How to Be Poor

Dr. Zero has a wonderful essay discussing the poverty mentality and how a person can become poor in America. Despite what the left wants you to think, poverty is not caused by exploitation by greedy capitalists or racism — in a very real sense, poverty in a country with as much opportunity as the United States is caused by developing a mindset of poverty that retards actions that take advantage of economic opportunities, discourages economic responsibility and restraint, and promotes helplessness and dependency.

Extreme poverty is not a difficult condition to reach.  All you have to do is remove yourself to a desolate wilderness area, and exert the minimum effort necessary to feed and shelter yourself.  Any increase in activity, or human interaction, will make you less poor.

It’s more difficult to become poor if you start off with the advantages of modern technology, surrounded by the incredible human resources of a capitalist republic.  Here are some techniques that both individuals, and nations, find equally reliable for impoverishing themselves:

Spend more than you earn. Nothing gets you to the poor house faster than spending money with wild abandon, especially when you borrow large sums, and pay exorbitant interest rates …

Be as inflexible as possible. Long-term commitments locking in high levels of spending will greatly reduce your ability to exploit new opportunities, and deal with setbacks.  Someone who dedicates most of their income to monthly cable service, cell phones, club memberships, and car payments is poorly equipped to investigate new business opportunities.  A financial emergency can wipe out their meager savings and push them into ruin …

Lose control of your finances. People who don’t pay attention to their bank accounts and balance sheets are always surprised to discover they’re bankrupt.  If you’re already broke, it really stings when a $20 check for pizza bounces, costing you $50 in fees.  The tumble into poverty often begins when a spendthrift relative or spouse is given access to a formerly solvent bank account …

Try not to cooperate with others. Human interaction produces wealth: the exchange of goods and services, from which both parties gain  … An individual can become poor by minimizing his contact with others.  Removing the benefits of exchange and cooperation goes a long way toward destroying wealth …

Convince yourself improvement is impossible. Poverty requires a certain lack of initiative.  The best way to remain unemployed is to stop looking for a job, because you’re certain none can be found.  Despair flourishes after the careful elimination of hope.  Some poor souls look at the ruins of a dissolute life, decide they don’t know where to start fixing it… and therefore never get started.  If success is the refusal to be beaten, failure is the refusal to pursue success …

Dr. Zero takes his analysis a step father by not only examining how the poverty mentality affects individuals, but also national policy. Read the whole thing here.


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