU the basics.
        You can only prove a statement false with a counter example if it is a universally quantified statement. Providing a counterexample for an existentially quantified statement provides NO useful information regarding truth. Your anecdotal data does NOT constitute ANY useful data in terms of refuting an existentially quantified statement, namely that for many, or even most, people, it is not possible to exist and prosper on income below a certain amount. Just because YOU can, where you currently are, given a number of other specifics it did not even occur to you to provide, says NOTHING about the topic under discussion.
        Besides which, your CLAIMS, minus and additional information about the specifics of those claims, are also not worth the words they are written with.
        As to your last bit, you might do well to consider your own advice.

      • HAHA. What did you do? Teach it to kids at a summer camp? I actually DO (not past, but present) teach logic, analysis and proofs. You are only partially right. A counterexample is for universally quantified statements. However, many of our statements are universally quantified.

        When I say, “Something is easy.” That means it is always easy. If not, then I would have to say, “Something is often easy,” or “sometimes easy,” or some other quantifier that would restrict the statement. Thus his statement, “It is not easy” is a universally quantified statements.

        Any moron would know that counterexamples are completely useless for existentially quantified statements. No, I’m not implying anything about you—except your subpar logic skills. I did not say I prospered on a low income, I only said I didn’t spend much on food.

      • Sorry, but what “many” of the statements are is irrelevant. The actual sentence to which you were replying was NOT universally quantified, therefor an existential refutation does not work. So you are wrong, by your own admission. Period.
        Your further explanation evinces the compete lack of seriousness or rigor in your replies. The “it” refers to a group demographic: the country at large. There for the statement “It is not easy”, referring to the demographic group, would NOT be universally quantified as the scope of the statement is over the group, NOT an individual. You remember scope of statements, right?
        I certainly hope you don’t pass on your poor grasp of first order predicate calculus to your students.


      Obed Matus (11 December 2013 at 17:00) writes, “My family lives off $1.66 a day of food. We spend $400 a month for eight of us.”

      Though I have not actually tried this myself, I believe that it can be done. A piece of fruit, a few greens, in rice and dried beans. Education—this knowledge of nutrition and cost—is a key element for beating poverty.

      What about other costs? What about housing? How much does Obed Matus pay for housing?

      Clothes, of course, can be cheaply, cheaply bought at rummage sales, if one can get to them.

      What else? Medical care? There’s always the variety of public assistance and emergency rooms.

      And what about education? The point of Mr. Irwin’s piece makes it seem that education—such as might elevate one out of poverty—may be a “luxury” that the poor can hardly afford.

      What else will Obed Matus share with us about his/her family’s budget?

      If the Right would admit how hard a life of poverty is (i.e., the point of this “20 Things” post), and the Left would admit how much of poverty (here in America) is a matter of ignorance and limited experience, maybe both sides could work to help end it.

      Outrage is easy, whether it comes from those of us on the self-aggrandizing Right or the self-righteous Left.

      (($; -)}

    • Great job! Since my husband and I are doing roughly the same thing (And we live in one of the most expensive states in the country) I think your point is completely valid. $4 per day is plenty, if you are buying real food and shop carefully.

      • “Great job! Since my husband and I are doing roughly the same thing (And we live in one of the most expensive states in the country) I think your point is completely valid. $4 per day is plenty, if you are buying real food and shop carefully.” See, you don’t get it. Shopping carefully? If you’re truly poor, you likely do not have a lot of choice as to where you shop. Gas, insurance, and even a used car costs money to get. And there’s only so much you can carry/cart with you if you’re taking public transportation. $1.66/day for eight people to eat off of? Sure, if there is some other way of supplementation. A garden, hunting, food banks. Which a lot of people who live in poorer conditions can not have! And if anyone in your family has dietary restrictions for health reasons, you can forget it.

  125. Thanks for pointing out the article and the web site.
    I would have been more impressed if you got the author’s name correct, it is Tom Corley, not Tim.
    The web site is http://www.richhabitsinstitute.com/
    I recommend that all your readers visit this site for some eye opening information.
    Thanks for giving this information more visibility.

    • I suspect the vast majority of the folks who posted about this article will not care one iota about changing their personal habits in an effort to improve their life.

      • I suspect you make up statistics on the spot simply in order to support your argument. And unlike your and your accusations, I have empirical evidentiary support.

      • Clearly you have no ability to discern the difference between opinion and fact. Your comment is a perfect example.

        Did you drink tonight? Your grammar is suffering, either that or your fingers are not playing nice with the neurological impulses sent from your brain.

      • Sorry, but the only counter argument is to post citations to disprove my assertions. You have been called on by numerous people to provide them,. And yet, all you post is nonsense.
        As to grammar errors, there were no such errors in the post you quoted. Care to differ? Quote the error and delineate what that error is.

      • So, let me see if I have this correct. Your liberal misuse of punctuation is perfectly fine because you say it is fine. Your use of anecdotal evidence as a counterargument is perfectly fine because the data it counters is a universally quantified argument.

        However, for some inexplicable reason, anyone else who uses anecdotal evidence as a counterargument to the provided data is dismissed as irrelevant.

        Apparently you don’t see the flaw in your logic. Perhaps too much Yuengling has clouded your judgement.

      • And STILL, no quotations of exemplars! I did not misuse punctuation. My use of commas is perfectly within standard acceptable usage, whether you like it or not.
        My use of anecdotal evidence to counter a UNIVERSALLY QUANTIFIED statement is valid, as discussed elsewhere, and besides, that counter argument was NOT the point of the statement in the first place. And yes, universally quantified statements can be countered by anecdotal evidence, as they indicate existential data points, even one of which disapproves a universally quantified statement, per se. This does not work in reverse. This is NOT inexplicable. It is a standard rule of logic. Which is why anecdotal dat a are not accepted as evidence in most studies, as the item being studied is NOT universally quantifiable.

        There is not flaw in this argument, your inability to follow it notwithstanding.

    • You do realize that the letter “o” is right next to the “i” on the keyboard, and thus the error was more likely a typo than anything else, right?
      Also, you realize that very few people actually follow through to source links, and that those who do are not particularly likely to buy the garbage he’s spouting? Guess not. But some bad news for you: don’t be holding your breath for a groundswell of support for this ill-informed views.

      • I find it insanely funny how in one comment belittle someone for a typo, yet in another you deflect criticism because hey, “the error was likely a typo”, particularly considering that you have absolutely no evidence to support that assertion.

        On the other hand, there is evidence that would lead any sane person to conclude that Mr. Ben Irwin did not simply make a type and instead simply got the name wrong; not once mind you, but at least three times.

        Perhaps defending the indefensible isn’t the best move.

      • Pay attention. I know this is moving really fast for you. (Insane is a good choice of words.)
        There is evidence to suggest a typo (which is exactly what I said, that a typo was suggested) in the latter example, and no evidence to suggest it in the former. Nor did I belittle the poster for THAT reason. No evidence?!? I POSTED the evidence! Proximity of the two letters, and their positions under the subdominant fingers of the dominant hand makes incorrectly subbing “i” for “o” very likely. Do I really have to post a citation to ergonomic studies?!? Google IS your friend (“Common typing errors”).
        And then you give the perfect example: “On the other hand, there is evidence that would lead any sane person to conclude that Mr. Ben Irwin did not simply make a type [sic] and instead simply got the name wrong…”.
        I would also guess that THAT is a typo (though you think you’d be a bit more careful, given the topic) due to the transcription error of subbing a vowel from the subdominant hand to that of the opposite hand, due to mirror proximity on the top row, in addition to being triggered by muscle memory of another word form, and I would not accuse thou of a spelling error. If you had spelled it “tipe”, however, I would NOT make that same assumption.
        Perhaps making accusations you can’t back up, and either outright lying or ignoring those things that contradict you, isn’t the best move.

      • I am just using your logic, as false as it is.

        So, here is my proof, whether you choose to accept it or not is your call.

        There are at least three places on this page where the Tom Corley’s name is spelled as Tim. While I might be amiable to there being a single typo on the page in this regard, having multiple instances negates that theory, unless Mr. Irwin has some propensity to consistently mistakenly type Tim instead of Tom, which you cannot substantiate.

      • First of all, one of those instances is an auto generated topic linker, so it does not even count. Second, as I have already made clear, top row subdominant finger substitutions are one of the most common causes of typos, so actually, I can substantiate, at least to a degree necessary to cause pause before making blanket accusations. There is a reason why certain typos, such as “teh” for “the” and “type” for “typo” are so common, as I have now stated twice.

      • First of all, it isn’t an auto-generated topic linker. It is a tag that must be manually typed by the author of the post. It is basic WordPress functionality.

        Secondly, you have provided no evidence that even suggests that every time a person types a word that it will come out incorrect. Instead, you say that “i” is next to “o” and that muscle memory can cause people to mistype words. Both of which are true, but considering that “Tim” is probably not high on the repertoire of common words being typed by the masses, one would have to conclude that neither muscle memory nor inadvertent mistype would cause a consistent mistake.

        You can repeat your belief all you like, but it doesn’t make it truthful.

      • Yeah, I said far more than that. But maybe the words had too many syllables for you. Also, it has nothing to do with whole words, but kinesthetic chunks, and “i” for “o” is a common substitution. As already stated repeatedly. Not that any of that has much to do with anything, as nomenclature errors are not of the same nature as spelling errors.

      • Yes, nomenclature errors are not of the same nature as spelling errors. That being said, the issue about the target’s name being typed incorrectly, not once, but at least three times, is NOT a spelling error. It most likely stems from a lack of diligence or a lackluster memory. Considering the spelling was the same every time, I would lean toward the lackluster memory excuse. He apparently thought the guy’s name was Tim, not Tom.

        It is an easy mistake to make, but that doesn’t make it a spelling error.

      • Yes, I was just wondering if Mr. Ben Irwin had permission from Dave Ramsey to use his copyrighted graphics on this blog.

        Because the image is not the subject of the article, fair use does not apply. Clearly Mr. Irwin is stealing the intellectual property of Dave Ramsey.

      • So, we can add copyright law to the list of things you know little to nothing about.
        Care to hazzard a guess how long it will be before the author is sued for use of that image?
        Please, hold your breath.

      • Not enforcing your copyright does not mean you abdicate it. Similarly, not prosecuting your neighbor for stealing your newspaper doesn’t mean it is OK to steal your neighbor’s newspaper.

        But you live in a grey world where copyright is probably the last thing you care about. Do you have an ASCAP or BMI license for Karaoke? If not, then you are in violation of the law, and you had better believe the RIAA does prosecute.

        Whether Ramsey sues Irwin or not is immaterial, the act itself is the crime, not the prosecution of said crime.

        FYI, I know quite a lot about copyright. If you ever have the misfortune of being on the wrong end of a lawsuit, you too will learn a lot about it. Personally, my copyright knowledge comes from the prosecution’s side of the aisle.

      • First of all I am not talking about enforcement, I am talking about the fact that there is no copyright infraction here.
        Also BMI and ASCAP licenses are not given to end purchasers of karaoke but rather to the track producers, which is why BMI/ASCAP have NEVER sued a end user for pirated karaoke content, but rather track rights holders such as Karaoke Locker (formerly Sound Choice). As an end user, you purchase copyright to THEIR particular version, and beyond that, the courts have actually been less than helpful. This is why Sound Choice was forced to resort to suing over use of their trademark, having gotten little traction in court over the tracks themselves.
        But yeah, let’s go even further off track.

      • So using the image without consent, if it was indeed used without consent, isn’t copyright infringement. Please explain why it is not.

        As for karaoke tracks and being licensed to use them, I am well aware that that maintaining an ongoing relationship with a track supplier can remove the requirement to hold a license from BMI or ASCAP, but that isn’t the case with Karaoke Locker. In fact all of the tracks from Karaoke Locker are for private, non-commercial use only. Playing them in a public forum would violate the TOS and open the performer up to lawsuits if a valid PRO license is not held by either the establishment or the performer. For your own protection, I’d suggest you make damned sure that you are licensed.

      • Sigh, first, the ignorance of your statements are completely at odds with your claims to work in copyright law. If you did, you would know that five general categories of purpose exempt articles from copyright, namely:
        1. Comment & Criticism
        2. News reporting
        3. Teaching
4. Scholarship & Research
5. Reviews:
        Any halfway competent attorney could make the case for any or all of these five.

        Second, no ongoing relationship absolves an end user from copyright infringement for karaoke tracks (it does not work the same as standard BMI/ASCAP licensing, as has lardy been pointed out to you, unless you are playing from a streaming service.
        Third, I brought up Karaoke Locker as an example of a rights holder, specifically one that is lawsuit-happy, NOT as an example of tracks you can use for public performance. As has become a mantra with you, please quote where I say what you are implying I said. I didn’t so once more, good luck with that.
        That said, I DID bring up Sound Choice in that context, whose online licensee, Karaoke Locker, was used in the previous example. Sound Choice tracks ARE licensed for public performance, so my use of them in my example above is perfectly sound, and, once again, you are shown to not know what you’re talking about. SC is famous for their litigiousness, as well as their failure to actually prevail using the standard track copyright gambit, as explained above, and contrary to your claims, due to the tenuous nature of their claim to copyright in the first place. This is why they have switched to their latest tactic, which is suing over copyright and trademark infringement/denigration for display of their graphic logo, which they DO have rights to.
        Nice try, though.

  126. It is difficult for the poor to get full time jobs because with ObamaCare coming my company no longer wants me to schedule my employees over 28 hours a week. The government tends to hurt the ones they try to help.

    • They aren’t trying to help anyone. They are trying to shut down the American economy. They know exactly what these policies will do. Watch out for the new secretive trade deal that the Obama administration is trying to push through. It is like NAFTA on steroids.

  127. I am not American. I came to America for my education a few years ago. I am really surprised by that so many Americans have no empathy for their poor counterparts. It doesn’t happen in my country. There are always going to be some lazy people who abuse the social welfare, but there are a lot of them who well deserve the support. Saying that the poor is bad or the poor deserves to be poor is such a terrible and wrongful accusation.

  128. You are truly clueless. As someone who spent years of their career working in a homeless shelter, I can assure you, your list in no was accurately depicts the life I someone living in chronic poverty. At least if they listened to Ramsey’s advice they could educate and better advocate for themselves. Your naive and idealistic views benefit no one. Maybe you should spend your time and energy analyzing why they continue to make poor decisions that exacerbate their own cycle of poverty. It’s obvious that you don’t have much experience with the chronically poor and homeless.

    • As someone who actually knows many people who have been homeless, and calls them friends, let me assure YOU that NOTHING on that list would help ANYONE pull themselves out of poverty, let alone find them housing. Your simplistic views benefit no one. Maybe you should spend your time and energy analyzing why this economy that was supposed to lift all boats still keep adding to the ranks of the poor, unemployed, and hom