Poverty: Facts vs Misconceptions

Watch this great video from Poverty USA:


We have many ideas about and solutions to poverty, but more often than not, those numbers don’t add up to reality. Like this video says, what is needed is not a hand out, but a hand up. And as I wrote in Real Poverty,

“If there is one thing that I have learned over the last three years of living in Allendale, it’s that the real face of poverty is not what I always thought it was.”

Misconceptions About Poverty

If you were to ask me 10 or 20 years ago (or even 5 years) about poverty, I would have been able to give you some very strong opinions. I probably would have called them “facts,” like:

  1. Poverty is mostly about a lack of money.
  2. People who are poor just need to work harder to earn more money.
  3. People are poor because they have made bad decisions. The solution is to show them better choices.
  4. Standardized tests are uniform and equally fair among all socioeconomic groups.
  5. Opportunities are uniform across social classes.
  6. Giving poor people money won’t help.
  7. Government and church programs are perfectly helpful, or horribly unhelpful.
  8. Those in poverty only want welfare and handouts.
  9. Early childhood programs are a nice, but not necessary, option for parents.
  10. Some kids are beyond help, and need to be written off.

Each of these topics could be a blog post in itself. I have touched on all of them at some point, but much more can be said.

And that’s what I want to do — to write more on these topics. I’d love to hear from you about where I should start. Can you leave a comment saying what questions you have on any of these “misconceptions”?

Or, simply take the poll below.

Thanks for your input!

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6 responses to “Poverty: Facts vs Misconceptions”

  1. Karen says :

    Great video. I worked with a single mom with three children (and I know that unwed mothers is a whole other conversatuon) but she really wanted a better life for her children. She would get a job, low paying, work for a while, lose childcare benefits, then have to quit her job because it didn’t pay enough for quality childcare. She tried having a cheaper sitter, a neighbor, watch her kids and came home to find the neighbor drunk and her three year old playing in the road. Once she was fired for calling in due to lack of childcare she got her free childcare reinstated – and this was not a mistake, I called social services for her and was told the pittance she earned as a part time waitress made her ineligible for assistance, but she was eligible once she was fired. Policy is a huge issue.

  2. evanlaar1922 says :

    I am confused – why talk about the misconceptions – why not talk about what poverty really is?

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