Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Truths About The Poverty in Rich Societies

Fabio Rojas”, an associate professor at Indiana University HERE, contributes to a Blog ( covering commentaries on the wide field of academic sociology and anthropology, with occasional (critical) glances at modern economics, which do not always distinguish between Adam Smith’s actual writings and postwar attributions of the same. 
However, every now and again, his posts may be of interest and relevance to economists, especially to the more street-wise among regular readers of Lost Legacy.  Generally, his posts provide potential gains for everybody from occasional dips into what our colleagues in associated disciplines are up to.
[Follow the link, including the fluent comments on the article, in the  Boston Review HERE

“He covers a lot of ground in a few pages. For example, I [Fabio Rojas] didn't know the following:
“This by itself has an important policy implication. The lion's share of poverty policy should be about helping people protect themselves from temporary income drops or helping people get satisfactory job/income levels after a recession.
Fischer then approaches poverty from a cultural toolkit perspective. If you are middle class, you demand things. If you are poor, you know your place and keep your head down:”
In their [poor people's] worlds, staying humble is usually the best way to keep their jobs or their kids in school. Sharing what money they have rather than saving it, or risking a job to drive a friend, increases the odds that they will be helped when the inevitable crisis hits. And where there are many predators, it makes sense to be distrustful or even predatory in turn.”
In other words, being middle class involves a balance of professional cooperation and conflict. Being poor is about avoiding workplace conflict and inefficient handling of personal relationships.”
Critically, understand that the long-term poor are a small minority of a minority. Most of those counted as poor in a given year are poor temporarily because of setbacks such as layoffs, family break-ups, car breakdowns, or medical emergencies. (Note, too, that we are not talking about the severely physically or mentally disabled; the controversy is about the able-bodied.) Social welfare scholar Mark Rank estimates that about half of all Americans will be poor sometime between the ages of 25 and 75, and perhaps a fifth will go through both poverty and affluence. Only about 2 percent, perhaps even less, will be poor most of their lives from 25 to 60 years of age.”
To repeat: follow the link to the Boston Review and the comments on it.  It’s worth thinking about as a caution to blanket treatment of “poverty” and the usual assumption that general “poverty” ought to respond to a single policy instrument.   Inevitably, there is disappointment (and fierce political criticism) when it poverty despite the amount spent on alleviating it.


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