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Old 08-21-2014, 12:18 PM   #21
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I think the key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty is for people who can't afford kids to stop having them.
Totally agree. I recall seeing TV shows about families hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Some of them included multiple families moving into the house of one of them who had not suffered as much financially. In some of these segments, the boardering families included infant children who were born after they moved into the house and at least a year after the breadwinner(s) lost his or their job(s). I would scream at the TV, "WHY did you have another kid when you were already struggling so much financially?" I have no sympathy for people who intentionally worsen their economic situations with this kind of irresponsible behavior.
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:14 PM   #22
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Poverty is not a cause of the problem. Many children are raised in poor surroundings, but still have loving and nurturing parents that share good values onto their kids. I have also seen a number of very well off parents that do a sad job of parenting and the kids turn out to be worthless and get nowhere.

TravelOver mentioned money poor, but values rich. That says a lot right there. But, I understand what Sarah means by being too worn out from work to pay any attention to the kids. It's a vicious cycle. There's a lot of that going around.
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:46 PM   #23
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We had a Guidance Counsellor where I went to high school. Back then I had no understanding of what a GC did. I had some vague notion that if you had some personal problem, bad home situation, etc. you would seek him out for help.

I was one of the top students in my class. Never, not once did he meet with me to find out my post HS plans. Sometime in the very end of my senior year, I heard or read something about scholarships, so I asked him if there were anything available for me? Nope, nada...too late to look into anything.

Now, I wonder what the man did to earn his salary? If he had no interactions with me, I'm pretty sure he was equally unhelpful to those who drifted through HS. I was "lucky" I did well in school & had a career goal. I'm sure only a small fraction of my classmates went to college right out of HS. Very few technical schools were around at that time.

I think education is much more important key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Yes a teen can start of with a big strike against her/him by having a baby too young, but given the right support & education, it might not turn out they live a life in poverty. Likely, too, they will have a lot more empathy for others' struggles.
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Old 08-21-2014, 01:54 PM   #24
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I escaped my working class childhood via the Navy, then paying my way through college. I credit DW for having higher expectations for what I could achieve than I had in my early adulthood. (We married very young like many servicemen.)

Though my siblings are ok, they are not financially successful and will be wage slaves their whole life. But they are raising their children well.
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:34 PM   #25
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It takes drive, determination, ambition and a proper environment to do it. Unfortunately, our social welfare system does not encourage anything but dependency.
Quoted for truth.

Even in the most poverty stricken neighborhood schools, a kid can get an education and learn. I firmly believe education is the key to get out of poverty. Parents that value education will instill this in their children and break the poverty cycle. Speaking of parents, having both parents present is a big factor in children's success; not the only and not guaranteed, but certainly can be a very positive influence.
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:47 PM   #26
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I also consider myself to come from a dysfunctional family. Parents divorced when I was five. My mother was a poor, uneducated southerner who did not know how to manage money and had some mental problems. We six kids suffered as a result. She worked nights and we were left to fend for ourselves and look after each other - I missed about half of grades 1-4 as I stayed home babysitting for my younger brother. My older brothers were becoming hoodlums and my older sister married at age 15 just to get away from home. My dad was a POW in WWII and came back with a drinking problem. Luckily he finally got his act together and got custody of us. He was a hardworking midwesterner who emphasized how important it was that we go to college unlike my mother's family who felt that only "rich" people should attend. Three of us were able to graduate and have done somewhat well in life. My oldest sister worked for the state government starting in her teens and did ok financially but was never able to overcome her childhood issues - had several divorces and died an alcoholic in her early 60's.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:24 PM   #27
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I recently attended a working breakfast at our Urban League here in Chattanooga. There were a number of presentations by the United Way, 311 Call Center, etc., but the talk of the day was how you get people out of poverty and the entitlement cycle. At the end of the program I guess I came away with three things, good family values to include discipline, education and employment oppurtunities. Also came away with our policiticans are not a solution, they are part of the problem. A comment was also made that future prison populations are calculated by third grade reading proficiences. I don 't know if that is true but I would not doubt it.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:50 PM   #28
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One of the difficulties that I have had in this situation is a result of how we all frame our successes vis a vis others' successes and failures.

For instance, if I look at my family and see that I am successful but my brother is not, then it is natural that I interpret this as my having had some characteristic or characteristics that made me successful. I don't take issue with this, it is a natural part of how humans view their own behavior.

The comparison that needs to be made in this situation is much more difficult for people to see (and is much more difficult to make) because it is not usually easily brought to one's attention. That is, the question is not why I succeeded and my brother did not. The question is why did my brother fail when someone else's brother with similar innate abilities succeed. This is the issue that needs to be addressed in our conversations about poverty. It is too easily confused with the first because it is easy to see examples of the first, but it is harder to see the second.

One small aspect of this was captured in my mom's conspiracy theory that all the doctors' and lawyers' kids got special treatment. As I have come to learn (being college educated myself) it is not that they "get" special treatment, it is that their parents know what kind of treatment to ask for. So two kids, equally capable, equally loved, may not succeed equally because one set of parents does not have the experience to help them that the other set has.

My brothers and I missed out on a lot of opportunities because we and my parents did not know what opportunities were there. I succeeded despite missing these opportunities, but if my family had been aware of those opportunities, my brothers might have succeeded as well. This is what we need to figure out how to address.
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Old 08-21-2014, 03:56 PM   #29
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IMO, some are born into rough circumstances and no matter what it's impossible to dig out.
Very true. I grew up in ghetto and don't see how some of kids can break the cycle. All they see from day one is what's around them: drugs, prostitutes, broken families, .... Shoplifting comes naturally. Fights are required. Skipping schools and getting into trouble are part of growing up. Before a kid realizes he's in trouble, it is already too late and not much can be done.

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But for others, so much has to do with how one applies him or herself. So many times, in families, brought up in similar backgrounds, there's one sibling who made it by hard work and another that barely gets by. This isn't all luck or bad luck but the choices in life.
I made it out of the said ghetto b/c I had what others didn't - motivation to break the cycle, "academic brain," hard work, and a bit of dumb luck. But this is not easy, especially, in countries where government & people with power don't care about the poor.
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:01 PM   #30
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Read Nickeled and Dimed in America? The poor get hosed, and it takes some kind of stability, whether the military, a healthy relationship, a mentor, finding a stable job, etc to break that cycle. And then having the intelligence to recognize what needs to be done.
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:32 PM   #31
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Read Nickeled and Dimed in America? The poor get hosed, and it takes some kind of stability, whether the military, a healthy relationship, a mentor, finding a stable job, etc to break that cycle. And then having the intelligence to recognize what needs to be done.
Yup, very well put. This is true in America but not so in 3rd world countries, It takes a bit more miracle and dumb luck to break the cycle.
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:46 PM   #32
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Exactly. Lots of people love to use the fact that they didn't grow up in an "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Father Knows Best" type of middle class, happy, encouraging family, as an excuse for their lack of initiative and accomplishment in life.

But who did? Nobody that I know of.
My kids!
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:47 PM   #33
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My kids!
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:52 PM   #34
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I've often wondered how well I would have done if I'd been born into real poverty, not just the "working poor" that I was.

But my parents made all of us go to school and church. We had a house, and cramped as it was, nonetheless it was stable housing. We had food to eat, more chicken than beef, but we didn't go hungry either. My dad had a steady job with the power company, mom later with federal government in addition.

At the time of course I had no clue as to how valuable all of that is.

And we had viable choices. At 18 I was seriously torn between enlisting in the Air Force or going to community college. I chose the latter, but suspect the former would have had good results too. And I picked a career with an employer that had a good pension plan, which admittedly I gave absolutely no thought to when I applied there at the age of 22.

My two sisters are doing okay. One married well the second time around to a wonderful guy with an old-time federal pension so financially she's set. Younger sister is hanging in there, divorced but making it and she'll get the comfortable pension of her ex from a 20-year marriage when he passes, which won't be long because he's high-risk for diabetes, heart disease and a couple other things.

At the gym today I overheard a conversation about conditions on an Indian reservation out west. Not good, evidently there aren't many good choices, and no easy escape. Or at least not that many people take advantage of.

If people don't know that there even is a way out, let alone how to do it, how can they be expected to do so? If they've never sat at a keyboard, how could they be expected to apply for a better job or college?

And I think of DW's grandnieces, ages 8 and 4. Stable family, good values, a bit cramped on housing but that doesn't matter in the long run. Both can use a laptop after a fashion and use a smartphone to some degree. Even the little one knows enough to call grandma on one. (That's a cute story!)

How can someone who has never even seen one outside of a TV show learn how to use it?

How can someone without those advantages ever find a way out? I suspect that's why here in WV a the choice for a military enlistment or career is widely respected, much more so than where I came from. That's been the ticket out of poverty for millions of people.
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Old 08-21-2014, 05:13 PM   #35
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My brothers and I missed out on a lot of opportunities because we and my parents did not know what opportunities were there. I succeeded despite missing these opportunities, but if my family had been aware of those opportunities, my brothers might have succeeded as well. This is what we need to figure out how to address.
This was my parents also. Well intentioned but both grew up rural poor and even though my father eventual got a masters degree very late in life, my mother only finished 10th grade. Neither of them were sophisticated enough to know how to "manage" their children's education in our overcrowded working class suburban school district. My father's entire school (K-12) had less than 100 kids. My graduating class in HS had over 500.

It was ok for me because I had some personal capabilities that my younger brother didn't have. He spent several years in prison and even now can't hold down a good job (no substance abuse but just a lack of life skills and "gumption"). He is now 38.

I remember my 8th grade counselor telling me that my dream of being a computer programmer was unrealistic. Instead of college prep courses in high school he convinced me to take the vocational track--basically preparation for either the trades or the steel mills or the military. I went Navy but then (because of DW) did well in college afterwards.

25 years later I had not only became a successful computer programmer, I owned the company that 49 other computer programmers worked at. Several of those people came from elite colleges and prep school backgrounds but I was the boss. :-)
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Old 08-21-2014, 05:44 PM   #36
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If people don't know that there even is a way out, let alone how to do it, how can they be expected to do so? If they've never sat at a keyboard, how could they be expected to apply for a better job or college?
This is what people living in "ghetto" faces. When living in such place, there seems to be no apparent way out. Even if there is, it's difficult to follow the path as you will stand out like a sore thumb. Moving away from the environment is one viable option and I can see why people take the military option. I too faced the option of joining Army or going to college away from home. I took the latter and it worked out for me. For my siblings who didn't move away didn't fare as well.
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Old 08-21-2014, 07:41 PM   #37
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And I think of DW's grandnieces, ages 8 and 4. Stable family, good values, a bit cramped on housing but that doesn't matter in the long run. <>
How can someone who has never even seen one outside of a TV show learn how to use it?
In the cities anyway I don't know who might be poor enough to not have smartphones in their home. I see people everyday chatting on their smartphones while buying groceries with their SNAP cards.

Ha
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Old 08-21-2014, 09:04 PM   #38
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We had a Guidance Counsellor where I went to high school. Back then I had no understanding of what a GC did. I had some vague notion that if you had some personal problem, bad home situation, etc. you would seek him out for help.

I was one of the top students in my class. Never, not once did he meet with me to find out my post HS plans. Sometime in the very end of my senior year, I heard or read something about scholarships, so I asked him if there were anything available for me? Nope, nada...too late to look into anything.

Now, I wonder what the man did to earn his salary? If he had no interactions with me, I'm pretty sure he was equally unhelpful to those who drifted through HS. I was "lucky" I did well in school & had a career goal. I'm sure only a small fraction of my classmates went to college right out of HS. Very few technical schools were around at that time.

I think education is much more important key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Yes a teen can start of with a big strike against her/him by having a baby too young, but given the right support & education, it might not turn out they live a life in poverty. Likely, too, they will have a lot more empathy for others' struggles.

Interesting thread. My experience was mixed. My dad was professional (chemist for an oil company) and 2 out of his 3 sisters married well. My mom spoke of her childhood poverty yet my grandmother who divorced in 1935 had a nice house in the Avenues in SF. I grew up being told I would obviously go to UC Berkeley.

My parents started drinking heavily every night when I was 11 and argued loudly most of the time when they were drunk. I was at the top of my class in every subject from first grade on. Decided to get out of high school a year early but at 16, a Merit scholarship finalist, my parents suddenly refused to pay and said I had to go to community college after I had received my acceptance letter.

On top that, I met twice with my so-called guidance counselor during high school, once to take two classes at the same time (permission granted) and once when I tried to find these so called merit scholarships.

My sister majored in engineering, also to secure her future, hated it and became a nurse instead. I went into medicine, largely because it is financially secure and benefits society.

We benefitted from having to be adults from middle school on. And we had some very good friends, with decent parents, who helped us cope.

My parents reined in the drinking in at appropriate times and my father was very respected at work. And they left a larger inheritance than they intended, for which I am grateful. I think they began to understand the pain they caused when they became grandparents.


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Old 08-22-2014, 07:04 PM   #39
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This thread finally enticed me to register. I've lurked for a long time. I have seldom felt I had much to contribute. I never made huge amounts of money, but I did quit working at 55, I am nowt 61 and quite happy with my early frugal retirement.

One of the things that the article didn't address but that I think plays a big role in moving up the ladder to a better life is cultural. I grew up in the 50 and 60's in a poor 2 parent household. My dad was a dry alcoholic. He never drank, but he had most of the behavior of an alcoholic. He always reminded us that if he wasn't responsible for all of us, he would be able to go down to the bar and have some fun....

When I said I planned on going to nursing school, I was subject to lots of awful remarks and opposition. . My Dad was livid, Did I think I was better than him? He also quit talking to me on many occasions while I was in nursing school he would tell my mom that it was because I had said something disrespectful to him, now that I thought I was soooo special... He obviously felt very insecure.

If he was the only person I would have written it off, but it came pretty much in every direction. I would go to family reunions and some aunt would say, well I suppose after you get your degree you won't bother coming to this humble house, you'll be to good for it... The adults in the neighborhood made demeaning remarks.

I worked after school in the kitchen of a nursing home. They really gave me a lot of grief. I was the first person who had ever worked there who ever thought they were too good and had plans to become one of "them", as the shift nurse was "over" anyone in the kitchen.

I kept walking, good thing I was an introvert...When I graduated I mover 500 miles away.

Years later a physician I was working with asked why I didn't become a Dr as I was plenty smart. I told him a little of this and said it was probably a big enough step as it was.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:21 PM   #40
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Welcome! I understand where you are coming from - my Dad was pretty supportive but Mom's message to all of us kids was, "Remember, you're no better than anyone else." She had the ability to grind any accomplishment down so that you didn't feel like it meant much. This message was also widespread among my acquaintances and their families. A related example: somewhere along the line, I realized that if I didn't talk like I was a hick from the Ozarks, I might get a little more respect from people who could provide me with opportunities. So I worked very hard on my speaking manner and it really did work. But I caught so much flak from friends and family that it was not an easy decision to keep it up. I already related the story of my grandmother's message for me on the way to college. I am sure that my choices of major, employment, spouse, and living location all reinforced her belief that I was going to hell. That remains to be seen, but I have certainly lived a much more secure life because of the choices that I made.
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