Are you a poor American?

 

The following is a copy of a blog entry I (Omegaman) made at Worthy Ministries in 2007, and some of the responses it provoked. Since this was published so long ago, many of the links will no longer function.

Poverty in America

I realize that many reading this are not in America, nor are they perhaps very familiar with United States society. For those of you that are in this non - U.S. perspective, you may have to adjust the details of this blog, to make it relevant to your local economy, or, just take it in and use it as an insight to the way things are in the United States. However, the target audience of this blog, is those who do live in the U.S., and even there, you may need to adjust for local economies. There will be some facts and figures here, as well as some anecdotal stories, hopefully through this all, you may find a point of two, that will make you think.

Now, since this is featured on a Christian chat site, it would not be appropriate for me to exclude the spiritual perspectives of the topic, I will probably save much of that for nearer the end. For now, I want us to understand the nature of poverty in the U.S., so I will begin with the stories and statistics.

In the 2005 U.S. Census, it was discovered that there are 37 million poor people in the U.S. That works out to about to about one in eight of us. Politicians sometimes use that statistic to make apeals on why there needs to be change (usually a vote for them is supposed to be the solution). It does seem incredible, that in a country of of abundance, that there should be so much poverty. I have a neighbor, who never has enough money. Their family has no savings, not much food in the kitchen, and every time there is a normal houshold maintenance issue, it becomes an emergency. In the last week, their water heater went out, it sprung a leak. They had to borrow money to get a replacement, which hopefully, they will be able to repay in a month or so. Of course, buying a water heater is only part of the problem, there also needs to be the transportaion of the water heater to their home. Then, there will be the installation. In the installation, there will be a few parts necessary. This neighbor is not handy with tools or other mechanical things, they are dependant on others for such things. Either they have to pay for installation, or they need to get someone else to do it. Well, they borrowed the money from a friend, and got a neighbor to buy the other small parts and do the install for them. When it rains, it poors. They have a leak in the plumbing at another part of their home, one, if left unchecked, will cause damage to the home, and create a large water bill. It all may make no difference, as the water company is about to turn out of their water for non payment of their bill. This is all in one week, and it is representative of this neighbor’s life as a whole, one financial emergency after another. My neighbor talks my ear off about their poverty.

I chose my neighbor as an example, because the neighbor is similar to many who tell me their woes on Worthychat. Let me be clear here - you are welcome to tell me about your problems, and I am willing to offer advice and prayer, I am not complaining. Bear with me here - I hope to make a few points which are helpful in life to get. Patience!

Okay, I just gave a story about a neighbor, who clearly would have fewer problems if only the family had more money. Let’s look and some more information about those 37 million poor people in the United States of America. The following information is provided by the Heritage Foundation, and comes from statistics from various government agencies.

Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.

Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

So, the next time you hear a politician talking about the poor in the United States - ask yourself - do people with 3 bedroom homes, color TVs, cars, etc., really need that much help from from the government, it the form of taking more taxes from Americans not categorized as poor? That the governent takes from hardworking people to help people who are really well off, is an insult to people who are genuinely poor.

There are people in the world, especially outside the United States, who know actual poverty. People who have no roof over their head, people wo have no healthcare available, people who get so little nutrition, that you can count their bones.

Why does out government do this? The answer is quite simple. If you are a poor person in a third world country, there is not much that you can do for an American politician. If you are a “poor” person in America, one with only one color TV, the politician may be able to get your vote, if he promises you a second color TV - of course, they won’t put it that way. The same thing is true about the health care debate. The politicians are going to tell you that healthcare is broken in the United States. What they mean by that, is that heathcare insurance is expensive. They won’t bother to tell you though, that they are the same type of people, who caused the heathcare problems in the first place. Americans have choices on health care. One is to make enough money to pay for you own. Another is to make enough money to buy healthcare insurance, or work for a company that provided health care insurance. A third is to take advantage of health care provided in government programs, teaching organizations, charitible free clinics and other free or inexpensive heathcare alternatives. A forth is to depend on the charity of friends, family, churchmembers etc. A fifth is to travel to another country and get healthcare there. A sixth is to stop buying housing beyond your needs, cars, and entertainment an other non-necessities, and set money aside for heath relate ermergencies. Finally, you can choose to do without heathcare.

Now, I did not come here to discuss politics or discuss practical solutions to common problems. Suffice it to say that their are already programs in place, from both the government and charitible sources, that address real problems of poverty here, for the most part. Let’s begin to look at poverty, from the viewpoint of One more qualified to speak on the topic.

Luke 12:27-34

27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

NIV

Now, I imagine that these words are not foriegn to you. Maybe it has been a while since you read them, even longer since you actually pondered them. Join me in thinking about life in the time of Christ:

Roads were made of dirt or stones. There were no cars, no bicycles. Rich people rode on carts or carriages. The upper middle class, road on the back of an animal, the poor, walked. There was no refrigeration, no canning. Some things where dried out or preserved with salt etc. Think about how much your diet would be different back then. There were no book stores, let alone DVDs or color TV’s. No air conditioning. Your floor would likely have been dirt, stones, straw mats etc. Rodents and bugs in your home would have been the norm. No washing machines, no dishwashers, no microwave or gas ovens. Want to cook? Gather wood and start a fire. No toilets, no running water. As you go through your day tomorrow, everytime you touch something, ask yourself if it was available 2000 years ago. Now, realise also, that the conditions we are describing, are not the conditions of the poor, but the condtions of average people. Now, my neighbor, can in no way, be considered poor in that perspective. By the standards of Jesus time, my neighbor lives a standard of living which was not lived by even a king. Keep that in mind if you consider yourself poor. If you are reading this, you have access to a computer, perhaps you even own the computer. Perhaps you have internet service, and perhaps you have electricity. I am guessing that this is the case. The problems that my neighbor has, are self induced. The neighbor can learn the skills necessary to fix their own problems. The neighbor can sell their home, and move into a smaller one, in a less expensive neighborhood. The problem with my neighbor is, that the neighbor is living above their means. The solution, is to do a reality check, and live in a way they can actually afford, or earn more money. In most cases, this is possible in America.

Now, I haven’t dealved into spiritual aspects much here - don’t be concerned, consider this part one, my next blog will be related, and I will tie it altogether at that time. For now, spend some time noticing the things that bless your lives. Perhaps tomorrow, everytime you touch something, ask yourself if they it was available to the average person in Jesus time, or if it is available to people who are truly impoverised. As you do, remember to thank God for your American style poverty, and pray for those who are truly poor, perhaps, even thinking ov some way you might help them.

One secret to contentment, is just to realise that you are better off that you make yourself think, and stop focusing on what you don’t have. Seek first, the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

Omegaman

16 Responses to “Are you a poor American?”

  1. nobdy Says: 

    Beautifully done Omegaman.

    I like the way you showed the anatomy of the poor in this country and how it relates to it’s political useage.
    Myself, I entertained the thougt once that I had a poor upbringing, but discovered plenty of folks who were far worse off than I was.
    In the past there have been times when I had difficulty meeting my obligations, but never considered myself poor, just not very good at managing things.
    I hope the other folks that read your blog will be honest and relate the article to themselves and not someone else.
    I look forward to part 2

  2. Leslie Says: 

    I don’t think your looking at the whole pictute. I’m poor and i own a car witch my grandparents bought for me and i have trouble keeping gas in I owned a home that was a 2 bedroom trailor that my grandparents bought for me and i had to sell b/c i could afford the reapirs that were neccarry to make it livable. I sleep on the livingroom floor with my boyfriend on the floor of my mothers 2 bedroom tralior. We live in with 3 other people so we might be able to pay our bills and we’ve been living like this since august. And how many of those ppl own there own homes b/c it was given to them how many of them own 2 cares b/c they couldn’t afford to fix the old ones how many have air and cable b/c they don’t want ther kids to have to go through that and they want to hide those proiblems how dare you say that just b/c they want provide a little comfort for there kids that they are wrong in thinking that tere poor and yes other countrys are much worse but thats not the country we live in and i know that other ppl have it much worse thats the only thing that keeps me going but i find totally disrespectful to assume that just b/c they own ther own home and cars that they arte some how living off the goverment and as for your hard working tax payers i appoligize that they have to part with some of ther presiouse money so that a mother can feed her baby. How can you write that with out thinking about all cirumstances. And as far as health care goes i’m 20I can’t get govenrment insuarance b/c i’m disabled I can’t afford my companys inssurance and sure can’t afford inssurance by myself. There are no free clinmics in my town i have to pay 15 dollars for a general vistis and 30 for anything special. That doesn’t sound like much but when you only make 180 a week its a lot more than you think no metion if i need medicen I have a conditon that can cause cancer and i c an’t even afford bithcontrol to prevent it. You know you are right that God will provide for you thats the reason i get up every day b/c he will pull me out of my circumstance in his time but not to sound bad but stores and health care providers don’t take faith as a form of currency if thy did i’ld be richer then bill gates. I just thought i’ld give a poor persons perpective. Since you failed to ask why we have those things could you let your children go with out air when the average summer temp is 101 degrees or with out heat when the average temp is 15 degrees. I know i couldn’t and how do you explain to a crying child why there best friend has things that they don’t so how many of the ppl in your study have more so ther kids don’t have to feel less then everyone else. think befor you typoe next time.

  3. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    Leslie,
    First off, let me thank you for reading my blog, and taking the time to respond with examples from your own life. Although the title of my blog was “Are You a Poor American”, it was not intended for those who are genuinely poor, but for those who complain about their financial position as though somehow the world or life owed them something more than their life at present, holds for them. It also was not intended for those who are poor, and who are unable, for whatever reasons, cannot rise out of that state. What I was adressing, was the attitude, the self view that some have, of themselves as victims of poverty, when in fact, they are quite well off. You notice that I particulalry went after Americans.

    Why would I do that? There are several reasons, one, is that I am familiar with Americans and America. You responded with a lot of details, and you made quite a number of points. I never intended to offend you, or engage anyone in a debate on this. Never-the-less, I will give some responses to some of your points, if for no other reason than to clarify to others, what it is I have said, as distinguised from how you felt about what I have said. I’ll address a few of those in the order you raised them.

    First off, you expessed the opinion that I am not looking at the whole picture. I am looking at the whole picture, but my blog was not about the whole picture, but a segment of our society which lacks perspective and a realistic look at their own condition. How you fit into that category, you can decide for yourself, and if you find that you are not in that group, then you really have to reason to complain about my blog as though it applied to you. If it doesn’t, then move on and tend to your life in a responsible way without reacting to what you perceive to be criticism, about a group of people that you are not in.

    You mentioned that many people only have a car or a home etc, because someone bought it for them etc. Of course that is going to be true. A large number of people owe their material wealth or well being to inheritances and gifts, but that in no way changes the fact. I never mentioned how people aquire their possesions, whether by “luck”, criminal activity, brilliant ideas or talents, or just plain hard work, they have what they have. People are poor or they are not, just as people are employed or they ar not, sometimes those things are related, others times not.

    I remember a number of years back, when Johnny Carson underwent a divoce, and there was a settlement with his wife on what level of support she would recieve. She had lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous, based on the success of her husband. I recall that in about a year after the divorce, she was petitioning the court for an increase in the level of support she was receiving, because she couldn’t possibly get by on $400,000 a month. As you might imagine, many people were not very sympathetic to her ‘plight’. It is just a matter of perspective. In her mind, living in a mansion with servants, having several other homes to retreat to, to escape the stress of worrying where her next filet mignon and lobster dinner would come from if her cook were to catch a  cold, is just the standard of living she should expect. Apparently, having a new car every year and the most expensive clothes and furnishings, were the basic necessities.
    That was her perspective, and it is perspective that I was addressing. Things like having cable TV, or any TV for that matter, or a car, or full access to modern health care, or any of a number of other things I alluded to can be used to measure a persons finacial condition, but certainly they are one small measure. If that is used as a measure of poverty, and we concede that people who lack these things are somehow poor, then everyone was poor who lived over 100 years ago. Of course, this is not remotely true. So what else can this mean? It seems to me that anyone who has certain material possessions and priveleges and says they are poor, has to be spending money on uncecessary things. There is nothing wrong with wanting comfort, or wanting it for one’s children. However, every month the loss of $30 or more to unnesessary entertainment, could be viewed as irresponisible extravagance when one is having difficulty staying healthy, warm and fed. That is and remains my opinion.

    The most interesting remark, to my mind, that you made was:

    ” i find totally disrespectful to assume that just b/c they own ther own home and cars that they arte some how living off the goverment and as for your hard working tax payers i appoligize that they have to part with some of ther presiouse money so that a mother can feed her baby.”

    I don’t think that is really what I said. The fact that some people accept money from the government to gain help in feeding their children is not something that they need to feel shame about, nor do I disrespect such people. I do, however, disrespect the actions of people who accept money on the premise that they need the help, IF they can afford to pay for food by giving up their cigarettes, liqour, cable TV etc. don’t they have a responsibility to do that? I will not judge a person who will steal if necessary to feed their children, but before going to that extreme, they should try working or at the very least asking for help from those willing to give it. Poverty is a sad thing, but there is no right to not be poor. Accepting money from the government is not stealing, and I do not put it in that category. To to the extent that that money is confiscated from the individuals to whom it belonged (the taxpayers), it seems to me that it is tantamount to accepting stolen money.

    You asked: “How could I write that without thinking about all circumstances?” My answer to that is simply that it is not true. I know there are circumstances beyond the control of individuals, which places them in their respective economic situations. This blog was not intended to be critical of the truly poor. I am critical, of those who are poor who are able to rectify that problem, but choose by their actions, to remain poor and to burden others with a poverty that in many cases, doesn’t need to be. Mostly though, I was critical, of the “poor me, I can’t afford a new cell phone” attitude, which could instead be “Thank you God, for feeding my family for another day”, can you see the differance? Their financial condition is identical, but one gives glory to God.

    I admit, that I am comfortable. I have no job, I have a family of seven, so of course the government considers me poor. I am eligible for food stamps and all of that, but I take none of that. The last three stints of unemployment, I took a total I think, of $860, over an accumulated period of almost 3 years. Now, that is not money confiscated from taxpayers, that is a paid insurance program. I was eligible for money of course, but I took almost none, because there where ways to get by, which I felt left more money available for the truly needy, so I depleted those instead. There was nothing noble about it, just a personal choice. I would not want to, except under dire circumstances, accept “welfare” type payments, not because it is the taxpayer’s “precious money” as you put it, but because it is THEIR money.
    Of course you will do what you need to do to keep you kids healthy - that is responsible, it is your job. You have to heat your house when it is 15 degrees outside. I’m not as convinced that you need to cool yourself when it is hot outside, I have gone out to the deserts in my own state for recreation, when it is 115 degrees outside. So I know, for most people, not all, it is not life threatening to be in you home when it is hot outside, a/c or not. I also know that many people do it for comfort, not necessity, and I am o.k. with that. I think that there is the consideration, of whether we need to keep our house down to 80 degrees when 90 would keep us safe and leave money for things which are necessities. These are all personal choices and perspectives, and I cannot decide those priorities for others, but I can suggest that they consider their circumstances, and see what they might adjust, both in thier circumstances and their attitudes. I am not judgeing you, or anyone else, just making observations which people can examine to see if they apply personally. Things like this are an opportunity for growth and change for some people, for others perhaps not. This was not written for them.

    I started this reply, with “Why about America”, and said one reason was that it is what I am familiar with. America is often called the land of opportunity. Indeed it must be, or millions of people would not be risking their lives, and leaving their homes to get here. Chances are, if you are an able bodied American, willing to work, stay in school, don’t have babies until you can afford to take care of them, that you will be alright. The opportunities are not equal for all, and some may have to try harder to succed than others, but the facts that I outlined, about what the poor own in this country, ought to be proof of what people can accomplish here. Not everyone is able bodied, but most people can make choices to improve their lives. I did not understand exactly the nature of your medical condition is and I am not asking for details. I do not want the details, they are your business. But let’s take a couple of comments you made and apply them to a hypothetical person who might make such comments in a context that we do have the details of, as such people do exist -

    I sleep on the livingroom floor with my boyfriend on the floor
    i’m 20
    i c an’t even afford bithcontrol

    There are a large number of young people out there, who have financial problems because they have a boyfriend or girlfriend in the first place. They might also say they cannot afford birth control. Of course, for them, the simple and right answer is to avoid romantic entanglements until they have the resources to raise children, and if they focus on doing that, it is likely to happen. If one burdens one’s self with the expense of family before one is financially established, which is typical when one is young, then one is going to find it difficult to get ahead. There should be nothing hard to understand about that.
    To the young I would suggest, live at home, and focus on school, get a part time job. Go on to junior college or trade school. If you cannot afford that, then keep working until you can, do something to gain valuable skills and or knowledge. Keep this up until you have gone up the economic ladder before you get involved with the opposite sex. Have no sex out of wedlock. Those simple steps, will go a long way to making sure that one is not only not in poverty all of his/her life, but can instead, help others who are in need. That is how it is supposed to work, and for most of the people in this country, I am sure it does work. For those who have already made these mistakes or unwise choices, hope is not lost. Those people, will have to work harder. It will mean night school or perhaps more than one job, but determination will often overcome prior poor choices.
    Finally, with regard to explaining to my crying child about why they have to go without; I would rather tell them that we are poor, than to buy them things we could ill afford. Kids and adults both, are unhappy when their expectations are not met. Learn to have realistic expectations, and teach your children the same, and you will learn to be content, and not destin your children to being unhappy about their circumstances. This is where it is vital not only to have faith, but to have understanding about this life being temporary and not all that important. That is a concept more difficult for children perhaps, but they can get it, if you teach them.
    I have been to places where people were happy all around me, much happier than my neighbors are. These people not only did not have TV, they did not have electricity. The rubber ball I gave the children, was the only one in the village. It was the village ball and the kids took turns on who got to keep the ball over night. You cannot convince me, that happiness is wrapped up in “things”. Kids feel less because they don’t have things? Is self esteem wrapped up in things? I don’t think it is. I think that a child who is told they are loved, a child who is appreciated for helping around the house, a child who is valued and knows it will have self esteem unless they are taugh by someones words or actions, that their worth lies in their possessions. Otherwise, where will they ever find self esteem? Later in life, will they still feel they have the short end of the stick if they drive a Honda, when their freinds have a Lexus? Sadly, many do. Comparing ourselves to others on the basis of things, is a terrible measure, one that you cannot win. If a person is able to say, I may drive a used Honda, but I earned it honestly, then they have figured it out, or were fortunate to have parents who raised them with good values so that they may have self esteem.

    I realize that this response probably seems more critical, than my original blog. It should. The blog was general, and not directed to you or your circumstances, but to anyone who feels badly because they have a roof over their head and food in their belly while others do not. Your response, while appreciated, has not persuaded me that I was in error in anything that I wrote, so I will not recant on it’s content. I am sorry, that you took it personally and chose, apparently to be a victim instead of seeing what is in it, that you might benefit from. If you find nothing, that is fine, you could move on and say “Well, that was worthless”, and I won’t be offended.
    The chat admin blog is there for the purpose of chatters to get to know the administrators. You now know something about me, that you may not like about me. I am blunt. I have opinions. I express them. Thank you for expessing yours Leslie

    Omegaman

  4. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    Thank you Nobdy,

    I appreciate your encouragement and the fact that you “got it”!

    Omegaman

  5. Leslie Says: 

    Though I feel i was quick tempered in my response. When better explained I got your point and it is valid and i actually agree with it. When i first read it I felt like it was full of assumptions and not very well thought upon your response it was quiet the oppiste I’m sorry for my negative responses. I truely have no way out of my circumstances. I was hurt by some of your comments wich is why I reacted to your blog the way I did

    Really sorry

    Leslie

  6. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    Leslie,

    Thank you for responding yet again, and for taking the time to understand my point, I am wordy person, so I know it takes a bit of work to do that with me, the points get lost in the details.
    I am sorry that some my comments caused you pain, and I really appreciate you took the time to let me know that you understand my points better and that you are sorry that you reacted negatively. Apology accepted, hope (and expect) that you accept mine.
    Your response, however, was a good thing in the end, because it allowed me to clarify that I am not picking on the poor, you may not have been the only one offended. Communication can be tricky sometimes.
    I know that there will be many people reading this exchange, and I ask those of you who are, to take a few monents to pray about Leslie, her situation, and those living in similar conditions or worse, and consider, how you might helps such people in small ways or large, as you are able, who you may come into contact with - perhaps there is an outreach program at your church.

    Thank you, Omegaman 2.0

  7. BLampinen Says: 

    I would like to offer a slightly different viewpoint of the same problem. I agree completely with what Omega has said. I also thank Nobdy for his/her reply. It gives me hope to see that there are others out there who can recognize the danger of this trend.

    I am what many might refer to as a “child of privilege.” My father is a wealthy man who has made a name for himself in the field of construction. He grew up in living conditions that I once thought appalling. Until I had seen that those “appalling” conditions were, as omega pointed out, very luxurious on a global scale. Still, the difference between where my Dad grew up and where he is now is night-and-day.

    In my current position at work, I will be compensated a little over $100,000 after taxes. I find no reason to hide that fact. Admittedly, I do very little actual work in my job. I am only twenty-three years old and making more than 3.5 times as much as the average income in the US. However, just because I find no reason to hide that fact, doesn’t mean that I gloat in it either. In all honesty, I find it somewhat frustrating that I am not making more.

    Now, let me stop a moment to explain. You might be thinking that I should be slapped for wanting more money. You might be thinking that I am gloating, despite my claim. You might also think that I am spoiled. I beg to differ. See, the job that I have requires some special skills, but not many. In fact, you could have a very similar job with absolutely no special skills or experience and make around $90,000 in a year. Sound too good to be true? Sorry, but it is not. What’s the catch? Well, the catch is that you have to be willing to sacrifice something for it.

    I find it deeply offending to see Americans in circumstances as described by Omega complain about their quality of life. I, like he, have seen true poverty. I, like he, have also seen how utterly happy those people can be. Countries such as those in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe (in other words, most of the world) regularly force their citizens into poverty through brutality. Yet, I’ve heard Haitians, Mexicans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Nepalese, Ugandans, and many other express the intensity of their joy for life. I would like to see a single American live in those conditions and, even for only five minutes, be truly content.

    This is not a challenge by any means. I am not asking for someone to jump in my face with a “Look at me! I could do it!” attitude. I would certainly hope that there are a few out there. But, even then, I sincerely doubt that your contentedness would compare with theirs.

    Having said that, I move back toward my original aim. Money does not buy happiness. We all know this. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a shock to very many. I do believe that many people hear these words and accept them, but dismiss them at the same time. These people then fight for years, working one-hundred-plus-hour weeks, killing themselves for stress, and destroying their families; only to find that those words were right all along. I know this because I’ve seen it happen many times. I grew up with millionaire friends who’s lives were in ruins. On the other side, though, I grew up with millionaire friends who couldn’t have been happier.

    Money does not buy happiness, no, but it doesn’t destroy happiness either. I often hear people misquote the Proverb “The love of money is the root of all evil” to say that “Money is the root of all evil.” I usually find that amusing. Those people usually aren’t mis-quoting that based on ignorance of the quotation, but in spite of it. After all, money used to feed orphaned children is hardly evil, right? Well, is money used for the purpose of making more money (capitalism) evil? Hardly. Working for a profit is not at all evil in itself.

    Think back to a very famous British captain. He was left in charge of a tiny British colony charged with creating a starting point toward developing a New World. This captain was separated from his village for a while, and upon his return, he found the village in turmoil. Winter was approaching, and they had exhausted their supplies. The whole of them were arguing like school children on a playground trying to find fault for the burst balloon. The captain resumed command of his village and issued a new decree. That decree stands just as valid today as it did then. The captain’s name was John Smith. The decree was “He who does not work shall not eat.”

    This simple statement summed-up what was to become the wealthiest and mightiest nation in the history of the world. However, we have long since forgotten that. We are now back to the state of those school children. We bicker over issues like global warming, immigration, and wars. We try to find out just who it was that burst our balloon. Then we turn and point fingers at other spitefully. We accuse the successful of corruption and greed. We presume that because Bill Gates is so wealthy, he must have cheated somehow. We accuse Sam Walton of destroying businesses. Yet, we all line up in droves to purchase their products. Why? Simple; they work, and they are cheap.

    He who does not work shall not eat. I find it offensive and perplexing not just that Americans have the audacity to complain about their living conditions because they are too poor; but because those same Americans have inherent rights and advantages that no one on earth has. America truly is the Land of Opportunity, as Omega pointed out. Whether you are poor or not is irrelevated by the fact that simply working harder would grant you the higher quality of life you desire.

    Back to what I said earlier about my current job. Yes, you can say that I am over-paid. Yes, I can still be labeled greedy for wanting even more. Yes, you can dismiss me as a spoiled “rich kid.” It really makes no difference to me how you might choose to think of me. I know that I have worked hard to have earned my current status. I have every intent to work even harder to achieve an even higher status. The motive of my work is mine alone. I have no reason to justify myself in that respect. I have only God to thank for my accomplishments and only God to answer to for how I use them.

    I have heard people accusingly point out to very wealthy friends of mine that it is easier for a camel to go through and eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Perhaps that is what you are thinking now of me based on what I have said. Perhaps you have used that justification for your own “poverty.” I disagree. I am not disagreeing with what the Bible states. I am disagreeing with the use that people have designed around that sentence. God has given each person a certain set of principles, strengths and weaknesses. God wants only one thing in return for those. He wants everything we have. 100%. Complete and utter surrender. His first commandment was that we should have no other gods before Him. He points out in the Bible that it is the love of money, not money itself, that is the root of the problem. It is not that the wealth is what makes it difficult for the wealthy to enter His kingdom. It is the love of that wealth. It is pride. That is why I make an exception to point out that I do not gloat of my accomplishments. The reason that I can so freely speak of them is solely found in the ability I have to achieve them. That is to say… in my weakness.

    It is not in my strength that I have found anything from which I can derive joy, but only in His. His strength, in turn, is found in my weakness. Everything I have, from my ability to breathe to my ability to process knowledge, is not found in anything my hands have done. That is found only in what He has done in me and for me. Because of this, I can speak freely and confidently. Because of this I have no cause for fear of judgment. I cannot truly explain or justify why He has chosen to bless me so richly (not just fiscally, but with true riches), but I am able to hold those out as a sign of my humility and gratitude.

    In closing, let me draw these points together. Louie Giglio (from Passion Ministries) has written a book called “I Am Not, But I Know I Am.” This seemingly contradictory title is really a beautiful and elegant statement of faith. Passion Ministries is a very succesful ministry based in Georgia. Louie Giglio could take immense pride in what his group has accomplished. Instead, he states boldly that he is nothing. He is not. But that’s not the end of the story. Because he knows God’s name: I Am. Louie Giglio is not, but Louie Giglio knows I Am. The same applies to me. Brandon is not, but Brandon knows I Am, too. That is where my success can be found. That is where your success can be found too.

    I don’t define success as making a lot of money. It is not found in owning a home or having two-and-one-half cars, either. It is not found in family, country, relationships, work, or your checking account. There is but one true success and that is found only on your knees.

    Having said all this in clarification, I do encourage you to take a look at yourself. There is nothing wrong with financial success, so long as you keep your priorities straight. I am willing to bet that there is something in everyone’s lives that they could do better. Whether that means something at work, at home, or at church. Do not think, though, that just because you take those extra steps that God will reward you. He rewards whom He chooses to reward for what reasons He chooses to give them. He does not answer to you or to me. I am sure, however, that when you examine your life thoroughly, correct your priorities, and make steps to correct your mistakes, you will find that you are much richer than you thought you were.

    Brandon

    p.s. This may have sounded overly harsh and unapologetic at times. I am sorry if anything offended you. However, like Omega pointed out, this is the intent of this blog: to get to know the admins a little better. May God bless each of you as you strive to serve Him in your lives.

    p.p.s. Omega, sorry for stealing your blog lol. I don’t know how to make a new one so I decided to just add to yours since it’s on a similar topic.

  8. Idetrorce Says: 

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  9. gv Says: 

    If you bring a pot to boil and throw a frog into it, he will jump out fast. But if you put him in mild water and slowly bring it to a boil, he wont notice.

  10. writerchick4 Says: 

    I am honestly quite offended by many of the ideas put forth in both the blog and the comments. What gives you the right to judge what people buy with their own money. So what if they live below the poverty line, but still have a color TV? Why does it matter that they have more living space than your average Afghan?

    Great pleasure was taken in describing how lucky these people actually are when compared to citizens of other countries. It seems you’ve forgotten. They don’t live in those other countries. They live here. In America.

    How can these people do anything except bemoan their financial status in a country where you have to pay for any and everything you do? Perhaps their lack wouldn’t be as noticeable if everyone around them were in the same situation. That’s just not the case in a nation where you have more chance being run down by a Maserati than by a goat.

    It drives me nuts when people talk bad about others who only want a better life for themselves. After all, wasn’t that the purpose of Jesus’ work on the cross? He came that we might have an abundant life. An abundant life is not one so filled with lack that we don’t have time to serve Him.

    It also makes me crazy when people whom God has blessed with wealth feel they have to apologize for and justify it. What in the world is that? As long as you are fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, there is nothing shameful about His blessing you money, health, friends, etc. After all, He knows He can trust you to use those resources to His glory.

    I find it really disturbing that one of the solutions put forth to people who find themselves in povery was to further their education at a Junior College or Trade School. While upper education is admirable, why are four-year colleges mentioned? Or perhaps a person living in poverty isn’t smart enough to go to Harvard.

    Now let’s talk about the advice given to Leslie. She clearly stated that she needed birth control to manage a medical issue that can become cancer. Yet she’s advised not to live with her boyfriend so she doesn’t need the birth control in the first place. While it’s admirable that premarital sex is not condoned, but that’s not her main issue here. It’s the medical condition that can flare up regardless of whether or not she has a boyfriend.

    It might be wise to reign in the bragging about how you have seven kids, but are eligible for welfare programs. Doesn’t the Bible say that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children? What kind of inheritance are you leaving behind.

    One last thought. It’s very interesting how devoid of compassion this post is. It’s amazing that people who claim to be grateful to Jesus for His compassion toward us can turn right around and be this harsh with His other children.

    Very interesting indeed.

  11. broken servant Says: 

    Omegaman,

    I do like what you said. You sound like an example of one baring fruit with your actions, and helping your neighbors and brethren when they are in need. That’s awesome. I pray that we as the church in America walk in love, and let out love show fruit.

    I’m not one to ask for help, but it grieves me that when I have explained some of my financial needs that the body of Christ as a whole does nothing. I have walked away cold, hungry, thirsty, and sick. We need to take care of the widows and the orphans in their distress- to be practicing true religion. To be known both to God and man, we need to care for one another, and show love by not just words, but in deed and in truth. When the body of Christ does not love each other and take care of one another, I believe that GOD’s Spirit is grieved, and HE withdraws from a place. Of course HE takes care of HIS people, and have had strangers and people I never met before come up to me and give me the finances I have needed to pay bills, which I never told them of my needs. Whether these people were angels or believers or unbelievers, I don’t know. But I believe that it is a privilege that we as the body have by blessing one another, and by doing it for the least of these. we are doing it for Jesus himself, and we will be rewarded greatly.

    So please let us, as the body of Christ, if we see our brother or sister in the church, or neighbor or stranger in need, help them. By doing this we are showing ourselves examples of Christs disciples.

  12. Kalyn Says: 

    I can’t express how much I disagree with the points that were made in the original blog. While I do understand that Americans need to be MUCH more financially savvy and prudent, I also don’t think it’s our place to devalue someone by saying that they do not live in poverty because they may have a microwave or another material item.

    Frivolous spending is one thing, but sporadically purchasing items that may improve one’s quality of life is something different altogether. Unfortunate circumstances happen to the best people, and using the example that we are living better now than anyone ever did in Jesus’ time is just, well, ignorant. The whole WORLD practically lives better than in the time of Jesus, even people in developing countries, because of technological progression and other modern changes. Assuming that someone is financially irresponsible because of a string of unfortunate events is completely merciless and mean.

    Poverty is an EXTREMELY relative term, and varies greatly depending on your country of origin and cultural surroundings. In this country, it is becoming increasingly harder to function effectively in society without material possessions, such as computers (most lucrative jobs require online apps), microwaves (since so much time is spent working and commuting, scratch cooking is not an option for many families), cable (it’s now required to watch any form of TV really), and electricity (this shouldn’t even need an explanation); according to your reasoning, people who have these items should have the same tax bracket as President Bush, which is clearly WRONG. Moreover, the assumption that having a car equals conspicuous consumption is silly. I, for example, grew up in Michigan, and since the public transportation there is sub-par at best and better employment is found in the suburbs, it was necessary to have a car; though it’s a very expensive commodity, the region’s culture requires it. Many people try to just buy a hoopty, but the long term cost is more money put into upkeep, which means that it’s better to just get a new car. Again, your reasoning would imply that a person who did such is financially irresponsible, which is just not true.

    So in conclusion, please learn to think outside of your personal box when determining what judgment to give to others. While I commend your endurance through what must obviously be hard times, understand that not everyone can/will/should deny welfare or unemployment, nor should they feel compelled to move into a shack to make up for the socioeconomic disparities that this country’s political/social/economic systems perpetuate. Instead of looking for ways to make every poor or economically strapped person live like you, look for ways to pray for and creatively help these people find help that fits their personal life.

  13. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    Obviously, many were offended by my rant. There were people who criticised me for criticizing others (go figure). I was asked what gives me the right to do so. I should ask in return, where has my right to express my opinion been suspended?
    While I see much criticism of my blog, I see no one disputing the facts presented. I am accused of lacking compassion. I would offer that the lack of expression of compassion, is not evidence of a lack of compassion. Compassion is known by actions, words are cheap.
    I purposefully laid out facts, by statistics and examples, and made no effort to confuse my points with emotional verbage.
    My points were few really. The main one being that most of what passes for poverty in this country, is falsely labeled. It was argued in the responses, that poverty is relative. Two thoughts occur to me there. If poverty is relative, then theoretically a person could have 5 Cadillacs, three yachts, a 10,000 sq. ft. lavishly furnished home on an 5 acre estate, if ones neighbors have 10 Rolls Royces, a cruise line, and a castle, and chateau and an 300 acre estate. I don’t know if anyone believes that, I certainly do not. If poverty is relative, so is wealth. Certainly a person argueing relative poverty, should understand the point that most of America’s poor are wealthy by historical and geographical standards. I honestly do not even know how that can be debated with any sense of integrity.
    The point is a simple one. Most of our poor are poor because they have not chosen to be otherwise. Poverty is avoidable for most people. Most people do avoid it in fact, but many of those who have avoided it, do not realize that they have avoided it. I am sorry, that their are people, whose idea of compassion, is to feel sorry for people, and expect someone else to fix the problem. I think there is great wisdom in the idea of teaching people to fish, instead of giving people a fish. America gives it’s poor, a fish, and pays them to stay poor, instead of lifting them out of poverty by showing them a better way, a way of self dependence, instead of dependence on government programs.
    Can we not help the truely needy, who cannot help themselves, and can we not help those who are needlessly helpless, to become not only free of need of handouts, but help them reach a position where they can help others as well?
    I think we can do it. But we will not do so, as long as we have the attitude that makes us see people who are victims of bad choices in a light that makes it seem as though their condition could not have been avoided, and it is no one’s fault, or worse, was the fault of society or some other vague cause. While such things as misfortunate effents can creat huge setback in our lives, in most cases, hard work, determination and common sense, will get us on the road to recovery. When hard times befall us, and people see us struggling to rise above them, they are more likely to pitch in, in my opinion, that if we sit around, waiting for rescue.
    We will never get rid of poverty, Jesus said so. We can however, create an atmosphere, where people feel empowed to help themselves, where they have the tools to do so, and where they can feel good about the fact, that they have been able to change their lives.
    This is the kind of country we used to live in, when we had personal resources to help others, and it was a priority. Somewhere along the line, we had a better idea, that government could fix things, could take care of the poor. We all know that has not worked, and that we have created families stuck in cycles of dependent poverty for generations.
    I do not and cannot blame people for taking a needed handout. I do blame people who fight to have a system in place, that keeps people dependent upon handouts. I can not see, how condeming people to poverty, is compasionate. I do not see how it is kind to make people depressed by their condition, when we tell them they are poor, while they are fed, dry, and warm. Their is a huge difference between necessities and luxuries, in spite of what modern relativistic thinking concludes.
    Should I apologize for what I have written, for offending people? Perhaps I should, but I am not sure why I should if I should. I do not believe that I have said anything untrue here. As I see it, you can be offended, and remain a victim, or, you can be challenged, and become a victor. It is all in your attitude, the choices are yours.
    Thank you all for you impassioned responses.

  14. Sharon Kemp-Smith Says: 

    Folks, you won’t be able to describe poverty fully until you’ve lived it. My family can be classified as poor because we breathe it daily. 5 in our Family living in someone’s house,sleeping on the floor and not because we are lazy. We are Christians, we look very nice when we go into Public, but we can’t afford car gas, utilities, rent and food all at the same time. Our lights were off last week, lasting for 2 weeks and we chose that, so that we could buy food instead. Please all, a little more compassion for those of us who do work hard but can’t make ends meet. ,,,By the way, we do have a TV someone bought for us 5 yrs ago. Thanks for listening.

  15. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    I have never lived true poverty Sharon, but I can describe it. I have seen it up close, no available medical care, dirt floors, tattered and dirty clothes, no running water, and a sewer system that is nothing more that a hand dug creek slowly running past peoples homes. This creek with feces floating in it, is also the drinking water supply. The ‘homes’ are constructed of cardboard, sticks, pieces of metal or what ever else they could find. No window, no doors, no heat, no utilies of any kind. Food scarcely available, and when it is, it is rotting or maggot infested. Do you have to live that lind of poverty to understand it? I do not think so. That is a life without hope.
    That is real poverty, and some people in the world, have it worse. My point was comparing our ideas of poverty in the United States, with the abject poverty that some people in other parts of the world experience. Try making ends meet on a dollar a day, or even think about it, and you will imagine what I am talking about. Compared with that, America’s poor, have it relatively good.
    People in your economic state, do not have an easy life. It is hard, you deserve compassion and help. So while I was comparing American poverty with the poverty in third world countries, your level of poverty is not the type I was addressing. I don’t think you will find that I, or anyone else who commented on this topic, suggested that you were lazy or not really poor. Remember what I said when i started this off . . . home ownership, cars, air conditioners, TVs etc, are things that many of those who are called poor, enjoy. They are better of than the middle class was in my father’s generation.
    Our expectations are high these day. We see wealth around us, and think of it as the norm, something that everyone is supposed to have, and we make ourselves unhappy, by trying to have all the same things our neighbors do.
    The poor, know who they are. Some of the well off, do not recognize that they are well off, so they go through life miserable, because they cannot or have not reached the expectations they have set for their lives.
    My blog, was not for you. It was for those who have not taken the time to count their blessings, because they are too busy whining about the things that they do not have, and do not need. Big difference.
    I am having real trouble, understanding why people who are not well off, think I am speaking to their situation. Those, who like you, are really struggling, are in our prayers. Those of us, who are better off, need to be supportive of those who have not. In most communities there are people who are struggling. In most communities, their is some organization devoted to helping such people. Our responsibility, is to remember the poor, and seek to help them. The poor have a responsibility too, to try to rise up out of their poverty, and until they do, brush aside any pride they have that might keep them fron receiving help offered. Failing to do that, both those who want to help, and those who need it, are both missing a blessing.

  16. Omegaman 2.0 Says: 

    There has been considerable contention on this topic. It is as though there are two ways of seeing the world. On the one hand, there is a recogition of a problem and an attitude, and what can be done about it. One the other hand, there are those who are reactionary, and find fault with that. Some of those, were in a self-described condition of poverty and sought to defend their condition, as if they were the targets of an attack.
    A few got the actual message, and I am grateful for that. I can see that there is not likely to be much said here, that has not already been said.
    While it may not be fair that I get to have the last word, I hope it is something you can live with. If you really need to tell me off, I am available several evenings a week in the chatroom, generally in the 7 to midnight west U.S. coast time. I will be happy to hear your further criticisms there.
    For now, I am closing this topic to further comments, feeling that this topic has run it’s course.
    Thank you for reading it, and special thanks to those who chose to voice their opinions.

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