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Is a person to be blamed for being in poverty?
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ShishKabob




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:27 pm
Is a person to be blamed for being in poverty?
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imasinger




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:30 pm
It depends.

If they have chosen not to work hard, then, yes, they may bear some responsibility. But sometimes, they have done everything they can or should, and then they probably don't.

Why do you ask?
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meme6




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:30 pm
Depends if he’s lazy and doesn’t bother looking for something he can better achieve at then yes.
If he does the most he can and he’s poor then no.
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ShishKabob




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:33 pm
Given the diverse nature that ima is, I was wondering what the popular opinion is out here.
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:46 pm
Are people to be blamed for having cancer or chronic illness? What about special needs children?

Medical care is expensive, and often the caretaker needs to quit her job, or the ill person needs to quit their job.

You have 10 kids, and one day your DH decides to leave you. You've never developed any job skills, because you've never had time - and never thought you'd need them.

The cost of living is going up much faster than current wages.

World currencies fluctuate dramatically at times. What you earn in one country may not always buy you as much in another country.

I can think of a dozen other legitimate reasons why people can be poor.

Hashem must have known that there would be poverty in the world, or else why would tzedakah and chessed be so important?
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L25




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 12:55 pm
franticfrummie- that's why a lot of people are saying it depends. Do you think that a person never have as a part in why they are poor? I think it's like many things- it depends.

If a person smokes and gets lung cancer do they carry any blame since it's a known thing that smoking can cause lung cancer? That doesn't mean that everyone who is sick is to blame, usually they aren't but sometimes they are. With everything, we need to do our hishtadlus but Hashem decides in the end.
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Chayalle




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:00 pm
Brings to mind the words of the Ibn Ezra. He said if he would be in the business of making candles, the sun would stop setting. If he would sell tachrichim, people would stop dying.

Some people don't have good mazal in the field of making money....
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shyshira




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:00 pm
ShishKabob wrote:
Is a person to be blamed for being in poverty?


Are you really asking - if a person (blindly) follows the guidance of a respected member of his community which results in him and his children being ill suited to support themselves - is this person to be blamed?
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ShishKabob




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:07 pm
One of the aspects of my question is, do people really think that they have a power or a choice in regard to making or not making money? hence either resulting in poverty or not.
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carnation




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:10 pm
I think the answer is:

Outsiders should NEVER blame. The poor person himself should know "it depends" and do as much as they can. But again, anyone else other then the poor person himself should NEVER ever blame.
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naarim15




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:15 pm
Here is another angle . What can you attribute your poverty to?
Mental illness ?
Your upbringing?
Bad mazal ?
Not pursuing a degree ?
Etc ... but OP if u want honest answers you need to enable anonymous..
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ShishKabob




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:26 pm
naarim15 wrote:
Here is another angle . What can you attribute your poverty to?
Mental illness ?
Your upbringing?
Bad mazal ?
Not pursuing a degree ?
Etc ... but OP if u want honest answers you need to enable anonymous..

Thanks, I appreciate the advice, I was wondering why no one was coming out of the closet if that can be said about anonymous posters. Smile
Unfortunately I can't do it in this forum.
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Fox




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:40 pm
You must have read my mind, ShishKabob. This is something I've been thinking about and reading about a lot lately.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I would have leaned heavily toward the argument that others are making -- that it depends on whether the person has done his hishtadlus.

As I get older (and older, and older), I think the answer is a lot more complex.

What Do We Mean by Poverty?
What's the famous meme? "If you have a refrigerator with something in it, a closet, and a change of clothes in that closet, you're ahead of 90 percent of the world." I don't know if that's literally true or not, but the point is that very, very few Americans live in "poverty" when measured objectively against the rest of the world.

But, of course, poverty is relative. Jews have been economically very successful in America, so our standards are extraordinarily high. Add onto those standards the costs observant Jews must absorb to live in a frum neighborhood; purchase kosher food; pay tuition; and cover the routine costs of participating in communal life, and it's a difficult challenge.

The median income in Brooklyn is approximately $54K per household. We know about how far that would go in Brooklyn! So before anyone is out of the starting gate, we've already created a situation in which a "typical" individual will be poor in comparison to other Jews in general and probably poor compared to those around him.

The Lake Wobegone Effect

The tag line in Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, the mythical town of Lake Wobegone is where "the children are all above average." Of course, that's statistically impossible -- but it's a psychological state, not a mathematical one.

Both the observant and non-observant Jewish communities in America have a significant case of Lake Wobegone Effect. We are proud of the accomplishments of Jews in this country, and we are unduly distressed when people don't live up to the image we believe Jews should present.

So we look at someone with a household income of $54K in Brooklyn, struggling, and instead of thinking, "Yeah, that's a typical income; it's just not enough to live in Brooklyn," we blame the "typical" Jew. He should have gone to college; he should have gone to professional school; he should have opened a business!

What we're really saying is, "How dare you be so average!? How dare you not hold up your part in the Lake Wobegone Effect!? What will the non-Jews think of us!?"

"Programs" and Charity
The argument, which is usually presented as unassailable, is that we'll allow a certain amount of slacking in the contest to be the highest-achieving minority just as long as no one accepts government transfer payments or charity.

But that doesn't really work for observant Jews because we have to live in a frum community. You don't have to live in Brooklyn, of course, but go "OOT" and you'll discover that aside from a few unusual places, you still won't be able to maintain a frum lifestyle on whatever the median income is for that community.

So we've backed ourselves into a corner. Our religious practices and communities require us to somehow maintain household incomes that are far, far above the median. If we can't do that for whatever reason, our options are to avail ourselves of whatever help is available -- for which we are condemned -- or find ways to game the system -- for which we are also condemned.

Telling the Truth

Unlike other religious or ethnic groups, our communities are extremely economically integrated. In theory, that's a good thing. In practice, it's very hard. It means that if we want to live in neighborhoods with a strong Jewish presence, we need to be honest about the fact that we can't all be above average.

I think we need to start being honest about that and stop pretending that there are no "typical" Jews, economically speaking. We need to stop pretending that having a median household income is evidence of a person's inadequacy.

There are lots of implications for that, but the starting point, IMHO, is that we acknowledge and affirm that observant Jewish communities are based on Torah observance, not on economic homogeneity. If we want people with typical incomes to be part of our communities, there are going to have to be income transfers of various sorts -- not because we feel sorry for "poor" people or because, nebuch, they just can't earn enough -- but because we want to maintain communities based on religious practices, not on real estate prices.

And we can work hard to ditch the Lake Wobegone Effect and stop treating people like losers just because they don't make to the top 15 percent of American household incomes.
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ShishKabob




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:43 pm
Thank you Fox! You are really something! special I mean!
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Redbird




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 1:49 pm
In the black and white words of Ben Shapiro, "You only have to do three things to not end up in poverty: graduate high school, get a full time job, wait to have kids until you're married." Not listening Not listening Not listening
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SixOfWands




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 2:05 pm
Redbird wrote:
In the black and white words of Ben Shapiro, "You only have to do three things to not end up in poverty: graduate high school, get a full time job, wait to have kids until you're married." Not listening Not listening Not listening


LOL LOL LOL LOL
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Fox




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 2:08 pm
I'm going to take my argument a step further, though I want to emphasize that I'm not necessarily advocating what I'm about to suggest. Rather, I'm throwing out the idea as simply an alternative way of conceptualizing things.

Every so often on Imamother, everyone gets all het up about frum people receiving government assistance of various types. Sometimes the presumed answer to the problem is more education; sometimes less full-time learning; sometimes the women should go to work. Whatever bee is in someone's bonnet, the proof is often that we have too many people on welfare of some sort.

Says who?

Orthodox Jewish communities are a valuable resource for a city, state, and nation. We have lower crime rates; we have lower unemployment rates; we have more intact families and less illegitimacy. We even send our kids to private schools primarily at our own expense.

We are certainly more valuable than many of the civic projects undertaken to help make urban areas better!

Perhaps we need to articulate that.

In other words, if the State and/or City of New York want us to stay in NYC or start outlying communities where we'll increase commerce, employ local non-Jews, and raise kids that are less likely to cost the state money to incarcerate -- well, maybe part of the cost is helping us pay for the health insurance of those people. Maybe part of the cost of helping Jews stay in the city is providing rental assistance.

Again, I'm not advocating any specific policies; just an attitudinal change. Orthodox communities have played a huge stabilizing role in urban areas, and unlike other Jews, they have succumbed far less to "white flight." To a certain degree, we have developed political capital and become successful at garnering available government money.

However, we still tend to approach it as if we are the shnorrers. I think it's quite possible to make the argument that whatever is spent by the government to subsidize the ability of Jews to remain in their communities in urban areas is actually a better deal for the city, state, and country than for the Jews themselves.
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DrMom




 
 
 


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 2:29 pm
I don't know if "blamed" is the correct word to use, but in many cases, being in poverty is the result of making poor life choices.

Just to be clear: I am not suggesting that we should not have sympathy for or give help to poor people.
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amother




Silver


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 2:33 pm
FranticFrummie wrote:
Are people to be blamed for having cancer or chronic illness? What about special needs children?

Medical care is expensive, and often the caretaker needs to quit her job, or the ill person needs to quit their job.

You have 10 kids, and one day your DH decides to leave you. You've never developed any job skills, because you've never had time - and never thought you'd need them.

The cost of living is going up much faster than current wages.

World currencies fluctuate dramatically at times. What you earn in one country may not always buy you as much in another country.

I can think of a dozen other legitimate reasons why people can be poor.

Hashem must have known that there would be poverty in the world, or else why would tzedakah and chessed be so important?


I would never blame a person for being in poverty. I doubt anyone really wants to get there.

However, some choices logically will lead you there. I would caution my daughter and any woman out there, that having ten children and no job skills or experience, is putting yourself in an extremely vulnerable situation which can lead to poverty very quickly (the dh doesn't even have to leave - what if he loses his job? What if he becomes depressed and quits?)

There are things beyond our control, but I would advise all adults today to either get a good education or develop very good work skills, and keep them up.
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amother




Silver


Post  Wed, Jan 09 2019, 2:35 pm
DrMom wrote:
I don't know if "blamed" is the correct word to use, but in many cases, being in poverty is the result of making poor life choices.

Just to be clear: I am not suggesting that we should not have sympathy for or give help to poor people.


This exactly.
And while I would not say it is necessarily a poor choice to have ten kids and no job skills, it certainly is taking a huge risk, one I would not want a dd of mine to take.
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