Avoiding poverty by staying in school, getting married and delaying childbearing?

This article argues yes.


Well, um, thats not exactly rocket science. But it’s also not that easy. Essentially, this article says that if the symptoms go away, there won’t be any problem. Well, duh.

Staying in school is good. Why do people drop out of school? It’s often because they need the money they get by working to help out with their families, they have not been brought up to value education, and their schools do not provide them with a future. This is a series of cycles. This isn’t going to go away by wishing it will go away.

Getting a job seems obvious, but it’s not that easy. First off, the economy right now sucks. I just graduated from college, and I have a full set of resources (computer, decent clothes, regular accesss to shower, ability to write good resume) and I’ve been looking for a job for three months and despite several interviews I can’t even get a minimum wage job making pizzas or shilling tacos. It really is that bad.

Secondly, who is going to watch the kids while everyone is working full time (This guy’s brilliant answer is ‘don’t have any’, which isn’t much good to those that are stuck with them)? How are you going to get to this job? Where are you going to live when you can only afford houseing on the outskirts of town so that you have an absurd commute? What happens if you are physically ill? What happens if you are mentally ill?

Most the people I know that are chronically unemployed have a bigger deeper problem (like some kind of illness, or having to take care of ill family members) that the Atlantic doesn’t seem to acknowledge much less resolve.

Getting married is nice. But it’s not like you can marry any person off the street. And not having kids is nice. But having kids young is widely a symptom of not seeing a future outside of your hometown. People have kids young because they want to “get on with their lives”, and they don’t see any life short of that. This needs to be solved, not just wished away.

I have bad feelings about work being linked to welfare being a euphamism for cheap labor. I agree that the purpose of should be to encourage its recipients to be able to support themselves, but I beleive that over time they should be encouraged to become more ambitious and eager to expand their financial, social, intellectual, career (etc etc) horizons. I dont think it should be a situation where welfare programs become systems whereby nearby mcdonald’s finds employees who can barely subsist off of their wages, then since they have a job they are cut off from all assistance. In other words we should construct a welfare system that promotes upward mobility, and not an anchor that keeps people at the lowest levels of subsistence.

The Atlantic article included this:

Jobs that match the actual qualifications of the jobless poor people? Do enough such jobs exist? I thought the main problem was the lack of such jobs. Year after year, large numbers of young people emerge into adulthood unprepared for any job but an unskilled job – and there are just not enough unskilled jobs to go around.

It seems to me that if we are to reduce poverty, we need to either create a lot of new unskilled jobs, or decrease the number of people who are unqualified for any job but an unskilled job.

It would also help, IMO, if we could find ways to increase the amount of inexpensive housing. According to Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Erhenbach, the lack of affordable housing (and especially, the lack of affordable housing near to job locations) is often the biggest problem faced by the poor.

I’d say, the news isn’t that we don’t need to spend money on welfare, the news is that we need to spend money on different things. Probably more money than we’re spending now. We need to create unskilled jobs, upgrade substandard schools, provide free daycare, create inexpensive housing, beef up mass transit (another stumbling block for the poor is the necessity of buying a car and keeping it running, because there’s no other way to get to work from where they can afford to live).

And more than anything else, Hazel, promote family planning. Family planning doesn’t cost money, it saves money.

even sven:

But where is the sense of personal responsibility? Why aren’t we insisting on it in no uncertain terms insted of playing warm and fuzzy? My #1 beef is that liberals coddle those who have mistimed births while conservatives do their utmost to stamp out family planning.

You wouldn’t call “free daycare” welfare? And while it is possible for the free market to create “inexpensive housing”, if it’s subsidized, then that, too, is welfare.

Avoiding poverty by staying in school, getting married and delaying childbearing?

Sky blue?
Grass green?
Ocean watery?

Here is the thing: What is the cause? Is it the former causing the latter or the latter being part of a general subculture that ends up causing all the former?

You started this thread, so what do you think?

Yes, sure, those things would be a type of welfare. I’m saying that it sounds as though we need to spend money on different things. Those different things would constitute a different kind of welfare. A kind of welfare that might do a better job of getting people off welfare.

But in the case of housing, there’s a great need for inexpensive housing. Why is the marketplace not meeting this need? It used to. I think. Didn’t cities used to contain plenty of small, cheap apartments? And rooming houses? And SRO hotels? (SR0 = Single Room Occupancy.)

Theres also a great need for cheap gold but the markets not stepping up to fulfil this need either.

The attitude in this thread is, “Well, that’s obvious, but it’s also beyond our control.”

The fact is, the article is dead on, and most of the people who don’t take this advice aren’t just victims of fate, but people who make BAD CHOICES. For every person who drops out of school because his family circumstances demand it, there are probably 100 who drop out because they’re lazy, they’re partying, or they are simply bad stewards of their finances and get themselves in trouble.

For every person who gets divorced because they’re in a relationship with an abusive person or for other unforseeable reasons, there are 100 who get divorced because they don’t work hard enough at the relationship, or because they married someone they shouldn’t have out of convenience or weakness.

For every person who simply cannot find work despite trying their best, there are many who can’t find work because they’re lazy, or because they have hot tempers and quit easily and have a poor track record, or because their idea of looking for a job means sending out ten resumes and laying around the house waiting for phone calls that never come, and then giving up.

I’ve seen a number of my friends destroy their lives exactly like this. I have a friend who had two children and a good husband. They owned their own business and she was on track for a nice, upper middle class life. Then she decided her husband was dull and her life unexciting. So she left him. Then she started hanging out in bars to meet people. Picked up a video lottery habit along the way. Blew her divorce settlement money. Now she works as a day laborer making minimum wage, and living in an apartment with her deadbeat girlfriend who doesn’t work.

Another friend got married at 25, had a child, got a job as a tradesman making $35,000. As a wedding present, his parents gave him a down payment on a house. One day, he told the foreman to go to hell during an argument, and quit. Couldn’t find work for several months, got behind a few house payments, and started putting pressure on his marriage. He got another job, and instead of bailing himself out of debt used the money to buy himself some new toys. Then he quit that job. This time, he lost the house. His marriage went on the rocks. His wife eventually left. Now he was without a job, saddled with child care payments, and with no assets. He’s now 44 years old, and just starting to get his life back together.

From what I can tell, most people who are poor in a rich society are poor because of bad choices. In Canada, cigarettes are $10/pack. And yet, the poor are the biggest smokers. How can they afford it? How can someone making minimum wage afford $300/mo for cigarettes? They can’t. They live beyond their means, get themselves further in debt, and doom themselves to a life of poverty.

‘Everyone knows’ that it is stupid to maintain credit card balances. With interest rates approaching 20%, you’d think that anyone with credit card debt would go without anything but food and shelter until the debt was paid off. But they don’t. Bad decisions.

I think what Sam Stone said.

It doesn’t mean I don’t want to help out people.

But it does mean I am less than sympathetic to some people when they complain.

There’s no reason to drop out of school. Plenty of high schools will work closely to make sure you can stay even under very difficult circumstances.

There’s also no reason to rush to have children, especially if you’re having them while co-habitating with Joe Schmoe who can’t hold a job and has a drug problem.

At the same time I agree that housing costs are a huge contributing factor to poverty.

In her book Nickel & Dimed Barbara Enrenreich vividly demonstrates just how out of control housing costs have become. Her book cites several studies pointing out that housing has risen much further than inflation and much faster than many people’s incomes.

This is also not news to people who’ve bought or sold a house lately particularly if you live in certain metropolitan areas.

The housing problem is huge because of the way neighborhoods in America are structured. You don’t see poor people living side by side with rich people. The mansions are generally concentrated in one area and the tiny apartments in another.

Decent housing is linked many things in American society including decent classrooms, decent police protection and decent public spaces. It can be very hard to attain those if you can’t pay the mortgage.

That’s exactly the way rich people want it. The poor percieved as dirty, disruptive, slothful, and possibly criminal. If poor people managed to move into the neighborhood, droves of the wealthy would move out of it.

No one wants to live next to the poor, not just the rich. People prefer to live in homogenized neighborhoods in which all of the people are of a similar socio-economic status.

That is what you city-folk think. I live in a 4000 sq. ft. house and I’m probably what you’d call wealthy. There is a house across the road that is small, run down and the people are poor. There are several houses like mine up and down the road and there are some even worse than the one across the road. We all greet each other at the country store and wave as we pass on the road.

As to the idea that more minimum wage jobs should be created, that is almost funny. People bitch about those jobs and the reason we don’t stop illegal aliens from crossing the border is that they are the ones that will take those jobs. I was in business and always started employees off above minimum wage. However, I was considered a minimum wage employer and had trouble keeping employees when jobs were plentiful, so don’t tell me we need more jobs like that now.

The truth was that once someone got to a certain point there was no future at my company. I never blamed anyone for getting a better job, but most quit for other reasons. McDonalds in most areas pays more than minimum wage but the fact is that there isn’t much chance of advancement there either. What most people that enter the job market don’t understand is that those types of jobs can give you the experience that leads then to better jobs. They don’t want to start at the bottom, even though they don’t have a high school diploma or work record.

I have a daughter that didn’t think she needed to graduate, since she already knew more than anyone else. She left home just before she was 18 and lived here and lived there (this is something females can do that males can’t). A couple of times she came back home, but didn’t stay since we had rules. We helped her out with two cars that she ran into the ground. She didn’t get pregnant until she was 20 and then said it saved her life (drugs, etc.). I sold my business to a large company that came in a raised wages by $2.00 an hour. I got her a job and for several months she did great and seemed to have turned a page in her life. Then the new employer closed down and she was back unemployed and thought she deserved better than the wages her old man used to pay. It has been a year and a half now and she hasn’t found the job she wants. She stopped coming around here when her mother refused to give her $470. She is probably back on drugs; has let someone else take her child and recently had her drivers license suspended. My dad helped her out with a new car and a place to stay, but now he has decided her sad stories are just that: sad stories.

In the meantime her twin brother took a job as a waiter at one of the large chain restaurants and is now in management, making real good money. He did graduate high school and doesn’t have any children (a male advantage). The difference is purely in attitude. Like Sam says for every person that is truly in need and deserves help there are several that expect to be given everything. Unfortunately that includes my daughter.


I don’t live in the city.

I’m going to make a couple of guesses: first, that you live in a rural area, and second, that your neighborhood is more than 25 years old.

Modern housing developments are what I was talking about. I’m sure you see them all the time: dozens of McMansions crammed tightly together, bordered by carefully manicured lawns, built as far away from the poor side of town as possible. Every house in them usually has about the same sticker price. (The variation is small.) They’re often built outside of the city proper, on what was, until recently, a farmer’s field.

Added to exclusivity of price, many have restrictions on how you can live in the house. They are forbidden certain paint colors, for example. I visited one where the rules stated that you couldn’t have a beat-up car parked in your driveway. These are all designed to keep the neighborhood as homogenous as possible. This is ostensibly so that one homeowner can’t bring down the collective property value with his bad taste or “trashy” ways.

They may be in a farmer’s field, but they are still a part of urban spread. Yes, I am in a rural area that is more than 25 years old. I quess I was just saying that not everyone fits the mold that you had described. I have seen those developments and they remind me of an expanded version of the “ticky tacky little houses all in a row” On close examination the houses are not exactly alike, but to me they are all cut from the same mold and seem to blur together.

Another point is that just because someone lives in one of those houses, it does not follow that they are wealthy. Many are sparsely furnished and the residents are eating beans for supper. All that in an effort to make the high mortgage payments. Low interest rates have helped, but if the real estate bubble should burst, it could get ugly. If that happens I will lose on paper, but that’s all.

McMansions and Milk Carton housing (so named because they look like those little milk cartons you get in high school) are not the problem, they are a symptom. The problem is that when police and education are tied to the local tax base, it creates a vicious circle of poor neighboorhoods->everyone with money leaves->no tax base->worse schools->worse neighborhoods. You get an ever widening wave of new development expanding out from the city center while the center continues to decay. How many cities have you seen where you have to drive through a wasteland of industry parks and low income housing to get from the suburbs to a downtown area that’s vacant after 6pm?
But that’s a systemic problem. Short of waiting for all of society to change, it is up to the individual to make decisions for themselves. And in this regard the article is straight-on.

Ah, dang it.