Being poor in America is a personal choice, unless there are mitigating circumstances.
A homeless man can go to school, get a job driving a truck making $70k per year and in 20 years become a millionaire.
In America you can work hard and change your future – if you chose. https://t.co/lFGqZA53ao
— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 17, 2018
And look. Let’s just stipulate that yes, there are choices you can make that will lead to you being poor. But the gulf between rich and poor isn’t who made bad choices and who didn’t, it’s who GOT to make bad choices and who didn’t.
Like you, Stephen Meeks, the human embodiment of a Polo shirt. You got to crash Daddy’s Lamborghini, or impregnate the maid, or puke into the potted palms at the country club, and none of it destroyed your life. You could pay for car repairs, abortions, and lawyers. You didn’t have to worry about taking out a loan because you had to have a bottle of Drakkar Noir laparoscopically removed from your colon and the hospital bill was in the zillions.
You could make stupid mistakes, and you had the ability to recover from them.
Whereas if your car was totaled on the freeway by no fault of your own, and you couldn’t get to work because you couldn’t pay to fix it, and you got fired, you’d be out on the street in six months.
If the woman you knocked up refused to get an abortion, and you married her and had the baby, and you burned through your savings paying for the birth, you’d have to max out your credit cards to pay for diapers. Good luck buying a home for you and that baby with the credit you’d have after that.
If you got drunk, and behaved badly, or got arrested, which is something rich people do ALL THE GODDAMN TIME, and you couldn’t afford a decent lawyer, you’d sit behind bars until you could make bail, and then if you got lucky you’d wind up on probation, your name on the internet forever as the dumbass who barfed in the bromeliads, and you wouldn’t get hired at McDonald’s.
Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody makes terrible choices. Not only that: Everybody gets smacked in the face by life every once in a while. Forget the examples above: What if you just, you know, got a rare form of cancer and then had to switch insurance companies? What if someone stole from you? What if your house burned down? What if you weren’t the family breadwinner, and that breadwinner died and left you nothing?
A part of me envies these people that don’t have to think about all the times they could be bankrupted or otherwise poleaxed by the universe. It is ALL I think about (and I have no real problems financial or otherwise); my contingency plans have contingency plans. I have seen firsthand people’s lives go from charmed to chainsawed and all it takes is hitting one giant pothole, self-inflicted or otherwise.
You shouldn’t get to live a decent upright life only if you never make a mistake or never have a misfortune. “I did everything right” is a delusion, and it shouldn’t be a goal. You should be able to make ordinary fuckups, take a few wrong turns here and there, and still be able to claw your way back without destroying everything. Inherent in building a society is building one that understands the people living in it aren’t perfect, and builds in options to help them recover, rebuild, and go on.