20 things the poor really do every day


Dave Ramsey probably wasn’t expecting this much pushback when he shared a piece by Tim Corley contrasting the habits of the rich with those of the poor. In her response on CNN, Rachel Held Evans noted that Ramsey and Corley mistake correlation for causality when they suggest (without actually proving) that these habits are the cause of a person’s financial situation. (Did it never occur to them that it might be the other way around?)

Ramsey fired back, calling the pushback “immature and ignorant.” This from a guy who just made 20 sweeping assertions about 47 million poor people in the US — all based on a survey of 361 individuals.

That’s right. To come up with his 20 habits, Corley talked to just 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. Ramsey can talk all he wants about Corley’s research passing the “common-sense smell test,” but it doesn’t pass the “research methodology 101” test.

To balance the picture a bit, I wanted to take a fact-based look at 20 things the poor do on a daily basis…

1. Search for affordable housing.
Especially in urban areas, the waiting list for affordable housing can be a year or more. During that time, poor families either have to make do with substandard or dangerous housing, depend on the hospitality of relatives, or go homeless.
(Source: New York Times)

2. Try to make $133 worth of food last a whole month.
That’s how much the average food stamp recipient gets each month. Imagine trying to eat well on $4.38 per day. It’s not easy, which is why many impoverished families resort to #3…
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

3. Subsist on poor quality food.
Not because they want to, but because they can’t afford high-quality, nutritious food. They’re trapped in a food system that subsidizes processed foods, making them artificially cheaper than natural food sources. So the poor are forced to eat bad food — if they’re lucky, that is…
(Sources: Washington Post; Journal of Nutrition, March 2008)

4. Skip a meal.
One in six Americans are food insecure. Which means (among other things) that they’re sometimes forced to go without eating.
(Sources: World Vision, US Department of Agriculture)

5. Work longer and harder than most of us.
While it’s popular to think people are poor because they’re lazy (which seems to be the whole point of Ramsey’s post), the poor actually work longer and harder than the rest of us. More than 80 percent of impoverished children have at least one parent who works; 60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time. Overall, the poor work longer hours than the so-called “job creators.”
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

6. Go to bed 3 hours before their first job starts.
Number 15 on Ramsey and Corley’s list was, “44% of [the] wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of [the] poor.” It may be true that most poor people don’t wake up three hours before work starts. But that could be because they’re more likely to work multiple jobs, in which case job #1 means they’re probably just getting to bed three hours before job #2 starts.
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

7. Try to avoid getting beat up by someone they love.
According to some estimates, half of all homeless women in America ran away to escape domestic violence.
(Source: National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009)

8. Put themselves in harm’s way, only to be kicked to the streets afterward.
How else do you explain 67,000 63,000 homeless veterans?
(Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs, updated to reflect the most recent data)

9. Pay more than their fair share of taxes.
Some conservative pundits and politicians like to think the poor don’t pay their fair share, that they are merely “takers.” While it’s true the poor don’t pay as much in federal income tax — usually because they don’t earn enough to qualify — they do pay sales tax, payroll tax, etc. In fact, the bottom 20% of earners pay TWICE as much in taxes (as a share of their income) as do the top 1%.
(Source: Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, January 2013)

10. Fall further behind.
Even when poverty is the result of poor decision-making, often it’s someone else’s choices that make the difference. If you experience poverty as a child, you are 3-4 times less likely to graduate high school. If you spend your entire childhood in poverty, you are 5 times less likely to graduate. Which means your future has been all but decided for you.
(Sources: World Vision, Children’s Defense Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation)

11. Raise kids who will be poor.
A child’s future earnings are closely correlated to their parents’ earnings. In other words, economic mobility — the idea that you can claw your way out of poverty if you just try hard enough is, more often than not, a myth.
(Sources: OECD, Economic Policy Institute)

12. Vote less.
And who can blame them? I would be less inclined to vote if I didn’t have easy access to the polls and if I were subjected to draconian voter ID laws that are sold to the public as necessary to suppress nonexistent voter fraud.
(Source: The Center for Voting and Democracy)

13. When they do vote… vote pretty much the same as the rest of us.
Following their defeat in 2012, conservatives took solace by reasoning that they’d lost to a bunch of “takers,” including the poor, who voted for Democrats because they want free handouts from big government. The reality is a bit more complex. Only a third of low-income voters identify as Democrats, about the same for all Americans, including wealthy voters.
(Sources: NPR, Pew Research Center)

14. Live with chronic pain.
Those earning less than $12,000 a year are twice as likely to report feeling physical pain on any given day.
(Source: Kaiser Health News)

15. Live shorter lives.
There is a 10-14 year gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. In recent years, poor people’s life expectancy has actually declined — in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet.
(Source: Health Affairs, 2012)

16. Use drugs and alcohol pretty much the same as (or less than) everyone else.
Despite the common picture of inner city crack houses, drug use is pretty evenly spread across income groups. And rich people actually abuse alcohol more than the poor.
(Source: Poverty and Learning, April 2008)

17. Receive less in subsidized benefits than corporations.
The US government spends around $60 billion on public housing and rental subsidies for low-income families, compared to more than $90 billion on corporate subsidies. Oil companies alone get around $70 billion. And that’s not counting the nearly $60 billion a year in tax breaks corporations enjoy by sheltering profits offshore. Or the $700 billion bailout banks got in 2008.
(Source: Think By Numbers)

18. Get themselves off welfare as soon as possible.
Despite the odds, the vast majority of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls within five years. Even in the absence of official welfare-to-work programming, most welfare recipients enroll in some form of vocational training. Why? Because they’re desperate to get off welfare.
(Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)

19. Have about the same number of children as everyone else.
No, poor people do not have loads of children just so they can stay on welfare.
(Source: US Department of Health and Human Services)

20. Accomplish one single goal: stay alive. 
Poverty in America may not be as dire as poverty in other parts of the world, but many working poor families are nonetheless preoccupied with day-to-day survival. For them, life is not something to be enjoyed so much as endured.

These are the real habits of the poor, those with whom Jesus identifies most closely.

[Note: For a followup to this post, see “Poverty is more than a matter of poor decision-making.]

Photo: 401kcalculator.org / CC BY-SA 2.0

803 thoughts on “20 things the poor really do every day

  1. Although not everyone on welfare has loads children to stay on welfare, there are many that do. I live in a small community of 2000 people, and I have three people on my block alone who I know for a fact have 5+ children and refused to work. While I put myself through my senior year of college barely getting by and paying my own way. This article may have truth, but it doesn’t apple to the entire population.


    1. The average household receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) has 1.8 children. Which is less than than the average American household.


      1. You’re my new hero. . . Thanks for defending those of us that work our butts off day in and day out to earn $43,000…1/3 goes to rent, 1/3 goes to child care and 1/3 goes to medical expenses for my special needs child…Who pays the utilities and food? Certainly not government. Despite my status as a single mother of 2, one with special needs; 1 baby-daddy that doesn’t believe in child support and the other whose parental rights were terminate so he doesn’t have to pay for his child, I am not eligible for ANY benefits, not even a child care subsidy…

        BTW, I took Dave Ramsay’s classes…Can’t save when you have to borrow to live…and a little side note, I do NOT have credit card debt…


      2. Thanks Staci. It’s an honor to speak up for families like yours. Also, you make such a good point about Ramsey’s classes: can’t save what you don’t have. If we want people to live within their means, we have work to do to make sure they can a decent wage in the first place…


      1. Having children is work. I personally think most jobs are easier than raising multiple kids.

        Birth control does not always work so should we get the poor sterilized? Or should we force them to have abortions?

        God tells us to have children. For some people, this is a religious tenet. God promises to provide for our children. God has provided for them, we just aren’t satisfied with the method.


  2. I am disgusted by these people’s comments blaming the poor. Oh! they say, I work hard and I don’t like subsidizing the poor, who are poor because of their own bad habits. For one, there may come a day when you need help, and with this attitude it most likely won’t be there when you need it. Nobody gets rich off of welfare. Sure, there are some scammers, but it’s really hard these days to commit welfare fraud. A recent study found (look it up for yourselves, since you’re so smart) that the incidence of fraud among food stamp recipients was 2%. The incidence of fraud among businesses who receive agricultural subsidies from the USDA (which administers both programs) was on the order of about 45%. So all you people bitching about the poor people you subsidize, you are kicking down. Corporate welfare and fraud dwarf the amounts of money spend on programs to help poor people. GE paid no income tax! Stop being so stupid, small minded and brain washed. Why do corporations need welfare anyway? They can’t make it without help? Start thinking about this, please. The American Dream is dead. The ladder was pulled up and they are coming to steal everything. They will not be happy until we are living in cardboard boxes and dumpster diving for food. It will be your formerly middle class children who will be living that life. Focus on what’s important and that is the corporate takeover of our government. When that is addressed, I’ll take claims of welfare fraud more seriously. It wasn’t poor people who crashed the economy. The parasite class did that and made us the taxpayers pay for it! Nobody went to jail. Remember that. There’s one set of rules for the rich and another for everybody else. You want change? Change that!


    1. Wow. You are the first commenter that seems to have a grasp on reality.

      Criminals in government are sucking every last bit of wealth out of this country. You can’t live off the land, you can’t grow crops in your yard, you can’t build your own house, you can’t collect rain water, you can’t go fishing or hunting, you can’t do anything without paying a fee and getting a permission from corrupt bureaucrats. We are screwed from the moment we are born. Each year new regulations are silently added to the books, taxes are raised, and agreements are made in smoky rooms that ensure the remainder of America jobs will soon be shipped overseas. Our economy has been intentionally destroyed and those lucky enough to have a stable income point the finger at the poor.

      There are only 3 things we need to do to tackle the poverty issue:

      1. End the Federal Reserve. Have the U.S. print its own money.

      2. Abolish the income tax.

      3. Throw out every one of the millions of laws and regulations that paralyze economic growth and shut down American jobs.

      Freedom will bring so much wealth into America that the quality of life for any working person will far surpass that of a person subsisting on government handouts. Only the truly needy will remain on the government dole.

      The system was rigged from the start. It took international banking conglomerates 100 years to implement each necessary step that would allow the complete destruction of America. The same processes have been use to take down hundreds of countries before, but the people are too blind to see. They stare into their televisions, worshiping professional liars and bought-and-paid for politicians, only seeking to advance their own interests. By the time they realize we may be too far down the rabbit hole. So do a little research about the current state of the world and give food to those in need while you still can.


      1. So would those regulations include environmental, workplace safety, etc.?

        Hungry for the days of the robber barons, are we?


    2. I’ve been reading these comments for over an hour and you’re the first person to actually state reality!
      Most of these people seem to just be parrotting talking points from their brain-washing box.
      What is taking place in this country is a very obvious agenda and it’s all by design.


  3. Ramsey’s list is not about the poor at all; it is about the middle and upper class and habits that supposedly will help them move up the social ranks and make more money. He is not saying “the poor are poor because they don’t do this,” but instead he is saying, “you should do this, or you’ll become poor! Don’t become poor, do these things and make more money!”

    You see, it has nothing to do with the poor. Ramsey doesn’t expect the poor to engage in these healthy habits; he expects the middle class to engage in them, and uses shaming (you don’t want to be like the poor, do you?) to encourage those habits.


  4. “Try to make $133 worth of food last a whole month.”

    Misleading, to say the least. That means a family of four gets over $530 (and it’s a lot easier to cook a meal for four for $12 than a meal for one for $3). Plus, there are TWENTY-SIX different federal food assistance programs, not just food stamps. That $530 goes farther when the youngest kids are also getting WIC, the older ones are getting free school lunches, etc., etc., etc.

    “60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time.”

    Which means a full 40% of children in poverty do NOT have a parent who works full time.

    “In fact, the bottom 20% of earners pay TWICE as much in taxes (as a share of their income) as do the top 1%.”

    A ridiculous comparison, to begin with – comparing the outlying top 1% of ANYTHING (especially in a distribution limited at the bottom end) to any other group is deliberately misleading. As is talking about a share of the poor’s “income”. A typical welfare family’s sustenance generally isn’t COUNTED as income. Much has been made of the claim that things like food stamps life a family above the poverty line – whether that’s true or not, food stamps don’t count as INCOME. Neither do Section 8 housing assistance or Medicaid premiums. A family of three might only have an INCOME of around $5,000, but their total assistance package, what keeps them fed, housed, and healthy, adds up to many times that amount. The paltry few hundred dollars they pay in taxes looks like a larger percentage of their CASH income, but is a minuscule portion of what they actually receive. Not to mention all the user fees that aren’t considered taxes in name only paid by everyone but the poor – school lunches, enrollment fees, book fees, bus fees, that everyone else pays and they have waived.

    “Those earning less than $12,000 a year are twice as likely to report feeling physical pain on any given day.”

    Now who’s trying to imply causation from a correlation? (Same with the lifespan gap, incidentally.)

    “Despite the odds, the vast majority of beneficiaries leave the welfare rolls within five years.”

    Then again, they DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. What they WANT or are “desperate for” is ridiculous to even theorize, and is nothing more than conjecture on your part.

    “Only a third of low-income voters identify as Democrats, about the same for all Americans, including wealthy voters.”

    Wow. Seriously? First of all, while the same percentage of poor people IDENTIFY as Democrats as the general public, there are SUBSTANTIALLY fewer poor people who IDENTIFY as Republicans – just many more who CLAIM to be Independents. However, in the 2008 election, almost 60% of those making $30K or less voted for Obama in 2008, and over 70% of those making less than $15K. It doesn’t matter what party they IDENTIFY themselves with, what matters is how they VOTE.

    Sorry, Ben, but your article is nothing more than a biased opinion piece, and words like “research” are laughably out of place.


    1. Where on earth are you getting an income of $5000 for a family of three? Is that poor in your world? One person earning minimum wage, working full time, only makes 1,160 a month, gross. I would be willing to bet that’s less than many of your (those people screaming about those darn lazy poor leeches) mortgages. Get a grip on your own privilege, and maybe spend some time with people in poverty, then your criticisms *might* hold some validity.


      1. Um – that’s $5000 per YEAR for a family of three, about what the normal amount of TANF comes out to. And besides the fact that my entire career has been spent working with people that didn’t even have that, AND that my family has lived on that much, child – I wasn’t whining that anybody owed me anything more. But thanks for playing anyway.


  5. I meditate, and these habits are ABSOLUTELY the reason they stay poor. It’s unfortunate and can be tough, but you must live “As Though.” Yup, the ole “fake it until you make it” routine. That is if you want to find the “way.” And meditation attitudes thought or spoken whenever anything is noticed will quickly put you headed in the OPPOSITE direction, i.e. poor to rich, sick to well, etc. This isn’t an opinion folks, this is a fact. You have to think and live as much as you can like you ALREADY have money, health, whatever, in order to get it. So get busy being thankful. Gratitude will get you anything!!!


    1. People have been trashing my comments on this blog and generally making comments about how you have to live like a poor person to know what they are dealing with.

      I have lived it, but I live it no more … I owe it all to that evil evil man Dave Ramsey.

      I am living proof of that bootstrap method of pulling ones self out of poverty.

      Do I feel sorry for the poor? Yes.
      Do I believe that the vast majority of poor folks can get out of their poverty lifestyle? Yes.
      Can they do it on their own? Some can, most cannot.

      I help as many people as I can, and yet I am continually berated by ignorant folks who claim my view from an ivory tower somehow disqualifies me from making a judgement about why a person continues in a life of poverty when they could change their lot in life with some reasoned changes in their lifestyle.

      I know from experience that it isn’t easy to live in poverty, but it is much easier than changing your way of life to get out of poverty.

      Incidentally, poverty is a function of household income based on the number of people in the household. The government makes no distinction between those with poverty wages with no assets and those with poverty wages with lots of assets. I have a brother in law with 650 acres of land and 3 houses. His monthly income is $745. He spends more time traveling than anyone I know. If you were to ask him, he would tell you right quick that money doesn’t make you happy and things don’t make you happy. Living life makes you happy … and he is a very happy man.


      1. This is a great comment. My husband comes from India, and they do not have ANY programs like we have in the United States. He worked HARD to even get to the United States and he was only allowed to work 20 hours per week at college. And yet, he has done exactly what everyone here is saying is impossible. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps, got a Master’s degree with a combination of student loans (which almost everyone can qualify for) and scholarships (mostly through the school) and now we are doing pretty well…But that is after SEVEN years of hard work to get as highly educated as he could. And I was working 10 to 12 hours per day (roughly 6 days per week most of the time) until he got the job where he is currently working.

        Habits and behavior are important. What you do with your money is essential. In this country, it IS possible to reach any financial goal….but you have to start somewhere and Dave Ramsey gives some excellent advice on where to start. Good comment and great points.


  6. Having worked as a community developer in the inner city, I have to add that it’s far more discouraging than this report. Once a hard working person loses their job in this economy, they fall into a downward spiral that is nearly impossible to climb out of. Without an income, the first thing to go is your housing, then your car, then your phone and internet. With all of the libraries closing and public transportation so expensive, it becomes overwhelming. How can someone who is dirty, has no resume or a phone, get a job? Any of you who doubt this are welcome to go undercover for just one week and try to get a job, housing, phone, car etc. When you have lost your foot hold in our culture, you had better have generous friends and family or it’s OVER for you. I DARE you to give it a try. Let’s see how judgmental you after just one torturous week of walking in their shoes.


    1. It happens, and sadly it happens in exactly the order you describe. I don’t live in an urban area and I didn’t have a car for a long time, and yet I still managed to find a way to walk to and from work every day.

      As a son of a sharecropper whose parents worked long hard days picking cotton for a paltry existence, I can say with absolute certainty that there is absolutely no excuse for a person being dirty.


  7. I can’t help but feel that if the original Ramsey blog had presented its data more sensitively, it would have been a more nuanced debate from the outset. For all of those statistics (regardless of how exact they are) it is worth asking, why? Aspiration, hope, and opportunity are going to be reoccuring themes here. His words about overcoming fatalism are valid, but we need to do that by helping, not condemning each other. There are things people do if they see no point and want to escape from the misery of their lives. Those original stats suggest there are ways of thinking and feeling that are a lot easier if you are well off. I suspect having that attitude is a great help. What it comes down to though, is this… do we want to try and understand and help those who are struggling, or do we want to blame them and shrug off all responsibility? So long as poverty is deemed the failure of the poor, and so long as being rich is taken to be an indication of being a good person, we won’t ask the questions we need to about homeless service people, access to books and education, and poverty of hope.


  8. I do agree with some of these findings but not all. I know there are a lot of people in this world that are poor not because they want to be but because no matter how hard they try by working multiple jobs, trying to save, their finances never get any better. I know first hand of this. I have always worked two jobs, raised my two daughters by myself, tryed to go to college to get a better job. But there are some people in this world who do continue to have children, to stay on the state assistance programs, go to college, to get the funding from the goverment and get one degree then continue on for another and never get a job doing what it is they got the degree for. They like the money they receive and do not have to play back.


  9. the victim mentality indeed . not my fault not my fault not my fault
    It is my location,my upbringing,my family,my spouse,my whatever
    grow up, dress up show up and WORK . I have been truly dirt poor in a rural area with no future employment other than min wage ag jobs ( back when min wage was $1.50 if you were lucky I hauled lots of hay for .01 cents a bale ) . But I knew how to WORK I took multiple jobs and saved what I could . i made time to go to the local Library ( 15 miles away ) and read everything I could on improving my lot in life . I ate lots of ramen and spam . when my jobs got better i did not spend my money on women and beer like my compatriots . I saved and I learned to invest I bougfht hooptie cars I could pay cash for and now many years later ( with the help of info from folks like Ramsey ) I am not rich but what I have is paid for and I am comfortable My kids are going to nice schools
    are many of the behaviors of the poor due to poverty … yes but habits habits are what YOU make them


    1. Were any of those books you checked out from the library focused on using proper grammar, syntax, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling? Asking for a friend!


    2. You are literally describing an entirely different work environment than the one people face today. There simply AREN’T jobs where you can show up and be given bales of hay to haul. Many of those jobs have been automated, or outsourced. McDonald’s is turning down applicants.

      The cost of living has grown more than the minimum wage- more than a lot of non-minimum wages, even. Utility costs have risen and more utilities are becoming functional necessities as people assume everyone has a car, internet access, a phone, etc.


      1. I don’t know where you live, but a quick check of the local jobs board in my community shows more than 1000 job listings. This is a community of less than 60,000 yet we still have folks complaining they cannot find a job. I think many of them simply don’t want a job.


      2. Just because the job is available doesn’t mean the employer wants to hire anyone who walks in. My husband went on dozens of interviews, he is highly skilled and well spoken, but I believe they would not hire him because he had to college degree. Unfortunately, the poor often do not have an opportunity to go to college until they have a family to support. So now we are desperately trying to pay bills while he goes to school full time. We have never had credit card debt, but now have to use a charge card to get to and from school and look for jobs.


  10. Census poverty rate is 12% yet, 22% of children live in poverty. http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/. How is it possible given you assert the poor average the same number of chilren as everyone else? By the way, as a statistician, having a relatively low sample does not “fail research methods 101” if it is a stratified random sample. National nightly election stats every four years are based on less than n=361. While I am sympathetic to abest, more fair examination of the life of the poor, I find the ignorant haughty tone insufferable.


    1. Inconvenient facts … any survey of poor people wouldn’t satisfy their strict guidelines unless you asked every poor person in the country, and then even if you did they would find some other reason to discount the data.

      I live in a data world. Trends can be easily discerned from very small samples provided the samples are gathered correctly, especially if the results are able to be duplicated.

      I find the vast majority of the comments here simple bloviating by ignorant folks.


      1. You may live in a data world, but you clearly don’t have the first idea what any of it means. Your reliance on anecdote as if it were data, your clear lack of understanding in basic statistical methods, and your reliance on memes instead of research all make clear your positions as NOT based on data.
        As to “inconvenient facts”, what would those be. You haven’t posted any, at least none that are relevant to the topic.


      2. anecdote – Noun; A short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person

        Incidentally, the plural of anecdote IS data.


    2. First, how is it possible? Because the average number of children per couple is greater than unity.
      Second, you need to retake stats. A stratified random sample only gives reliable, statistically significant results if the sample size in each strata is random and large enough to meet statistical criteria.
      Third, your assertion that n<361 in national election polls is pure and utter nonsense.


  11. Leaving aside the holes in several of these claims, I’ve never seen anything as inaccurate as #18. I work in a welfare office and don’t even know where to begin hacking that one apart. Wrong, wrong, wrong in every way on so many counts. First, it is not true (despite the alleged “proof” of a misleading government statistic) that “most” enroll in vocational training. Second, less than a quarter of those who do actually COMPLETE the training. I don’t know what the purpose of this article is, but if it’s to generate sympathy and make us resent income redistribution less, lying to our faces is not the way to go about it. Don’t even get me started on the claims of “the vast majority” leaving the welfare rolls in five years.

    Finally, no, the poor do NOT pay “more than their share” in taxes. It’s the middle class who does, and the rich are taxed at a disproportionally high rate. The author’s misleading method of illustrating tax liability has been used by poverty pimps for years, but it only works on those who have no real understanding of the issue.


    1. Why would you “leave aside the holes in several of these claims”? Could it be because that’s your only choice? Because you don’t know what you’re talking about?

      Look, take this list as a whole and read between the lines: It’s fucking shitty and terrible and hard to be really poor in America—as 47 million of your neighbors are. It’s almost impossible to claw your way out of poverty.

      Why not show some compassion instead of being an elitist?


      1. Or maybe it’s because if the author is going to cherry pick (from inaccurate/misleading data at that), only a certain point or two stands out as being the most deserving of disputing? STBE picked one that they apparently know a lot about, firsthand. I addressed a few of them that I knew a few things about. Your own response was … what, again? “Nuh-uh!”???


      2. Your comments are laughable. To assert that 47 million Americans are really poor shows how you do not understand the term, nor do you understand the relationship of individual income vs family income vs assets.

        I have a very good friend of mine who is one of those 47 million you so proudly point out. He earns just over $1400 a month. He would tell you how wrong you are about his shitty lifestyle.


      3. Brian Hughes, do you think it has escaped anyone’s notice that you make these assertions but even after having called out the O.P. for failing to back up his baseless claims with ANY sort of citation of empirical evidence, you nonetheless fail yourself to do so.
        As to knowing a lot about things, I have seen no evidence that either of you know much about much of anything.
        As to your cute throwing in of the straw man argument at the end of your response, well, not only did not fail to accurately reflect the comment to which you are replying, you failed to even address its minor points, let alone the comment as a hole.


  12. Wow, what a great response. I hope everyone involved is really listening. There are some stupid points by both sides, but there are some very valid points by both sides, too.

    Many people who dislike Ramsey’s post do so because they are judging his intentions as to slam the poor. Some will choose to blame Ramsey for “hurtful” points. Other will choose to blame the person who doesn’t receive the message as stubborn or unwilling to change.

    I mentioned prices of some foods as examples of healthy alternatives. One person responded saying that in urban poor areas (aka “food deserts”) these prices cannot be had. True, but I did qualify what I said with “in most areas.” I don’t live in a wealthy area — I live in a small town whose residents have a low median income. My daughter’s elementary school is a Title I school, and 58% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

    I can’t speak about the poor in your neighborhood, but I know plenty of poor in my area. As much as I would love to help the people in your neighborhood, there is little chance I can do anything (directly at least) to help people in your neighborhood. I can, however, help people in my area.

    It’s true that not EVERY recommendation will be achievable by every person. It’s funny how the arguments against Ramsey’s list are all over the place. On one hand, the poor are working two or three jobs without even an hour between jobs to cook a chicken breast and slap it between two pieces of toast. On the other hand, the poor are eating on only $145 a month. It’s highly doubtful there are many people who fall on BOTH of those hands.

    It seems the biggest argument against Ramsey’s list isn’t in the merit of the items in the list, but writing the items off as unattainable. Perhaps his biggest mistake was in not communicating his intentions. I haven’t listened to his show in years, but I remember one of his signature items is the “Debt snowball.” He encourages listeners to pick the smallest balance debt and attack it first while keeping their head above water on the others. Then when you get the one debt cleared up you go to the next, applying the money you save from not paying the first payment to paying down the 2nd.

    My point is that probably few people will be able to do all the items on his list. I doubt that was his point. I think the point is to encourage people to make changes where they can with the resources they have. People may be able to improve in that one area, and graduate to yet another.

    I also know from listening to him he encourages his listeners to give. Isn’t that a good goal — to succeed so that one can help his/her brother/sister?


    1. Sadly some people don’t want a way out, they want a handout.

      I tried to help a friend of mine get his finances in order many times, but he continues to pay “stupid tax” because it is easier than doing without.

      Once upon a time, I spent nearly 40% of my income in “stupid tax” … with two children and a wife who was unable to work, we were the quintessential “poor family”.

      Dave Ramsey showed me that I could make a $100k shift in my financial situation by doing some small things now so later I could enjoy the big things. I am debt free and loving life.

      I do not feel guilty one bit and the pity I feel for poor folks is that they are too blind to see that they too can change their lot in life if they would simply listen to the folks that have done it.

      I am always willing to help folks, and I have helped a great number of folks, but it was through counseling and guidance, not by giving them something just because they were poor.


  13. I took a quick little “jaunt” through the comments. In just the few I read, I was whisked away on a time-machine, back to days of yore when the voice of God was the voice of the Church, and the Church was pissed!! Have I underestimated the present?! Your blog entry is not only a kind and gentle one, it makes me glad and humbled to be alive in a day when some of us see Jesus…really!! The poor and the needy have no qualifying sheet to fill out with the man who said he loves them, before he (us?) can reach out to touch them. The sound of anger, of righteous indignation, is hauntingly familiar to me-I once made quite a sound myself. But my life is a simpler one now…and Love is the reason, the thread, and the truth. I will choose to do the foolish thing over the correct theological (and political?) one every time…I hope.


  14. Why doesn’t Ramsey delve into a month-long ‘experiment’ in urban, suburban & rural economically depressed loctions for a few weeks, to live amongst the singles, families, sick/ diminished, & raise the poor up on his plans, and prove ‘it can be done’. Have an independent filmmaker document it (with impunity).
    It would make or break the panacea of his products. It’d make -great- viewing..
    or get a few others, and make it a contest, like combining Trump’s show, Shark Tank, Biggest Loser and Secret Millionaire, but have successful people raise up the poor by ‘coaching’ them out of poverty, or into stability/ self-sustaining..


    1. Because you obviously have never listened to him, otherwise you would now that at one time, the man had a fortune that he lost. He lived hand to mouth, no car, no house, and no income with a wife and kids to support. He has lived it, you are just to stupid to realize it.


      1. Ah, I see. The stupid man had a single typographical error in one of a myriad of posts. I suppose I have to own that one, Mr Grammar Nazi.


  15. I recall a kid a knew when I was younger whose mom had a surprising reaction when she learned her son was promoted into the academically demanding curriculum at school. She marched up to the school and shared her indignation with the principal and her son’s teachers, giving them all the reasons why her son couldn’t POSSIBLY do this, and he just isn’t CAPABLE of doing that. And how they just don’t understand her son’s situation, so forth and so on.

    Who knows? Maybe the mother was correct. But I remember what a blow it was to that kid’s self esteem. So many posts sound like my friend’s mom. Why not encourage people to TRY and do the things on this list? Maybe instead of attacking the messenger, we can help support your local YMCA’s scholarship program so people without means can go use the facilities? Stop finding reasons people are GOING TO fail, and let’s pitch in and encourage people so they can make improvements.


  16. Chris doesn’t have his facts straight. you can NOT buy alcohol and tobacco with food stamp money!! I’ve been on food stamps, and while I never tried to buy alcohol or tobacco, I did have to buy food and it was never enough money. I was a single mother with 4 kids and I got barely $500 Of food stamps money. I still had to work really hard to cover the rest of our food budget and all of our other bills like rent and utilities ….And the car to drive and gas. When my paycheck didn’t cover those things, I still had to look To churches and food banks to make up the difference. I received no child support from their father. Being poor is a lesson in humility every single day and you work your ass off to get away from it. so those of you who don’t know what you’re talking about shouldn’t be speaking on the subject.


    1. But to be fair, you wouldn’t have been nearly as poor if you hadn’t squatted out four little kids. Stick to one next time? Or maybe none?


      1. Wow, what an enormously douchey comment. You don’t know her story, dude. She had those kids with someone who is no longer with her. If they’re Catholic or Christian they’re encouraged to not use birth control. Ridiculous to me, but religion is religion. No one predicts they’re going to be a single parent when they’re planning their wedding or they wouldn’t get married/have kids in the first place.

        What do you suggest society do to limit the number of children born each day? Who gets to be in charge of who gets to “squat out” how many? I personally believe people SHOULD limit the number of children they have, but luckily society isn’t made up of a bunch of me clones. In the meantime, mix a little compassion in with your self-righteousness. And use your snarkiness for good, not evil. Wit is an endangered species nowadays and you’re using yours irresponsibly.


    2. Wow, $500 is not enough for a family of four huh. We are an upper middle class family and a family of four and we budget $600/month for food. None of us are close to starving and we eat good healthy meals. The additional $100 we spend could be cut without much effort. It would mean buying lettuce rather than salad mix, it would mean not buying the bag of Doritos, it wouldn’t mean I would barely survive.


    3. Ok, the problem I see is why did the kids’ father not pay any child support? That sounds like the real cause of your difficulties. It sounds like you have improved your situation since that time, congratulations. Maybe you could share how you climbed out of the hole you were in?


    4. You are right, but I know many that simply work it other ways .. for example, I know one man who goes to his neighbors and says he will go buy their groceries for them .. you know, ’cause he is a nice guy. He uses his SNAP benefits to buy his neighbors food, the neighbor then reimburses him with cash and guess what, he buys booze with the cash. He doesn’t smoke so no smokes for him.

      Despite being turned in for fraud he still gets benefits and still does the same thing.

      Please explain to me how he needs those SNAP benefits again.


  17. This post covers a lot of territory, and there are lots of others from my own experience:

    For example:

    Collecting cans and bottles for the gas money to go to the next job interview, selling one’s blood plasma twice a week, cruising trash day for household furnishings, feeding your child out of the dumpster behind supermarkets, living without electricity for months at a time, living without heat or water ditto, raiding the piles of donated items left unprotected outside of the Goodwill box, bringing your child to happy hour at the Holiday Inn, where buying a soft drink would give access to an appetizer buffet, trading food stamps for childcare in order to be able to interview for jobs, spending decades on waiting lists for affordable housing, and in the mean time, moving, moving, moving,. and …

    Well, it goes on and on.


    1. You know what, I was once in the exact situation you describe … I’ve done it all, except of course committing foodstamp fraud, and guess what, I don’t feel sorry for people who continue to live that lifestyle when it is wholly possible to get out.


  18. Some of these comments are so infuriating. Yeah, there are some poor who try to screw the system and are lazy bastards but guess what, there are rich who screw the system every single day too and make some pretty poor decisions.
    Some of the things that make no sense are people bitching about how one parent may only work part time or stay at home. My daughters preschool/daycare costs $1200 a month and then the sitter who picks her up until I get out of work is another $1000 a month. That’s $2200!! Two parents working at minimum wage wouldn’t be able to afford that. It’s way cheaper to have one parent stay at home with the kids or only work part time.
    Then people saying they spend $110 a month on groceries for their family? Really? What, do they bake their own bread and grow their own veggies? Must be nice! My family of 3 spends about $100/$130 a week so that I can make well rounded, healthy meals. I live in a big city, I can’t grow anything and everything costs, costs, costs way more than other towns.
    I live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t want to be poor. I’m not poverty level poor I don’t think because I am able to pay my rent and bills and buy what I need to live and go on a little vacation every year. I don’t use credit at all! I refuse to dig myself into that hole. I’m a single mom. I was an orphan. I have no diploma or college education. I do have a good job though.
    I guess statistically I should be living in a trailer being beaten by my boyfriend, doing drugs and not working with multiple kids by different dads. I say F*%k the statistics.

    I’m not sure what my point is. I guess I just get mad how people think “rich and poor” is so black and white. Poor people differ. Rich people differ. They all have their own stories and reasons for being in the life that they lead. No amount of research or bitching or stereotyping is going to peg everyone into one nice category.
    Just f’ing respect people. Whoever they are.


    1. $110/month for food for a family of three =
      $3.66/day for food for a family of three =
      $1.22/meal for a family of three =
      $0.41 per meal per person

      I call a hearty “bullshit!”


    2. “Then people saying they spend $110 a month on groceries for their family? Really? ”

      I believe the article says people on food stamps average 133 PER PERSON. And as I mentioned in my earlier comment, food stamps are only one of TWENTY-SIX federal food assistance programs.


      1. Brian, not sure I was talking about your post. Unless you’re the teacher who makes 42k a year.


    3. The system should err on the side of generosity. It’s better that the occasional freeloader does foolish things with their welfare check than we scrutinize it so closely that people in genuine need are denied aid because someone notices the widescreen TV they were given as a gift…


  19. All this talk about “The Poor” as if “they” are not “we” Unfortunate events or unforeseen catastrophes over which none of us have direct control, could bring you or me, or anyone of “us” into this category; at least financially. Could someone please define “POOR” please?! What does this really mean? In my life I have known many “poor” wealthy people but many more rich “poor” people. I don’t believe that a dollar figure can define either term. And, what about those of us who make life decisions outside of the financial realm. Those of us for whom money is never the object, richness is. Yes, I have to be careful about financial expenditures and certainly do not consider myself to be defined as a “consumer”, thank goodness! I am, at least according to the government, considered “poor”. But I consider myself wealthy in all the ways that are important.


  20. Bravo, Ben. This is important information to remind us of, and it should be re-run every few weeks.

    As to the commenters here who have a general “no pity, no compassion, pull yourself up by your bootstraps” attitude: You are a shameful blight on this otherwise lovely country. To suggest that the 47 million Americans who are living in poverty are somehow deficient as human beings, who are just lazy and stupid—-it’s wrong, just simply flat out wrong. (As Ben so expertly points out above.)

    The federal government is a wholly owned subsidiary of enormous multinational corporations, who use the government to rig the game in their favor—to make more money for a very select few, all on the backs (and lives and wallets) of 98% of our population. If you think that’s not true, if you think that Wal-Mart is a fantastic institution because they create jobs and help lower prices, then you’re either willfully naive or you value all the wrong things.

    Let’s help out our neighbors, and let’s—let’s ALL of us—do everything in our power (what little of it remains) to fight the system that has put us in this dire, shameful situation.


  21. This list is really interesting and goes along way in explaining the way some people get trapped in a delusional pattern of thinking. The bottom line here is this: Teach your children HOW to THINK. Otherwise they will certainly be told to WHAT to THINK and then things like the 20 rather comical items that appear on this list will “seem to make sense”, (which for far too many is good enough to be accepted as “fact”, sadly) because they will not have the cerebral capacity to counter each point with a valid, well thought out response and thereby be rendered defenseless in intellectual endeavors.


    1. Translation of Nathan Solla’s comment: “I think everyone who doesn’t agree with me is stupid, but instead of actually engaging people in conversation and risking finding out that other people are smart too, I just use lots of big words. I’m arrogant and kind of an ass, but I hope no one notices.”


      1. If you would lean in and listen for even five minutes, I would happily engage you in conversation. But we both know you’ve already made up your mind based, not on your own research, but upon the opinions of others. I encourage you to take the time to challenge everything you believe, EVERYTHING. Research it to the core. Follow the money. Check and double check the facts. No, I said FACTS! That’s what I did – and it changed my life forever. Until I had done that, I was simply not qualified to prattle on about my own opinion. Indeed it was not my own but owned by others. Neither are you qualified until you’ve done that. Otherwise you’ll be just like the other mindless hacks regurgitating flawed doctrines under the pretenses of “open mindedness” while the truth, by its very definition, is that you don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.


      2. “Translation of Nathan Solla’s comment:”

        Translation of ‘Me’s comment: I can’t think of any argument so I’ll just attack him personally. And in the effort, prove his point about people who disagree with him being stupid …


      3. In order for me to counter his argument, he’d have to make one first – which he didn’t. Besides, what’s the point? Nathan, and people like Nathan, choose to refuse to see anyone else’s point of view and assume that anyone who does not see the world precisely as they do is either uneducated, illogical, or stupid. It would be more productive to argue with a wall. The wall would be less intractable. That sort of black-and-white dogmatic approach is a pretty intellectually immature way to engage the world, but that’s each individual’s prerogative.


  22. “If you spend your entire childhood in poverty, you are 5 times less likely to graduate. Which means your future has been all but decided for you.”

    Didn’t you just say something about correlation does not mean causation in your intro?


    1. There is plenty of research establishing the relationship between poverty, education, and future earning potential. Establishing causation in this case is not hard.


      1. There is no such thing as proving causation with correlation. It’s impossible. And that pretty much demonstrates your utter lack of understanding of what the research actually says.

        The ONLY way to demonstrate causation is through controlled experimentation – please show us the study results where they randomly assigned average people to become rich or poor and followed them through adulthood to measure the outcome.


      2. I know you mean well, but you are mostly wrong. I can tell you that although they do work hard, they make foolish decisions that are compounded and the result of the poor education. They then enable their kids to be poor by not realizing the value of an education and allowing, yes allowing, their kids to do poorly in school or not finish. I personally believe they should link welfare benefits to the kids performance in school. If they are well behaved, attend regularly, and pass their classes, there is no effect on benefits, but if the kids don’t do these, the benefits are cut. For kids who do exceptionally well, honor roll, perfect attendance, etc, the parents should receive a ‘bonus’ for their kids achievements. By linking education to benefits, you force the parents to parent rather than use school as a ‘free’ daycare and hopefully allow the kids to escape poverty. Poverty is endemic because it becomes a way of life rather than a place to escape.

        I grew up poor and escaped despite some rather poor decisions because I grabbed on to opportunities and allowed them to pull me up I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, but for all the talk about being poor, I rarely run into poor people who cannot afford the tobacco, alcohol, dime bad, cable TV, etc that should be out of reach if they were focusing their income on food, shelter, clothes, you know – the needs. It goes back to poor decisions and the compounding effect they have on your life.

        Let’s not forget the effect that the ‘Great Society’ and no fault divorces have had on the poor families. When one parent can qualify for benefits that two parents together cannot, it forces the families to split to live. Just look at the nuclear family before and after the Great Society. It was completely flipped upside down. No dad in the house makes it hard for the mother to parent. I lived this life myself and know it to be true.


      3. 24:22 Let not those amongst you who have
        been blessed with abundance refuse to
        give to the relatives, the needy, and those
        who have immigrated in the cause of
        God. Let them pardon and forgive.
        Would you not like God to forgive you?
        God is Forgiving, Compassionate.


      4. So, wait, you want to accelerate the cycle by making the poorly educated starve faster?

        I suppose it’ll decrease the surplus population.


  23. This is good information. I have been poor and poorer. These things, at least those I have experienced, are true.
    Loudly denouncing them will not change anything, help anyone, or appease an angry God.


  24. They also:
    1) CHOOSE to have children they cannot afford by not practicing birth control
    2) CHOOSE to have MORE children after already having ones they can’t afford
    3) Buying cigarettes, lottery tickets, beer, and paying the cable TV bill before paying RENT
    4) Having unaffordable habits LIKE smoking, drinking, and playing the lottery
    5) Purchasing things they don’t need on credit, like TVs gaming systems, and the like.
    6) Getting sucked into scams because their greed overrides common sense

    No, not everyone is poor because they made bad choices, sometimes life happens, and yes it is INCREDIBLY unfair that there is no living wage laws, and that the lower the income the more taxes are paid… but having GROWN UP POOR, I can promise that it is ALSO a mentality of ignorance, and having too many babies that keeps people poor.


    1. Here’s the twist. Having grown up poor, did you ever stop to think about where the culture of the poor came from? Do people who are poor and have a limited outlook on life, and make shortsighted decisions, just pop into existence?

      The culture of poverty is created by poverty itself. The poor are “greedy” because society places ultimate emphasis on greed, on getting as much money as possible, and on buying your way into luxury and happiness. The people who have nothing are given plenty of excuses to resent it and desire to have stuff as fast as possible.

      Poverty society does not instill an awareness of the big picture in the poor, it doesn’t show people how to think in the long game. The declining quality of public education means more poor people literally know nothing, and lack basic reasoning skills – and the ability to be skeptical of things like scams.

      Poverty creates more poverty, it has always been this way. People are born knowing nothing, and much of their environment shapes their beliefs and perspective on life. It’s rare for someone to escape poverty not just because jobs are scarce – but few people luck into the specific combination of circumstances and self-awareness to drag themselves out of negative behaviors.


    2. Birth control costs money. Abortions cost even more (and health care plans can never cover them, thanks!)

      The scams exist because they are allowed to exist- because we let Rent-A-Center and its ilk promise “You can have all these magnificent luxury goods, just pay as you go!” and hope people don’t read the fine print, because we let pay day loans charge usurious interest.


      1. Usury and interest are synonymous .. only we have come to understand usury as some really large nondescript number.

        Once upon a time when the feds had the rate at 20%, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to cry usury when companies charged 33% … now that the feds have set it at 0.25% one could argue that any rate over 0.42% is usury .. but nobody does, in fact, people regularly get credit cards with 25% and think .. oh, that’s not too bad. Here is a fact for you … paying the minimum payment on a credit card with a 25% interest rate will mean you will pay for 10 years before you pay it off with only a $1500 balance. You end up paying 3 times what it would have cost to pay cash, which is exactly why buying on credit is a very bad thing, even if the rate is low.

        As an aside, not having sex is free and the last time I checked, you don’t normally get pregnant if you don’t have sex.


      2. If you understood the scam I think you would turn back on your remarks. The USA has been on a 100 year interest free loan to the Fed. Are new dollar that is printed comes with an 8% fee which is impossible to pay off because it is greater than the amount of money that exists.

        International banks have used the same process to bankrypt hundreds of third world nations before moving to Europe and the US. They eventually forgive the debts in exchange for land and water rights and new policies and regulations that screw over the people. See Africa. In the case of America, they are throwing 84 billion dollars in the trash each and every month until the dollar collpses. This is by QE Unlimited, otherwise known as the bankster bailout. And guess what? These banks are getting thousands of times more than all the food stamp recipients combined.

        The news media will not tell you this, but the information is readily available. The designed destruction of America is underway. We are going to way of the Wiemar Republic.


      3. No, I don’t think I would change my mind, because I actually do understand the whole devaluing of currency through economic policy.

        Inflation is a direct result monetary policy and the federal reserve policy of unchecked money printing.

        If people want to know why things are more expensive now than years ago, they need look no further than monetary policy.

        The problem is that as a country we are spending more money than we have, and as a result the only way to continue to spend more money than we have is to devalue the previous dollars by printing more of them. You will hear it time and again that the reason the national debt isn’t a problem is that we are paying for the debt with inflated dollars.

        Sure, the feds could conceivably print $17 trillion and use that to pay off the national debt, but the rampant inflation would turn us into Zimbabwe .. where the value of a dollar is so low that you would need a wheelbarrow to carry enough money to the store just to buy a loaf of bread.

        The wholesale printing of dollars will be the ruination of this country, and it is all in the name of preventing economic armageddon. Its coming, and the current administration seems oblivious to the problem. Of course the previous administration was too.


      4. You are right on many issues here. Obama, just like his predecessors, is not oblivious to what is happening. There has been a CIA coup in America since JFK tried to put us back on the gold standard and end international entanglements. Of course he was promptly assassinated.

        Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama all CIA. CIA is a foreign institution just like the Fed belongs to internationalists.


      5. You can get free condoms at any Planned Parenthood. Thus, birth control does not necessarily cost money.


      6. That’s provided you have a Planned Parenthood somewhere in reach. But there are people trying to shut them down as ‘abortion clinics’ despite the fact it is less than 3% of their services. So no Planned Parenthood, no free condoms.


  25. without God/Jesus we humans can never acheive a perfect delicate proportions dialectic balance of “left” and “right”, etc.
    No one is perfect we all have our bad/wrong etc “habits/decisions/judgement /mentality” etc, both poor and middleclass/rich. Somethings may be our own fault /”choices/habits/behaviour” /genetics/upbringing, but also somethings are others/system’s fault.
    “do unto others as you would have done to you”
    / “love your neighbour as your self” (both rich and also poor).
    “the truth will set you free”.
    “i require mercy not sacrifice”.
    Amos 8:4-7; James 2:6; Amos 5:9-15; Luke 3: 10-14; Isaiah 10:2; James 1:27; (Isaiah 1:23); (Micah 6:8).

    the main causes of mass unemployment (one cause of poverty/poor) are globalist capitalist big business free trade (sweat shops, cheap imports, cost cutting, restructuring/relocation etc), and immigration, and maybe technology/mass production (cp the mentioned Ford).

    people complain about “bludgers/lazy” yet no one raises a skweek about corporate share holders who brag that they don’t work hard but their money works for them.
    “We hang minor thieves and tip our hats to major ones.” (- German proverb.)

    People that have (jobs, wives/families/children, houses, etc) should be grateful for what they have.
    Often today it is all force, fear, threat, incentive, guilt, negatives, punishment, tough, harsh, individualism, work, law/legalism, responsibility, etc, there is not much love, help, positives, reward, grace/mercy, etc.

    Re food: Getting decent quality food from supermarket is not easy as everything is full of sprays, fluoride, sugar, salt, oil, soy, growth hormones, bpa, or in tins/cans (cadmium/heavy metals), blood, bone chips, irradiated, additves, etc.
    I tried apples but they are all bruised under the skin and i am sick of having to.
    I have a cow milk allergy but it is impossible to get fresh goats milk here.
    there is no organic shop where i am, i can’t have a garden in my current situation & condition (i would if i could).
    Rich people can afford water filters and/or have cars etc to get their own unfluoridated water from next city while it is a huge hastle for me to have to travel on train and carry 20L of water for kms to/from station.

    People often think they can dump their unwanted rubbish on poor. We should not give rubbish to poor. eg if i give food to someone i give what i would myself or give the best or what they most need not just poor quality.


    good free love truth work victory grateful grace mercy compassion empathy socialwelfare apprenticeships profitsharing handup responsibility education reward help family life quality God best socialcredit perfect proof fit healthy socialequality successful commoninterest etc


    selfish lazy usury work globalism freetrade victim pride scam theft dependency welfarestate corporatewelfare assumptions poverty sweatshop bludger fluoridation Cain flesh moralism judgmental slavery halftruths scrooge hyperindividualism homeless legalism hypocrite capitalism trickledowntheory slavefordole worktolive limitedchoices accuse&excuse “scribes&pharisees” world monopoly gapbetweenrich&poor povertytrap slacker liberalism etc


    1. 5:89 “God will not hold you for your
      unintentional oaths, but He will hold you
      for what oaths you have made binding
      with consideration. Its cancellation shall
      be the feeding of ten poor people from
      the average of what you feed your
      family, or that you clothe them…” ~God


  26. My family can “survive” on $1000 per month and we can live comfortably on $1400 per month … do I want to? No. My household income is roughly $2700 per month and we live a hell of a lot better than folks making twice as much.

    Being poor is a function of income, living poor is a function of spending habits.

    Ask yourself how I could have just purchased a new washer and dryer and paid $1800 cash for it.

    /I’m not rich
    //I live rich


  27. Luckily there’s still 87 people in the middle class the government can tax out of existence to help them.


    1. Empresstrudy, you have been sold a bill of goods. Inequality has increased dramatically over time, and the wages of the working class have been held down by a concerted attack on unions, deregulation, and a failure to maintain the minimum wage–all beginning in the 1980s with the replacement of Keynesian economics with “free market” ideology. This is the primary reason for increased poverty. Low wages.

      You also need to look at public benefits in historical perspective. Beginning in 1981, with the “Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act,” there has been a steady attack on benefits, with various populations targeted for different reasons. One could have thought it would get no worse after the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which eliminated children’s right to public assistance, placing a five year lifetime limit on benefits. Now food stamps are under attack. The right won’t rest until the last vestige of the welfare state is destroyed, and that means your Social Security and Medicare.

      At no time were middle class taxpayers unduly burdened by the assistance programs. Even before the attacks commenced, public benefits amounted to only 6% of the total budget. Most of your tax dollar goes to defense and things to make the lives of the wealthy more pleasant.

      Why the attack on the welfare state? Because it belongs to a different philosophy. The welfare state, which is guaranteed by the Preamble to the Constitution (“promote the general welfare”), belongs to a philosophy that says we are our brothers’ keepers, while the opponents align themselves with the John Galts of the world, with a perverted interpretation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. They are social darwinists, believing that those who can’t make it in our competitive free market environment keep down the rest of us. The sooner they disappear, the better our society will be. But even evolutionary development studies tell us that the society that takes care of its own is the society that survives.


      1. “Most of your tax dollar goes to defense and things to make the lives of the wealthy more pleasant.”

        Talk about being sold a bill of goods. Most bleeding heart liberals don’t seem to grasp that the numbers they’re spoon-fed from Rachel Madkow only include federal spending, and discretionary spending at that. Education, for example, is almost entirely funded at the local tax level. If you take ALL government spending at ALL levels, defense only amounts to about 14% – just a little less than we spend on education. But keep up the good work pushing that propaganda!


  28. Having been raised a step or two above poverty, and having raised 3 kids in the same SES, I’d have to say his comments were pretty much on target. You can bootstrap yourselves from poverty, of course. My in-laws were raised much poorer than I was, and most of my wife’s 7 siblings did all right in entry into middle-class. Character, hard work and wisdom does have a lot to do with it. Unless you enter the ministry. Then nothing can save you. That’s what I did.


  29. I would love to see those who are so emphatically anti-poor/anti-entitlements show some basic compassion and empathy towards those who are less fortunate than they are…even to those who seem or appear to “choose to have more children even when they can’t afford it.”

    Where did “love thy neighbor” go? Where did this distorted, judgmental, anti-poor argument and general resentment come from? Who planted the seeds and when? How did these beliefs take root? How has it spread like a herd mentality without a basis for their argument?

    AND why can’t those who are anti-poor, anti-homeless, etc. see that if the members of churches and non-profit groups help care and provide services for the poor and underserved, that our tax dollars could be put towards other things like infrastructure and education?


    1. Read Ben’s article, but not sure what Dave said. Dave is a good guy, so I would be surprised if any criticism was ill intentioned. Dave has helped alot of folks get back on their feet. I guess i’m wondering what the argument is about?


    2. “Love thy neighbor” is fine. There is also nothing wrong with caring for the poor and hungry. But those who love to parrot biblical ideologies usually cherry pick to make their point. So, as long as we are quoting biblical ideas, why not quote the rest of the bible? You know, like “If one does not work, neither shall they be allowed to eat”.

      But to all of the folks who point out that Jesus said to feed the poor, if you study that scripture a bit closer, you will see that the poor being described were widows, orphans, and disabled.

      I suspect that the vast majority of folks on government assistance (except perhaps social security) do not fall within any of those categories.

      Regardless, I’d invite anyone to compare their own help for the poor to mine.


      1. Seems like you missed my point, RichPoorMan.

        The orphans, women, and disabled are not the only ones we need to care or have compassion/empathy for..

        I have suspicions about your “suspicions” about the “vast majority” on gov’t assistance. Why not do some research before you make such sweeping statements about the “poor”?Your suspicions are only founded on conspiracy theories and “hunches” with no ground to stand on.


      2. Context, man! That passage is referring to Christian groups that were sitting around doing nothing because Christ was going to come back any moment and why bother? It’s an exhortation to keep working- which meant helping the poor and the sick and so on.

        Of course there’s also the bit where early Christians shared everything they had in common, implying a communal existence without a need to earn currency to live.


  30. Ever read the book Being Nickeled and Dimed, On Not Getting By In America, by Barbara Ehrenreich…an eye opener…I have a hard time believing that people really think that the poor are poor because they want to be. No one wants to suffer like that. Why do you think the rich fight so hard to keep what they have? The less they have to share or contribute from their coffers means that they won’t ever lack for anything. Lucky them.


    1. Have not read Barbara’s book, so I cannot really speak to that, but I agree that people don’t want to be poor. I guess what strikes me is two things. First, Ben’s article offers no solutions for the poor. Ramsay offers solutions with his advice. Second, there seems to be a bias against those who are rich. I really don’t get this. It’s almost like there is an explanation that people are poor because others are rich. Is it that simple? And if so how?


      1. When our grandparents and parents were growing up and raising families the expectation was that the next generation would do better. Be more successful, buy more, contribute more, live better. This is no longer the case. The distance between who has and who has not if hugely divided. There is no real simple answer either to fixing the problem. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. Offering a living wage may cost more for a business but allows the poor to be contributing consumers which in turn benefits business. Providing the funding to purchase and consume healthier foods contributes to better health, less need in the long run for medical care and lower costs to consumers for insurance. Children who eat better from the start do better in school. They learn better because they are not consumed by hunger. We used to live collectively with a sense of it “taking a village to raise up a child”. We were about goodwill and assistance gladly to those who didn’t have. Our country is no longer like that. It has become a country of individuals who feel little responsibility for their fellow man. That makes me sad. I don’t have a lot and I have struggles, however, there is always someone who needs more than I need. My kids learned to live with their needs fulfilled and some of their wants satisfied. As adults, they appreciate and take care of the things that they have while also giving to others. I’m proud of that. You know what? Never once have they come back to say that they suffered. I hope that they will continue to be contributors to those who don’t have and who need assistance. Opportunities are not the same for today’s families as in the past. While the answers to the problems of the poor aren’t simple, it behooves us all to look for them.


  31. What pulls people out of poverty are good jobs, the kind of jobs we had in the 50’s and 60’s. Middle class office jobs, factory jobs, union jobs. Where are those jobs now? In China, India, Bangladesh. Corporations farm out our jobs to countries who pay unbelievably low wages, have no one looking out for employee safety, no limit on hours worked, and no minimum age of workers. The American worker is screwed and big business and stockholders pocket the savings. The year after General Motors recorded their highest profit in the history of the company, they sent jobs overseas. The highest profit ever while keeping Americans working in a safe environment wasn’t good enough for them. They could do better by exploiting desperate people. There is one word for this type of capitalism: GREED.


    1. This is the problem and please take a look at my previous post on the issue. Not every person who wants a middle class job can have one because not enough of them exist! The system keeps the poor and “middle class” fighting while they fail to see the real reasons their incomes are shrinking.


  32. True success is not measured monetarily. God tells us over and over again to give charity to those in need and feed the poor. Please take a few minutes to read the following verses with an open heart and mind:

    2:264 O you who acknowledge, do not nullify
    your charities with insult and harm; like
    the one who spends his money in vanity
    to show the people, and he does not
    acknowledge God and the Last day. His
    example is like a stone on which there is
    dust, then it is subjected to heavy rain,
    which leaves it bare. They cannot do
    anything with what they earned; and
    God does not guide the ingrates.

    2:270 Whatever you spend out of your monies,
    or whatever you pledge as a promise,
    certainly, God knows it. The wicked
    have no supporters.
    2:271 If you declare your charity, then it is
    acceptable; but if you conceal it and give
    it to the poor, then that is better for you.
    It depreciates some of your sins; and
    God is Ever-aware of all that you do.

    2:273 As for the poor who face hardship in the
    cause of God, and cannot leave the land;
    the ignorant ones think they are rich
    from their abstention; you know them by
    their marks, they do not ask the people
    repeatedly. What you spend out of
    goodness, God is fully aware of it.

    5:89 God will not hold you for your
    unintentional oaths, but He will hold you
    for what oaths you have made binding
    with consideration. Its cancellation shall
    be the feeding of ten poor people from
    the average of what you feed your
    family, or that you clothe them, or that
    you free a slave; whoever cannot find
    shall fast for three days; as an atonement
    when you swear. You shall fulfill your
    oaths. It is such that God clarifies for
    you His signs that you may be thankful.

    9:60 The charities are to go to the poor, the
    needy, those who work on their
    collection, those whose hearts are to be
    reconciled, free the slaves, those in debt,
    in the cause of God, and to the wayfarer.
    A duty from God; God is
    Knowledgeable, Wise.

    17:26 Give the relative his due, and the poor,
    and the wayfarer; and do not waste
    17:27 Those who waste excessively are
    brothers to the devils, and the devil
    was an unappreciative of his Lord.

    22:28 So that they may witness benefits for
    themselves and recall God’s name in
    the appointed days over what He has
    provided for them of the animal
    livestock. So eat from it and feed the
    needy and the poor.

    22:36 The plump animals for offering, We
    have made them for you as decrees
    from God, in them is goodness for
    you. So mention God’s name upon
    them while being orderly, so once their
    body becomes still, then eat from them
    and give food to the poor and the
    needy. It was thus that We have made
    them in service to you, that you may be
    22:37 Neither their meat nor their blood
    reaches God, but what reaches Him is
    the righteousness from you. It was thus
    that He made them in service to you,
    so that you may glorify God for what
    He has guided you to, and give news to
    the good doers.

    30:37 Did they not see that God grants the
    provisions for whom He wills, and He is
    able? In that are signs for a people who
    30:38 So give the relative his due, and the
    poor, and the wayfarer. That is best for
    those who seek God’s presence, and they
    are the successful ones.
    30:39 Any financial interest you have placed to
    grow in the people’s money, it will not
    grow with God. But, any contribution
    that you have placed seeking His
    presence; those will be multiplied.

    47:36 This worldly life is no more than play
    and vanity. But if you acknowledge and
    lead a righteous life, He will reward you,
    and He will not ask you for your wealth.
    47:37 If He were to ask you for it, to the extent
    of creating a hardship for you, you
    would become stingy, and your hidden
    evil might be exposed.
    47:38 Here you are being invited to spend in
    the cause of God, but some among you
    turn stingy. Whoever is stingy is only
    being stingy on himself. God is the Rich,
    while you are the poor. If you turn away,
    He will substitute another people instead
    of you, then they will not be like you.

    53:43 He is the One who makes laughter and
    53:44 He is the One who takes life and gives it.
    53:45 He is the One who created the pair, male
    and female.
    53:46 From a seed that is put forth.
    53:47 He will effect the recreation.
    53:48 He is the One who makes you rich or

    58:1 God has heard the woman who argues
    with you regarding her husband, and she
    complains to God. God hears the
    argument between you. God is Hearer,
    58:2 Those among you who estrange their
    wives by saying to them: “You are as my
    mother.” They can never be as their
    mothers, for their mothers are the
    women who gave birth to them. Indeed,
    they are uttering what is strange and a
    falsehood. God is Pardoner, Forgiver.
    58:3 Those who had estranged their wives in
    this manner, then they again repeat it,
    they shall free a slave before they have
    sexual contact between them. This is to
    enlighten you. God is well aware of
    everything you do.
    58:4 If he cannot find anyone, then he shall
    fast two consecutive months before any
    sexual contact between them. If he
    cannot, then he shall feed sixty poor
    people. That is so you would
    acknowledge God and His messenger.
    These are the limits set by God. Those
    who do not appreciate have incurred a
    painful retribution.

    59:7 Whatever God provided to His
    messenger from the people of the
    townships, then it shall be to God and
    His messenger; for the relatives, the
    orphans, the poor, and the wayfarer.
    Thus, it will not remain monopolized by
    the rich among you. You may take what
    the messenger gives you, but do not take
    what he withholds you from taking. Be
    aware of God, for God is mighty in

    65:7 The rich shall provide support in
    accordance with his means, and the poor
    shall provide according to the means that
    God bestowed upon him. God does not
    burden any person more than He has
    given it. God will provide ease after

    69:34 Nor did he advocate the feeding of the
    69:35 Consequently, he has no friend here
    69:36 Nor any food, except for pollutants.
    69:37 Food for the sinners.

    74:42 “What has caused you to be in Saqar?” (Hell)
    74:43 They said, “We were not of those who
    offered support (or observed contact
    74:44 “We did not feed the poor.”

    76:6 A spring from which the servants of God
    drink, it gushes forth abundantly.
    76:7 They fulfill their vows, and they fear a
    day whose consequences are widespread.
    76:8 They give food out of love to the poor
    and the orphan and the captive.
    76:9 “We only feed you for the sake of God;
    we do not desire from you any reward or

    89:15 As for man, if his Lord tests him and
    grants him much, then he says: “My
    Lord has blessed me!”
    89:16 If his Lord tests him and gives him little
    wealth, then he says: “My Lord has
    humiliated me!”
    89:17 No, you are not generous to the orphan.
    89:18 You do not look to feeding the poor.
    89:19 You consume others inheritance, all with
    89:20 You love money, a love that is
    89:21 No, when the earth is pounded into
    89:22 Your Lord comes with the angels row
    after row.
    89:23 Hell on that day is brought. On that day
    the human being will remember, but how
    will the remembrance now help him?

    90:12 Do you know which the better path is?
    90:13 The freeing of slaves.
    90:14 Or the feeding on a day of great
    90:15 An orphan of relation.
    90:16 Or a poor person in need.

    107:1 Do you notice who rejects the system?
    107:2 It is the one who mistreats the orphan.
    107:3 Does not encourage the feeding of the

    47:29 Or did those who harbor a disease in
    their hearts think that God would not
    bring out their evil thoughts?

    47:30 If We wished, We would show them to
    you so you would recognize them by
    their looks. However, you can recognize
    them by their speech. God is fully aware
    of your works.

    9:55 So do not be impressed by their wealth
    or children; God only wishes to punish
    them with it in the worldly life, and so
    that their lives will end while they are
    9:56 They swear by God that they are with
    you, while they are not with you; but
    they are timid and divisive people.

    9:69 Like those before you; they were more
    powerful than you, and had more wealth
    and offspring. They enjoyed their lot,
    and you enjoyed your lot as those before
    you enjoyed their lives; and you
    indulged as they indulged. These are
    those whose works crumbled in this
    world and the hereafter, and they were
    the losers.

    18:39 “When you entered your garden, you
    should have said, “This is what God
    has given, there is no power except by
    God.” You may see me as being less
    than you in wealth and in children.”
    18:40 “Yet, perhaps my Lord will give me
    better than your garden, and send upon
    it a reckoning from the sky, so it
    becomes completely barren.”

    34:35 They said, “We have more wealth and
    more children, and we will not be
    34:36 Say, “My Lord gives provisions to
    whomever He wishes, or He restricts
    them, but most people do not know.”
    34:37 It is not your money or your children that
    will bring you closer to Us, but only
    those who acknowledge and do good
    work, they will receive double the
    reward for their works, and they will
    reside in the high dwellings in peace.

    47:36 This worldly life is no more than play
    and vanity. But if you acknowledge and
    lead a righteous life, He will reward you,
    and He will not ask you for your wealth.

    57:10 Why do you not spend in the cause of
    God, when God possesses all wealth in
    the heavens and the earth?

    70:19 Indeed, human being is created anxious.
    70:20 When adversity touches him he is
    70:21 When good touches him he is stingy.
    70:22 Except for those who are supportive.
    70:23 Who are always maintaining their
    support/contact prayers.
    70:24 Those who set aside part of their wealth.
    70:25 For the seeker and the deprived.

    92:8 As for he who is stingy and holds back.
    92:9 Denies goodness.
    92:10 We will make the difficult path for him.
    92:11 His wealth will not avail him when he

    104:0 In the name of God, the Gracious, the
    104:1 Woe unto every backbiter, slanderer.*
    104:2 Who gathered his wealth and counted it.
    104:3 He thinks that his wealth will make him
    104:4 Never! He will be thrown into the
    104:5 Do you know what the Hutama is?
    104:6 God’s kindled fire.

    42:12 To (God) belongs the possessions of the
    heavens and the earth. He spreads out the
    provision for whomever He wills, and
    He measures it. He is fully aware of all

    16:71 God has preferred some of you over
    others in provision. Those who have
    been preferred will not relinquish their
    provision to those whom they have
    contractual rights, so they may become
    equal in it. Are they denying the favor
    of God?


    1. Jen, These are verses, but why didn’t you mention that they were from the Koran?? Furthermore, why is the term ‘God’ used instead of the correct form ‘Allah’? I will believe Ramsey over the koran… any day!!!!


      1. Just another reason to leave the various mythologies of the world out of the discussion. Put a different name to whatever people call the life energy, and bingo! a dispute, regardless of the information.


  33. The poor are: lazy assed leeched on relatives, government and society who just want you to give them the damn fish; don’t teach me a skill, it would cut my bennies.
    The poor are: good people, in bad times, ill equipped to overcome their situation, who can be helped by their fellow man and will show gratitude and pay it forward.


  34. Budget and Priority. Lots of people who can afford 6 dollar a pack cigarettes spending anywhere between 150 and 200 dollars a month on this habit BUT they can’t afford healthy nutritious foods. I actually save money by eating and cooking healthier meals. So the saying that healthy foods and healthy eating habits is more expensive is simply not true. I have proven it time and time again with my clients.


    1. You realize that tobacco creates a chemical dependency, right? It’s a hard habit to kick. Sure, they’d be better off not acquiring it, but it’s not like people should be punished over a lifetime for a bad decision at age 15 or whatever.


    2. A 3 dollar bag of cookies lasts longer and costs less than a bag of grapes. I don’t disagree about the cigarettes but good food can cost more than cheap food. If you are limited on how you can get to a store, then the cookies will also last longer in the pantry. I am poor and I do not buy cookies. If we have them, we make them ourselves. But I admit, I do not eat as healthy as my kids because I want them to have the nutritional food so I do often go without. We have to remember that not every likes a lot of the food suggested by nutritionists.


      1. For the homeless, nutritional food is a dream. One needs to have a house and a stove with paid up utilities to be able to cook a meal. The ability to have these things in our culture is a blessing, not a right. Poor people eat candy, chips, cereal and pepperoni. All packaged foods that don’t require a stove, water or a plate.Let alone a place out of the weather to eat them.


  35. Does anyone have the courage to suggest that restricting the size of their families would increase the amount of money, food, and time available to all members of the rest of said family? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone should have children, our world is smothering itself in “the right to breed”.

    See: http://vhemt.org/



    1. abortion:

      6:151 Say, “Come let me recite to you what
      your Lord has forbidden for you: that
      you should not set up anything with
      Him; and be kind to your parents; and do
      not kill your children for fear of
      poverty, We provide for you and for
      them; and do not come near lewdness,
      what is plain of it or subtle; and do not
      kill the person which God has forbidden,
      except in justice. That is what He
      enjoined you that you may comprehend.”

      17:31 Do not kill your children out of
      fear of poverty; We shall provide for
      you and them. The killing of them was
      a big mistake.


  36. I am totally shocked by all the comments and ridicule that most of the people here seem to think about how the poor behave…it seems like many of you have put all the poor people into the same bundle. I am poor. I don’t like admitting it and I try not to let anyone know. I was taken away from my parents when I was 7 along with my two brothers and put we were put into 3 different foster homes. I was able to get my HS Diploma I got married young and had 4 children. I was in a really abusive relationship so I left on my own without any money, changed states and started over. I worked 50 hours a week, with the kids in daycare, making 300 a week. I had to pay my rent, daycare, and gas and insurance for the car, electricity, gas and water. We did not have cable. I do not smoke. I did have a little 16 inch box TV so the kids could watch VHS tapes. I had to buy all the kids clothes at the thrift store. I was able to get 167 a month for food, which was a life saver. We did not eat fast food. That 167 paid for 28 dinners a month with some cereal and milk for the kids on weekends. We had plenty of flour and water only biscuits because that is all I could afford. There were weeks I went to work where I did not eat breakfast or lunch. I lost 50 pounds that year and I have never been considered medically overweight. I would get sick with 102 fevers and still go to work, which ended up landing me in the hospital 3 times for a month stay total that year. While working 50 hours a week, I went to school full time. I ended up finishing with a 4.0 and an associates degree. I was able to get a new job and still am considered POOR. And, yes, I did get a WII. But, at Gamestop they let you make monthly payments and I was able to get a used one. So I spent my 10 dollars extra a month and was able to get one. I guess I am a horrible typical poor person!


    1. Your situation is so much like many people I know. We work, we walk, we cook with what others are willing to donate to the food shelf, and we are grateful for that.


    2. AMEN!
      You are my hero! My mother had your life. Now she lives comfortably and happy because her children honor her and provide well for her. May your further be merry and bright!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s