Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Limited Choices

Poverty begets poverty. People who grow up in poverty often face limited choices in life. They go without adequate health care and develop chronic illnesses. They rarely see a dentist unless it’s an emergency. They eat cheap, unhealthy food, And they are more prone to become addicted to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.

I know about this one all too well. There are also other limiting factors that are not even mentioned in the article: there is a desperation that sets in when you have so few life assets to work with. One of the vices that is not mentioned is gambling. Poor people are also more likely to seek "get rich quick" schemes because they honestly cannot see being able to get out of their surroundings by applying "delayed gratification" techniques. So they will play the lottery, go to casinos, try out Multi-level marketing scams and a whole host of other methods in an attempt to rise above their situation. Some even turn to a life of crime (for instance, selling drugs). They cannot see working for $6.00 per hour at Wal-Mart or McDonalds (the example is not meant to be limited to those companies exclusively, I am just using them as an example) and building wealth over their lifetime when they can't even pay their basic living expenses working full-time.

There is a sense of despair that sets in. People who have no hope for a better life in the future because of their limited opportunities will seek out other methods to rise above (even illegal ones) by default. I grew up in such a community, and, for now, I still live there. It is only recently that I have felt a sense of hope that things will be better. For the first several years after becoming a practicing attorney, I often questioned my decision of going to law school. Although I became very knowledgeable about politics, law and philosophy, and although my education broadened my mind, by itself, it did not help me escape.

As a result of my life experiences, I have come to a conclusion and a philosophy about success: everyone needs a benefactor. It is not enough to apply yourself and the "rules of success." You can be intelligent, study hard, obey the law, work hard and apply all of the other principles that success gurus like Tony Robbins (or other motivational speaker) tell you; it won't be enough. Ultimately, someone has to reach down and give you a helping hand. Someone has to help you help yourself. When you come from the bottom, many people around you will try to pull you back down with them; and only those with greatest of determination or plain luck can get out on their own. It shouldn't be that way. Everyone who has the moral fortitude to reach for success should get a helping hand. Everyone who is willing to apply the rules of success should have access to a benefactor.


Anonymous said...

Right on! Few people take notice of this, and it's so true--we all need mentors. Good post--

charles smith

anon251 said...

I work for a company that has an up or out philosophy, last year my department hired 12 college grads and this year promoted 6 of them, the others were given a little bit of a grace period to find new jobs but after about a month the 4 that did not find new jobs were laid off. I have kept in contact with 3 of these people and two of them are starting to have financial trouble as it is almost impossible to find a job that matches what they were making(mid forties) and they need at least that level of income to support their life style. The sad thing for these people is how quickly they got stuck with fixxed expnses in the form of a mortgage and a car payment, any attempt to cut costs is very painful especially when it involves walking away from a depreciating house and an upside down car. It is a warning for everyone that in a little more than a year people with very bright futures find themselves a very bad situation.