Poverty

 

J.D. Pendry

 

A little sleep, a little slumber,
       †††† a little folding of the hands to rest-

    †††††††††† and poverty will come on you like a bandit
       †††† and scarcity like an armed man.
†† Proverbs 24: 33-35

 

Do you know what I find amusing?Listening to Yale and Harvard graduates debate the plight of the poor with Hollywood millionaires.Poverty sucks, but to truly understand it requires more experience than listening to a liberal arts educated journalist (education paid for by Mom and Dad) talking about it on the evening news.Living it is much different from watching it on television.When we flip the channel, weíre in the recliner watching football on a 42-inch flat screen.The poverty we observe doesnít change channels Ė or at least it doesnít seem to.I donít want to get into one those discussions where we all try to convince one another that we had it tougher, but let me share.Iíve lived in a house with no plumbing.I had two sets of clothes, one for school and one for other stuff.We didnít have gravy and biscuits every morning because we loved them.We had them because it was two variations of something we did have Ė flour and water.That was standard in Wyoming County West Virginia in the early 60ís.Itís when the Kennedyís visited us during JFKís presidential campaign and Jackie lamented how she just couldnít believe that such poverty existed in America.If you traveled there now, a lot hasnít changed.Except that most everyone has plumbing.

 

Donít you find it interesting that since we started LBJís war on poverty that the same percentages of people year after year remain at or below the established poverty level?If you scan the numbers from 1969 to 2004, you might easily argue that itís getting worse.I believe our war on poverty has become a quagmire and we out to consider withdrawing from it.Or, minimally we should re-look our strategy.

 

I can take you back to the place of my raisiní and show you generations of the same families that havenít sought education and have existed for years on government programs like food stamps, supplemental security income and welfare.Whatís also interesting is that you can point to the same factors across the country to explain poverty.If politicians were serious about winning ďtheirĒ war on poverty, theyíd do something more than throw money at it in the form of federal government anti-poverty programs.

 

I read an interesting article by Michael D. Tanner of the CATO Institute.Since he or someone at CATO did the research, I donít need to.I suggest you read it.He aptly points out the prominent factors contributing to poverty.Over reliance on federal and state anti-poverty programs, lack of education and children born out of wedlock.

 

Actually, Iím not altogether lazy.I was doing my own research when I encountered Mr. Tannerís article.Thereís lots of interesting statistics at the US Census Bureau website.For example, did you know that 57.2 percent of households with a female head and children under 18 years of age are below the poverty level?If you look at our population, of those 25 years old or older, you learn something else interesting.8.5 percent of that population without a high school education is at the poverty level.That number drops to 4.5 percent for those with a high school diploma and practically nil with college.I looked at the poverty levels by state and found that the three most affected by Katrina were three of the top four in poverty level.Naturally, their per capita state income is relative to that.

 

Iíll attempt a laymanís interpretation of the quoted Proverb.If you do nothing to help yourself Ė like go to school Ė then poverty will own you.If you donít change your approach to life Ė having too many babies outside of a family and other poor decisions Ė then youíll risk losing the little you do have.I read some articles earlier in the week that illustrate poor decision making.Some of the evacuees (canít refer to them as refugees) used the debits cards intended for necessities to buy luxury items like Louis Vuitton handbags at $800.00 a pop.Then I came across this interesting piece about the cards turning up in Houston strip clubs.

 

After reading those articles, it didnít surprise me hear the excitement that among the first things to reopen in New Orleans will be the bars in the French Quarter.I also was not surprised that one of the biggest fears is that terribly honest Louisiana politicians Ė who of course hold no responsibility for the current state of affairs Ė might loot billions of dollars of hurricane relief funds.

 

and poverty will come on you like a bandit
       †††† and scarcity like an armed man.

 

Copyright © JD Pendry

 

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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone

 

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