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Why The Poor Are Poor (It’s Their Own Fault)

May 26, 2022

I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor – Rich is better.
– Mae West

Like Mae West, I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Mostly rich.

If you have enough money to pay all your wants and some of your needs. . .you are rich. Richer than the majority of people in the world.

The poor don’t want to be poor. I’ve never known anyone who wanted to be poor. But, there are times where they just can’t help it.

One of the best descriptions of ever heard on why the poor remain poor had to do with boots.

A poor farmer needed a new pair of boots. He had two choices. One set of boots were $30. They were well made and would last at least 5 years. There was another set of boots that was only $10. They were poorer quality and would typically only last a year.

The poor man, of course buys the cheaper boots. His neighbor, a rich man buys the $30 nicer boots.

Every year, the poor man’s boots wear out and he has to buy a new pair. Of course, every year he buys the cheap books that wear out after a year. The rich man’s boots last for five years.

At the end of five years the rich has spent $30 on boots. The poor man? $50.

And that’s why the poor man stays poor.

I’ve always enjoyed the Steinbeck class, “The Grapes of Wrath.” At one point, the Joad family ends up in California working in the fruit orchards. The family, of course, has no money. So, the company provides them room and board, on credit. But, what becomes obvious as the harvest continues is that the money from picking peaches never equals the cost of room and board.

The longer the Joad family works, the more in debt they become. They are poor and the system makes them poorer. Like the poor man’s boots, the get more behind every year.

I’m not sure how this example compares to modern poverty. Perhaps those who feel they have to use the cash advance from Credit Card A to pay the bill on Credit Card B. I’ve been there. Running out of money before I ran out of month.

I was able to escape the cycle of poverty. But, it gave me a great appreciation for those who are struggling to get by.

It may be their fault. But, I don’t blame them. No more than I blame the man buying $10 shoes, or the Joad family, just trying to get enough food to get ahead.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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