Thursday, February 08, 2007

Poor people and poor attitudes

Our community was selected to participate in the "Horizons" program, sponsored by Iowa State Extension and the Northwest Foundation. This program, made up of at least 30 community members, works together in an organized fashion through structured meetings to help determine what poverty is in our community, what causes it, and hopefully, figure out how to fix it. The program has been used in the past with Indian reservations (I'm not sure of the outcome there, however).

So, our group met a week ago to help understand what poverty in our area looks like and what we can do to fix it. My wife's group met on Sunday afternoon to determine the same.

Here, as in other places, there are people who are poor but have a positive attitude and therefore do not "act" poor, and there are others that seem to wallow in their misery and work the system every which way. Our group came to the conclusion that the first group, usually those of working families making slightly above minimum wage, could benefit from action taken and should be focused on, while the deadbeats should be left alone.

So, what needs to be done? Well, this will probably get fleshed out as we get further into the program, but here's my preliminary idea: We need homegrown business startups, entreprenuership, and reduction of barriers to start businesses. No, not everyone is cut out to be a manager, but a few might be, and those could in turn employ others.

We also need to reinvigorate the ag economy. I'm going to harp on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) again, as Uncle Sam rents over 1/3 of the cropable acres in the county through this program. Releasing CRP acres back into pasture, hay, and conservation-planned row crops would help spur rural economic development. Developing ways to bring this land back into production is important. Environmental groups need not hold sway over our community - if they want to keep land out of production, they can go and buy it themselves and do what they want. These are the folks who think $0.50 for a high power rifle bullet is too cruel for deer population control, but that it's fine to spend $1000 per deer to keep them from re-breeding. Brilliant.

But back to the poor attitude group for a second - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. There's not much you can do for people who choose to live on welfare and p_ss their lives away, except isolate them enough so they don't harm anyone else. Trying to reform 40-50 year olds to spend less, save more, and keep their property in shape is like throwing money down a rat hole.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the Horizons program works out. There are three sections of community members. The one I belong to has a slight majority of "natives", those who grew up and continue to live here. The other two groups, however, are majority "non-natives", those who grew up elsewhere and moved in. It's interesting to see that a lot of non-natives are interested in the growth of our community, even more so that some natives. Maybe it tells us why we're in the state of existence we're in today...?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of observations on the poor from one who has been poor.

There is nothing noble about being poor. Nor should the poor be pitied.

Just because you are poor doesn't mean you have to be dirty. There is no reason for you to smell or be dirty. There is absolutely no reason for your kids to be running around dirty. The same goes for your clothes. They might be worn but they can be clean.

There is no excuse for having a trashy yard. There is no excuse for not having weeds and grass cut especially if you have kids.

If you are poor and have space for a garden and aren't growing your own food you don't rate any assistance whatsoever. This goes double for people with kids. Those kids can be tending a garden and be putting a great deal of food on the table. On a related note you shouldn't be buying pre-packaged processed food in the store. Start cooking from scratch. If you're poor you don't need to be buying luxury convenience food and snacks.

Get off your ass. If you're able bodied you need to be industrious. Find work. Make your own work. Only minimum wage jobs? Work two. I've worked two minimum wage jobs in a day. Yeah double shifts suck but it can be done for a while until something better comes along.

I'll add that government interventions and “programs” won't help people get out of poverty. They have to do it themselves. The only thing government does it keep them there by providing the cash to sustain them in their perpetual lifestyle choice of irresponsibility. Not to mention the fact that government has created a federal and especially a state and local bureaucracy with a vested interested in keeping people dependent and doling out and much tax money as possible.

11:45 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger bgunzy said...


7:01 AM, February 09, 2007  

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