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View Full Version : Quote of the Day (well, actually, yesterday)



Norman Bernstein
05-25-2017, 08:49 AM
Classic


"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind"

--- Ben Carson

Gerarddm
05-25-2017, 08:52 AM
Effing moron.

On the other hand, just driving by a Wal Mart, much less shopping in one, makes me feel poor, so perhaps he is on to something.

TomF
05-25-2017, 09:07 AM
There's long been a genuine policy-wonk debate about poverty and how to set "poverty lines", about the degree to which poverty is about the lack of necessities of life, or about social exclusion.

For decades, Canada used a measure called the "Low Income Cut-Offs" as our de facto "poverty line," and it was based on the social exclusion version. The argument went that poverty is partly about the ability to participate meaningfully within your community, which in turn is a proven key contributor to mental and physical health, to children's life chances, etc. So a paycheque which would be considered "low income" in a neighbourhood teeming with Google executives might be massively high income in a slum.

If that is what Carson meant (and I don't think it was, actually), then there's a case to be made. Poverty, in that understanding, is the inability to participate within your community because of lower financial resources.

The other side of the debate - the one which up here was led by the right wing, personified by the Fraser Institute guys - is that poverty should be understood as the ability to buy a minimum "market basket" of goods/services. It doesn't matter if your neighbours dine on foie gras and drink vintage Bordeaux - can you afford peanut butter sandwiches? If not, you're poor. If so, you're not. This isn't a "state of mind" argument, it's a simple matter of arithmetic.

Carson seems to be arguing neither of these things. He's instead arguing a version of a "culture of poverty" view, maintaining that whatever financial measures you choose are immaterial. That "poverty" is a secondary effect, and the primary thing has to do with whether a person has the gumption to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or instead they give in to their circumstances. He's making the case again for Horatio Alger. That if someone is poor, it's ultimately because they've made a choice to cooperate with their poverty.

David G
05-25-2017, 09:21 AM
Yes... I agree that there might have been a small kernal of truth buried in that steaming pile of obscurity. It might take some time to tease out what he was getting at. And, often, once you get there you discover that the small truth was beside the point, or overwhelmed by more cogent points in opposition. He really is an incompetent when it comes to public policy.

oznabrag
05-25-2017, 09:25 AM
Dr. Carson may do well to remember that idiocy is a state of mind, by that standard.

Norman Bernstein
05-25-2017, 09:30 AM
Carson seems to be arguing neither of these things. He's instead arguing a version of a "culture of poverty" view...

I think he's absolutely correct about a 'culture of poverty'.... where he gets it wrong is in failing to endorse any practical means to combat that culture. There's a GREAT deal that could be done to break the poverty cycle, but it seems that conservatives would much rather spend their efforts condemning, rather than producing solutions.

The remainder of his quote is informative:


"You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you could give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom."

In short, he attributes poverty to a character flaw, rather than an educational deficit.

CWSmith
05-25-2017, 09:45 AM
Let's suppose for a minute that Carson is right in the literal sense.

So what? Do you still let someone go without the basics of medicine, food and shelter? That is what it means to cut programs like Medicaide, Food Stamps, etc. The underlying assumption behind those cuts is the belief that the people who get them would not need them if they were willing to work. It simply is not true. Even if it were, human decency demands that we help them.

oznabrag
05-25-2017, 09:50 AM
Let's suppose for a minute that Carson is right in the literal sense.

So what? Do you still let someone go without the basics of medicine, food and shelter? That is what it means to cut programs like Medicaide, Food Stamps, etc. The underlying assumption behind those cuts is the belief that the people who get them would not need them if they were willing to work. It simply is not true. Even if it were, human decency demands that we help them.

If Carson is correct, then the corollary is also correct.

There are people who will usurp a free society in the service of greed.

It's a mind set.

If Carson would like to test his theories, the simple method is a confiscatory inheritance tax.


The heirs get to keep a few baubles and bobs, then they're expected to compete for their crust just like everybody else.

Sailor
05-25-2017, 10:22 AM
Never mind that things that are incredibly volatile like fuel prices are excluded from the basket of goods to help make it easier to do the calculations. That basket of goods is so far from representative that it's laughable.