5 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2022
    1. One dominant way that people think about poverty, both in scholarship and in publicdiscourse, is to focus on demographic characteristics. This explanation assumes thatthere is something wrong with poor people’s individual characteristics: that they aremore likely to be single parents, they are not working enough, they are too young, orthey are not well-educated. So, the way to attack poverty, from this perspective, wouldbe to reduce single-parenthood or reduce the number of people with low education. Thisexplanation concentrates on the individual characteristics of the poor people themselvesand how they are different from nonpoor people.The problem with this explanation is that it does not adequately explain thebig differences in poverty between countries. For example, think about the big fourindividual risks of poverty—single parenthood, becoming a head of household at anearly age, low- education, and unemployment. These are indisputably the four bigcharacteristics that predict your risk of poverty. If the demographic explanation iscorrect, then the United States should have very high levels of single-parenthood, youngheadship, low educational attainment, and unemployment. That would explain why wehave high poverty: We have a large number of people with those four characteristics.The reality, however, is that the United States is actually below average in these areascompared with other rich democracies.
    2. One of the most enduring poverty myths across the political and ideologicalspectrum is that if we were able to provide individuals with enough educationand skills, poverty could be eliminated.
    3. A final point regarding the myth of hard work and poverty is that this mythis particularly powerful because it implies a sense of justice and fairness. Thosewho do well in life through their hard work are seen as deserving, and thosewho do not do well in life through their lack of hard work are also seen as de-serving of their fate.14 There is something comforting about the idea that peopleget their just rewards. Unfortunately, neither the world nor poverty is fair. AsMichael Harrington wrote in his 1963 book, The Other America:The real explanation of why the poor are where they are is that they madethe mistake of being born to the wrong parents, in the wrong section of thecountry, in the wrong industry, or in the wrong racial or ethnic group. Oncethat mistake has been made, they could have been paragons of will and mo-rality, but most of them would never even have had a chance to get out ofthe other America.15
  2. Sep 2022
    1. sociologist Elijah Anderson’s memorable phrase, the “iconicghetto.”
    2. The underlying theme tyingthese myths together is that poverty is often perceived to be an issue of“them” rather than an issue of “us”—that those who experience povertyare viewed as strangers to mainstream America, falling outside accept-able behavior, and as such, are to be scorned and stigmatized.

      One of the underlying commonalities about the various myths of poverty is that we tend to "other" those that it effects. The "them" we stigmatize with the ills of poverty really look more like "us", and in fact, they are.

      Rather than victim shame and blame those in poverty, we ought to spend more of our time fixing the underlying disease instead of spending the time, effort, energy, and money on attempting to remedy the symptoms (eg. excessive policing, et al.) Not only is it more beneficial, but cheaper in the long run.


      Related:<br /> Gladwell, Malcolm. “Million-Dollar Murray.” The New Yorker, February 5, 2006. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/02/13/million-dollar-murray (.pdf copy available at https://housingmatterssc.org/million-dollar-murray/)