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Old 01-05-2010, 08:31 PM   #21
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"One of the strangest things about life is that the poor, who need money the most, are the very ones that never have it."

Mr. Dooley

"As a general rule, nobody has money who ought to have it."

Benjamin Disraeli
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:31 PM   #22
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I think these are valid reasons why people aren't rich, or "well off". I don't think they even touch on why people are poor. Poverty is overwhelming, and if you are born into it just trying to keep your nostrils above water takes an immense amount of work. That work negates almost all of the 10 items listed in the OP. There are a few people, who through luck or extreme desire, are able to overcome the handicap of being born into poverty, but not many. In cases like Gumby's grandmother, people can usually work themselves back out of poverty in a generation or so because they have the basic knowledge of how not to be poor. But those who are born into poverty and who's entire history is impoverished don't have those skills, and are very lucky if they can break the cycle.
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:39 PM   #23
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About what Harley wrote, yes, it is difficult to rise out of it if one is born into abject poverty. We still see a lot of that in 3rd world countries.

I may have a very sheltered life, so do not know if there still are Dickensian poverty cases in the US. It seems to me we have made great progress in welfare and aid programs to the poor. Am I wrong?
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:46 PM   #24
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I grew up poor and so have most of my relatives. Unfortunately, most are still poor. It seems at some point they decided life wasn't going to get any better, so why should they bother trying to get ahead. Once their minds were made up, they stopped looking to the future. I suppose for them, it was easier to do nothing than to face the possibility of failure. In my opinion, it was all about fear.
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:49 PM   #25
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I may have a very sheltered life, so do not know if there still are Dickensian poverty cases in the US. It seems to me we have made great progress in welfare and aid programs to the poor. Am I wrong?
JMO, of course, but I don't think welfare raises people out of poverty. It can give them a better version of it, but unless they learn how to work, show up for a job, accept responsibility, etc, they aren't going to move forward. There are families who have been welfare recipients for 3-4 generations, and whose members don't have a clue how to do these things, as there is no one to teach them. So I'm not sure how much it has helped.

As far as the Dickensian poverty, I went to college in SW VA, and many of the Appalachian people I saw down there would feel right at home with Fagin and Oliver. Sad.

And that's just in this country. Overseas is immeasurably worse. Of course, I don't have a solution. I wish I did. The poor will be with us always, as it says in the good book. All you can do is try to help where you can. I just got a little annoyed at the glibness of the OP. It listed a number of secondary reasons, but ignored the most important (the birth lottery).
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:55 PM   #26
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From things I have read, there seems to be real evidence that early stress does real damage to people's brains. Some can re-wire, if circumstances permit. Most have real trouble.

Add the culture around you to the mix, and -zap- you are stuck.

(Before we get all "Well, I'm not like that...", think about all you know, and had to learn - the hard way? - about delayed gratification and long-term planning, and written investment goals with rebalancing, and all that other stuff that is specifically designed to try and overcome our brain's short-term biases!)

getting off soapbox now,
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:04 PM   #27
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JMO, of course, but I don't think welfare raises people out of poverty. It can give them a better version of it, but unless they learn how to work, show up for a job, accept responsibility, etc, they aren't going to move forward. There are families who have been welfare recipients for 3-4 generations, and whose members don't have a clue how to do these things, as there is no one to teach them. So I'm not sure how much it has helped...
Ah, but that was what I mean. That is, there are now opportunities, unlike the US in the early half of the 20th century, or the present-day 3rd world countries. It is a problem, but we have to admit we do not know how to solve it.

As for the OP post, it is still useful to many who are not in the absolute bottom of society, meaning not like those folks in the Appalachia where Johnson launched the War on Poverty. Those secondary reasons, though nothing that the typical forum member doesn't already know, would be worth repeating to people like my own kids, for example.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:14 PM   #28
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I think these are valid reasons why people aren't rich, or "well off". I don't think they even touch on why people are poor. Poverty is overwhelming, and if you are born into it just trying to keep your nostrils above water takes an immense amount of work. That work negates almost all of the 10 items listed in the OP. There are a few people, who through luck or extreme desire, are able to overcome the handicap of being born into poverty, but not many. In cases like Gumby's grandmother, people can usually work themselves back out of poverty in a generation or so because they have the basic knowledge of how not to be poor. But those who are born into poverty and who's entire history is impoverished don't have those skills, and are very lucky if they can break the cycle.
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About what Harley wrote, yes, it is difficult to rise out of it if one is born into abject poverty. We still see a lot of that in 3rd world countries.

I may have a very sheltered life, so do not know if there still are Dickensian poverty cases in the US. It seems to me we have made great progress in welfare and aid programs to the poor. Am I wrong?

Good posts. My parents were born in the 20's in a pit town in England and very poor. In 1939, at 14, my Dad went down the mines like all young boys of the time and place. It was bloody awful conditions and he worked alongside pit ponies under the North Sea earning a pittance digging coal. The town was also a harbour and they had the sh*t bombed out of them as well. Growing up in the 50's and 60's I could still see the gaps in the pit houses where the bombs had taken their toll. Up until the age of 6 we lived in a shared house, occupying 2 rooms and sharing a small kitchen with only a stand pipe in the back yard plus an outside toilet shared by the 2 families of 4 that lived there. I have many happy memories of that place.

When over-run with rats, we then moved to another pit-owned house in 1960 which was absolute luxury in comparison as we had 2 bedrooms upstairs and and 2 rooms down stairs plus an attached outhouse that had a sink with cold running water. The toilet was at the bottom of the back yard and bath time was once a week when a tin bath was hauled in from the yard, placed in front of the open coal fire and filled with hot water heated in kettles. At age 14 there were now 4 children and we had converted one of the down stairs rooms into a bedroom, plus that year (1969) we had a bathroom added upstairs with hot water heated from a boiler at the back of the coal fire - still no heating anywhere else in the house other than the single coal fire downstairs but we thought we'd died and gone to heaven.

My mother cleaned houses and my Dad worked down the pit doing as much overtime as he could, and they gave us a fantastic childhood and attitude to life. The UK had an excellent welfare scheme that supported families like ours in that we got subsidies for school uniforms and school meals and at age 18 when we qualified for college the state paid the fees and provided money to get by on.

I am very well off living here in the USA and my brother likewise living in Australia. My 2 sisters are still "working class" but well above the poverty line and extremely happy with their "lot". All of us are a million miles away from what our parents went through. Just a week ago I was sorting through my Dad's things after he died (aged 84). I knew that we still had rationing in place through 1955 but seeing the used ration books that they had to live with made it all very real.

Like our parents, all 4 of us kids found "soul mates" as life-long partners at an early age and all have enjoyed long, happy marriages to date.

Apologies for the long post but I just needed to get that out
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:34 PM   #29
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...
Apologies for the long post but I just needed to get that out
Iím so glad you did, my friend. 21 days left! Please tell us everything; how is it at work these last few days and how the transition will go, and record those first days/months of RE, so soon.

By the way, I think this is the original article:

http://www.lifestylepublishing.com/a...%20Success.pdf
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:43 PM   #30
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The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various gov*ernment reports:
  • Forty-three percent of all poor households actu*ally own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are over*crowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

link to the full article is here: How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague" of Poverty in America
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:49 PM   #31
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The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various gov*ernment reports:
[LIST][*]Forty-three percent of all poor households actu*ally own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
....
I wonder if that is "own" in the sense of having a mortgage or a paid off house. Same question for air conditioning, tv, car and so on.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:52 PM   #32
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I wonder if that is "own" in the sense of having a mortgage or a paid off house. Same question for air conditioning, tv, car and so on.

Good question.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:54 PM   #33
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I think it takes being born in the right conditions and finding that right mate. I got real lucky and got the last one and the rest just fell in place
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:07 PM   #34
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The Census questions what the mortgage terms are on owner-occupied houses.

2005 National Data Chart for Owner Occupied Housing Units
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:10 PM   #35
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Re: the census, I think that comparing the "average" American to people living in European cities is a mistake. Think Houston and Paris. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison; average US vs. avg. European would be better.

As for poverty, whenever I look at someone (like the ex-roomates I've mentioned before) and can't figure out why they're poor, I try to remember that we are not all born with equal gifts. Not all those gifts are financial, either.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:11 PM   #36
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The poor I know are often not able to earn money. Permanently disabled from birth, or elderly without pensions or even with pensions. Some are simply starting out with nothing and haven't found their way yet. Everyone in my family starts out with nothing. Most haven't gone to college until they are older and join the military or just take the first job they can get. Then things get better my brothers were in the air force 20 years or the navy 9 years starting at 18. The one in the navy finished with a wife and kids were 7 and 5. They moved across the country with no jobs to go to or unemployment since they both quit jobs to move. But they were able to borrow the down payment on a house and he got in the union dad was retired from. They were still poor but in a house. She earned nothing a couple of years then 2K a year working 2 hours a day. Then they got poorer because she wanted to go to college. Now after 41 years and not special luck good or bad they have kids 37-40, have moved to better houses twice and own a business. His wife has enough credits for a doctorate and teaches for the last 25 years. He retired from the union at 58 and runs the home based business. She has had a couple of BMWs and they can afford anything they really want. The Air force brother finished his 20 years with a 2nd wife and 8 kids, he is now married to wife #3 and lives in a motel he manages. At 62 he is still broke even after mom let him live rent free for more than 10 years. He didn't have special luck either just no ambition to have things.

My neighbor tells me she is low income, she owns her house out right and condo. Her house is beautiful with a perfect yard. You wouldn't know she was poor. I don't know if she drives anymore but she takes the bus to the condo everyday so not much need to drive.

Mom is poor or was until last year. She has a tiny pension and a little SS and some interest income. She hasn't seemed poor either. She sold her house last year so has that income now so probably not poor. She rents from my brother who was in the Navy and at 83 can afford anything she wants.

The government calls these old women poor but with a paid off home, paid for car and enough cash for anything they might want they can have 30K income and feel rich.

The hard one to overcome is being born handicapped. You can't work even if you might have a good day where you could earn a little money. If you inherit money you can't take it because you lose Medicaid if you have more than 2K.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:20 PM   #37
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... But to me these words are fairly hollow when they come from someone who grew up with all the advantages and can't relate to what it's like to grow up impoverished in a broken home and rough neighborhood, where surviving and putting food on the table today are the primary concerns, not saving for junior's college fund.
I grew up in an impoverished broken home. My neighborhood wasn't rough, but it wasn't ideal. Having enough to eat was a major concern. I'd often go out at night to get food from garbage dumpsters. Lots of other interesting stories.

I have two brothers. One makes about $10K/yr (poor) and the other about $35K/yr (blue collar middle class). I make a little under $200K/yr. We came from the same stock. Went to the same schools. Had many of the same teachers. The opportunity was there. It was just a matter of accepting it.

I believe that 90% of poor adults are poor due to their own choices. In the United States, pretty much everyone has the opportunity to obtain at least a middle class income and lifestyle. Yes, it's certainly true that the children of poor parents are more likely to become poor adults, just like the children of middle class parents are more likely to become middle class adults. I believe the biggest disadvantage the poor have is their inability to realize that they do not need to remain poor. This can manifest itself in many ways.

One of my high school friends, whose father was a doctor, once told me that it wasn't until 8th or 9th grade before he realized that not everyone went to college. He just assumed college was a natural extension of high school. I was the opposite. It wasn't until 8th or 9th grade before I realized that it wasn't just the very rich who went to college (without an athletic scholarship).

It's not a lack of opportunity, at least in the United States. It's about perception and personal choice.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:46 AM   #38
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I'm sure we all know folks who are poor for reasons OTHER than the 10 listed in the OP.
All generalizations can be picked apart. The real question is whether there are any learning points in the OP. If you reject the 10 items, so be it. If, however, you find them to ring true, perhaps there is a way to educate people at an early age so that they are not as likely to fall into the negative behaviors listed.

I don't have any particular insight into the validity of the list, but they do ring true to me in my experiences with friends and relatives. I always thought it was too bad that our school systems didn't address some of these exact issues. Heck, my high school never even taught us how to use a check book. Imagine the surprise of some of my class mates when they got their first checking account and found out they actually had to deposit money in the account before they wrote checks. I'm not kidding. I knew at least one guy who really didn't understand this. He wasn't stupid, but he was uneducated.

I guess I'm suggesting that the list may have educational value if we don't reject it simply because we either don't "like" it or know someone who doesn't fit it.

Just my 2 cents worth - FWIW
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:24 AM   #39
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Sometimes being unlucky can make you poor. A younger friend spent his late teens and early twenty's partying and being carefree but realized at about 26 he had better get his act together and got started on a promising career path. Office politics and a couple of mistakes destroyed his supervisor's career. My friend wound up as supervisor. A few years later he was forced to resign due to office politics and vengeful upper management. His reputation was basically intact but for some strange reason no company that had dealings with his pervious employer would hire him.
After a year or two he has another career path underway and he is rear ended by a driver with no insurance and no assets. He is slowly recovering but the savings are again gone after several months.

A relative diagnosed at 36 with MS. With two children and a mortgage becoming a one income family with medical expenses is not going to be pretty.

I can keep this up for a while but there are just as many that are lucky but most do not realize it.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:26 AM   #40
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Iím so glad you did, my friend. 21 days left! Please tell us everything; how is it at work these last few days and how the transition will go, and record those first days/months of RE, so soon.

By the way, I think this is the original article:

http://www.lifestylepublishing.com/a...%20Success.pdf
Thanks for the link Joe, and I will start a thread on my countdown to RE.
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