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March 07, 2008

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Yeah, I know of many who consider themselves poor and use government assistance and yet always have the latest cell phones and big TV's with cable or Satellite.

The story about the bread and tomatoes gets to the point. If you really want to make a change, sometimes you have to sacrifice those wants of your life and live for what you need until things change.

Yes, you CAN make a change in your life, but there are many who don't want to make the sacrifices to get there. It's all about the choices.

My parents always lived beyond their means ... they never told my sisters who live off family handouts. But, my father did tell me how poor we really were (I guess because I was a 'man') so I always worked, bought my own stuff, and never held out my hand for anything.

That hard work / have-to-do-myself attitude eventually took me from $30k in debt to $7 mill. cash in the bank ... ethically and safely ... all in 7 years. Now, I spend my spare time giving back by showing others how to do the same ...

...and, my sisters? They STILL live off family handouts!

Ah, but did you not hear? Hard work isn't the American way anymore! Most people would much rather spend their extra cash on big-screen TVs rather than investing in their future.

After reading the comments from the other article to which you referred I'm reminded yet again of one of my major frustrations with people and their apparent lack of free will. I agree that it is much more difficult for someone to break out of a cycle of poverty than it is for a "privileged" individual to choose to be poor and make it. There are also mentally ill people who just can't take care of themselves no matter what.

However, for those of you out there who weren't born to a single mother of 15 (who came from a single mother of 15 herself) and haven't been diagnosed with a debilitating mental illness, it's time to take responsibility for your actions.

No one forced you to have children. If you don't have enough money to have kids, do not have them. Already got 'em? For God's sake help them become self sufficient so they don't turn out to be helpless. I worked all through school to pay for it. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Beyond a doubt. Did I major in a "fun" degree that I wanted that wouldn't pay anything after graduation or did I get a computer science degree so I could have a nice life? Bingo.

My point is that there are choices. I don't mean to belittle or dismiss anyone's situation or difficulties. It's hard. No one is telling you any different. But it's also simple. Cut out everything but the bare necessities and you can eventually dig out of any hole. You might have to move. You might have to cancel cable and the Internet. You might have to get rid of your car and take the bus or get something cheaper. It sucks and I'm sorry but it's life and it can be better.

I only say these things because I want to help. It's not a sugar coated kisses and hugs kind of helping though. It's tough love. The same kind of tough love I was given 10 years ago when I was in debt up to my eyeballs with no end in sight. If someone hadn't straightened me out I would still be there.

I know this will hurt some feelings and make me the target of some nasty comments so bring them on. I know then, at least, I'm breaking through a little.

This reminds me of a similar discussion over at The Simple Dollar.
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/02/08/working-smarter-no-matter-your-income-level-or-economic-situation/

"Sorry, financial independence isn't handed to anyone on a silver platter."
Not exactly true. It is handed to some, but not to most.

I definitely agree that hard work can improve almost anyones situation. I also like to remind those of us who had a supportive family(even if not financially), encouragement, some aptitude and ambition to at least recognize how much harder some people will have to work. It isn't black and white.

In my opinion this is because we live in a "lottery" society. People just assume that they don't need to save or invest for their future because the powerball is 400 million.
I agree with Curtis that most people don't want to make sacrifices either time ,energy,money,"stuff" etc.
If people are detrimined and are willing to work hard they will almost always be succesful. Maybe not rich or extemely wealthly, but successful.It amazes me how many people I know that are poor and can't understand why.People making minimum wage don't need $500 cell phones. Another example a family member of mine who is in her 30's and never had a full time job, but refuses to were clothes that are not designer labels. I can guarantee that she also doesn't have $100 to her name at this moment, but nice clothes.

My family was not rich by any means growing up. My Parents started there own business when I was a teen.They worked 12-15 hour days at the start and put there heart and souls into it . For it today they are successful and own a company that generates seven figure revenues. They are not rich yet, but successful.

The thing that peeves me the most is that my wife and I have worked hard to get were we are today and the people who would never make sacrifices in they life think that we must have everything handed to us.

I think Poverty is not an easy cycle to break in my opinion, but who ever said life was easy?

Great stories, thanks for sharing them. We are lucky to live in a country that affords us these opportunities and choices. It's too bad there are so many people pissing away their futures for the latest and greatest "in" thing today.

To SJean, I have a question of clarification. You say ...financial independence..."is handed to some, but not to most." I don't think this is true in any way! How do you intend this comment? Sure, people can be handed an inheritance worth a lot, but this is not independence necessarily - doesn't mean they know how to use and grow their wealth and charity - simply means they have some money. From my limited experiences, these are often some people with very bad money management skills and responsibilty. They didn't work for this money, and often don't respect how it was earned and how they received it.

Having a mindset of determination and "success" in life is extremely important to the outcome of a person's situation. When people can get over their "woe is me" attitude and start working towards their goals (be that keeping food on the table or fully funding their IRA account), they are taking responsibilty for their life and moving forward.

Motivation and determination.

My grandmother came from such poverty...she lived in a culture where (perhaps even still today) they believe in set marriages (betrothal?)...she never gave me the details, but I suspect he was abusive, she was not allowed to have money, she always had to be home, he always had to know where she was if she did go out, etc. In the middle of the night she took her 4-yr old daughter (my mom) and ran away from there. She had no money when she rode away on her bicycle with only a small plastic bag that held her daughter's clothes.

My step-grandfather was a young boy during WWII and had bombs and rubble all around him...he, too, worked very very hard to get out of poverty...

I won't go on with their stories, but suffice it to say that they came from almost nothing and they worked really really hard to get out of poverty. But the point is that they DID IT. Neither of them had a higher education, both of them faced language barriers, neither of them had much money, neither of them asked for public assistance, and she was a single parent. They worked menial jobs - he worked in coal mines and a dairy factory, she was a seamstress in a convent and also a family caretaker. Even now, my grandmother is in her mid-70's and she works 3 jobs...at this point it isn't because she needs the money...but I think she just can't slow down, won't let herself.

Ken was right: poverty is not an easy cycle to break...but it definitely can be done. So many people make too many excuses...the fact of the matter is, in order to make your life better, you have to work at it, and I mean REALLY work at it.

I think what rankled me so badly about the earlier post is that I believe that people are very quick to praise the end of a person's journey, while condemning them each step of the way. The poor, the uneducated, whatever, get judged...but how do we know if they're on year 5 of the 6 year journey to raise their situation? And are we, in our position, making it even harder for them? Even if it's just looking down on them?

I'm not talking about the unmotivated. But I can see in my own community the effects that housing, jobs, daycare, and even basic human courtesy and respect can have for someone trying to improve their lives. And I think that the access to those things is limited, and I think that we forget that when we talk about the poor. People are far quicker to judge than to guide.

I think that hard work is essential, and that we can always improve ourselves. But I think that if we're really concerned about ourselves as a community, then we can't take the attitude that "I got mine -- now you get yours" and that happens too often when discussing the poor or people who are behind us. We look at what we did, but we forget how we got there, and what we needed to get us ahead. It might be as simple as just the positive encouragement from someone taking an interest in our success. Or even more rare: someone who can see the obstacles and help demolish them, not just label those affected as complainers. I'm speaking broadly, not directed personally.

But I agree on this: I think that hard work is critical. I spent a lot of time thinking about the earlier post...and I have to admit that in my own life, I've been slow seeing what opportunities were around me, and that it's stopping me from getting the most out of what I've got at hand. So I actually am taking the challenge...I'm not emptying my pockets to live in a shelter, but for the next 6 months I'm going to make a concerted effort in a few neglected areas. I expect it will advance me, but I'm curious to see how far I can go when I put my mind to it. Maybe I'll blog about it, to keep me honest.

Fortunately, anna, I don't see much of that "I got mine - now you get yours" attitude on display here. Seems like most people here are encouraging & helpful. I'm grateful for that. (Thanks, FMF!)

If you're looking for a rags to riches story for an entire society, check out the Irish economic miracle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_the_Republic_of_Ireland

It's not going to go down well with some people on this site because it required vast government involvement to make it happen, but it's interesting to see something like this happen in our lifetimes and on a large scale.

Suze --

Low taxes. Controlled spending. Foreign investment help to get back on its feet. Sounds ok to me.

I'm in agreement with anna. And also want to say that just because it's possible for some people, doesn't mean that everyone will be able to do it. Luck plays a big part in the lives of all successful people, and it takes more than just hard work.

My father came from a fairly wealthy family. How does this apply to this story? After he graduated from high school, as was family custom, he was on his own. He could stay at my grandmother's house during school vacations, but he was expected to pay tuition and board at college, buy his textbooks and pay for all expenses. He then put himself through law school. Technically, he made it with about the same amount of money as the person in $25 story. I still say that he was far ahead of alot of people because of the way he was raised and the education he received. That is not to say that with enough determination, anyone can't "make it" - I just think that we should recognize that one's background can greatly affect how much determination and hard work is required.

My dad worked hard every day of his life. He quit school at the eighth grade to go to work to help support his brother and sisters. He served two tours in Korea and worked every partime job he could find when he got back.
Over the years he and my stepmon were able to buy and run their own business for several years. Things were looking up for them, until...
My dad had a stroke. Mom developed diabetes and so did Dad. Mom needed a double heart by-pass, Dad had two more strokes. In the end,Mom died of heart failure,after having her own stroke. Dad had a total of two heart attacks and five strokes. They died penniless,with him in a nursing home. Fat lot of good working hard all their lives did for them.

'Round here half a million will get you a 1300 sf 2BR 1BA with a view of the back of someone's garage.

I'm just sayin'.

Hi, what I got out of this is that with hard work and determination, one can improves his/her environment and financial situation. I do think it is hard to have a possitive attitude about your future if your old environment is perceived to be negative and you believe in that perceptions. I am thinking people who grew up in bad neighborhood and without encourangement form their family to dream big, would have a more difficult time getting out of the "rut".

I really admire people who make it on their own without using the family fortune. However, I think these people would have a different mind set form people who actually "had" to make it on their own or break out the cycle of poverty. I think knowing you have a family to help you in case you need it, would make future a little bit less scary. Also growing up in an environment that demonstrated good life is possible would install some confidence in one's fugure.

Regardless, I think most of us agreed people who work hard to make their dreams come true are admirable. With a little luck, the reward could be beyond imagination.


I think that there's a huge issue of health: if you aren't healthy, you may be in serious trouble. The "work hard and pull yourself up by the bootstraps" thing has never been an option for those who are too sick to work regularly. I'm not sure it's possible for those who need to spend massive amounts on health care to maintain decent health--that can really sidetrack savings and investing.

Taking that a little further, if you miss a bunch of preventive medical care as a kid because your family is dirt poor, you will be less likely to be healthy as an adult. (I'm assuming here, but correct me if there's data in the other direction.) So there may be a legitimate correlation between generations of poverty. Even things that seem irrelevant can be a big deal--regular dental hygiene correlates to better cardiovascular health, and they don't know why. If you're too poor to go to the dentist, being meticulous at home just isn't enough for a statistically significant portion of the population.

These discussions are always so frustrating. I really believe that people who have never experienced truly pulling themselves out of the cycle of poverty have no right to judge those facing that same situation (this includes me). We can talk all we want about what people should do, but humans are a social species and we need and use each other to survive, thrive, or suffer.

If there is plenty of opportunity, how do you explain the persistent existence of the working poor?

Where I work we have many hard workers, but nobody is getting rich working hard.

You really just don't get it. The fact that some people are able to work their way out of poverty does not mean that all people can do so. Even if it did it would not mean that the economic system was basically just.

I'm a child of the upper-middle class. I know that even if all I did growing up was wake up every morning and do a half-ass job in high-school and college, I would be pretty much guaranteed a B.A. and a middle-class white collar job. As it is, I work hard, but I've made mistakes too. Thanks to a strong safety net of family and friends who are also of a middle-class background, these mistakes haven't cost me that much. If I was from a poor background growing up in a broken-down school system I would not be so lucky.

So people who pull themselves out of poverty should be admired. They have achieved great things through very hard work. But the fact that they had to display such strength of character and spectacular work ethic just to make it to a middle class lifestyle demonstrates how fundamentally unjust the system is. Nor does their success mean that those who fail to pull themselves out of poverty should be looked down on. A society that requires some of its members to live ascetic, mistake-free lives just to reach the middle rung of that society is not a just society.

And just as a point of logic, the fact that for some people poverty + hard work = middle class does not imply that for all people povery + hard work = middle class.

FMF,

Hey, I come from poverty, and have slowly increased my position to where I am now (upper-middle class), AND I watch the average amount of TV.

@Dan - Hey, stop that. We want to feel that anyone who isn't wealthy is lazy. Otherwise, we'd have to feel shame.

FMF: There are other aspects to the Irish economic miracle beyond your summary, namely enormous investment in our infrastructure by other EU countries, taxpayer-paid third level education, the decline of the churches input in how the country is run, and the fact that so many had emigrated in prior decades leading to an extremely young population. Also, housing prices and cost of living generally at home now make NYC look cheap by comparison. I mention this only to point out that aspects of this would give some Americans conniptions!

Anna @ 3:12pm, you comment is great and written with a lot of heart. There are certainly "I got mine" attitudes running through the comments sections of many money blogs. I appreciate your continued contributions to this debate. Where's your blog?!

@ Dan. Your post gets a big MEH. I came from a lower middle class lifestyle and will make more than both my parents combined in a few years. I did have their support of pushing me to do well. At the same time many many of my friends who were upper-middle class white males did not get anywhere near B.A.s and white collar jobs. Just because you are form there you are by no means guaranteed to succeed. From where I came from its about 50/50, just because you have a safety net and are provided doesn't mean you will succeed. You still have to want it and work for it.

@ minimum wage.
You are a sad weak person. For you I feel no pity, also quit trolling this site please. I actually read the comments just to get to yours for a good laugh.

One of the things that I like about this site other than the quality and range of the posts is this the opinions and intelligence of the readers.Most of the time the comments/debates are more engaging then the actual posts themselves. This can open up peoples minds to different opinions and view points of a subject that they may not have thought about before.
I like that people here usually have a general willingness to help others with questions . I may not agree with everyones opinions on all subjects by I certainly value them.It is nice to see all angles of financial problems.To FMF, I enjoy your sight and think that you do a great job with it. It is also very admirable that you give all proceeds of your work here to charity. If more people were charitable it the world it would certainly be a better place. Keep up the good work.

Being "poor" is usually more a state of mind than a condition of financial independence. I'll share no more about my upbringing except to say my family was very alcoholic and very dysfunctional. I was never cold or hungry but being scared was a pretty natural state in my house growing up.

At some point in your life you have to quit blaming your parents, society, the government and anyone else you feel is responsible for whatever problems you have and get to living. Stop spending so much time navel gazing, trying to figure out why you "feel" the way you do, why life is so unfair to you. Do the things we all know you're supposed to do. Be a good husband (or wife), a good father, a good neighbor and, yes, a good worker. Soon, you'll realize that you've made and are making a decent life for yourself and you "feel" pretty good about it.

When I was 18 years old in 1983 I moved out and survived on $11,700 a year. But I never felt poor. I never asked for help. Did I do without? Sure. But I knew if I worked hard and stayed true to what I believed in I would be successful. Now, I'm making a six-figure income, I've been married for almost 25 years and I've raised three good kids. I wouldn't trade any of it to be rich, not even a screwed up childhood.

Have to say I agree with Dan here. And I'm someone who came from a disadvantaged background and worked her way up to a salary that in most parts of the country (though not in mine!) would qualify me as pretty darned well-off. I was smart, and I also worked (and work) hard, but I was also ridiculously lucky. By pure chance, I ended up with financial support for a very good school--otherwise, even with the substantial scholarship they offered, I could not have been able to afford it, and would have stayed in an appallingly bad public school that you'd never send your kids to in a million years. I was able to parlay that into scholarships in college and graduate school, but it wasn't my virtue that got me started there.

My skin is white, so when I moved out of my home environment, I could "pass" without carrying around the garbage of structural racism. My health is basically good. I didn't find myself having to take care of family members who didn't have other sources of support. I escaped the stupidity of adolescence--from which I was certainly not immune--with relatively few consequences for my dumb mistakes, because (due to attending that good school) I didn't live in a neighborhood where wanting to hang out with your friends and feel safe can lead to a criminal record or death. I never felt, as a young, inexperienced girl, that I had to have sex with a man just to find basic love or economic security, which meant I never ended up with an unwanted child I had to take care of on my own. That's just the tip of the iceberg of my luck.

We work very hard to make that social safety net invisible because it allows us to blame those who fall through the cracks. It makes me sad. I guess I would ask all those people rushing to announce that anyone can make it in this society and those who don't are losers just what they're getting out of it--and for those of you who are Christians and doing the same, whether you're under the impression that Christ has asked you to judge and condemn the poor, or to succour them.

Regarding Dan's comment, particularly: "But the fact that they had to display such strength of character and spectacular work ethic just to make it to a middle class lifestyle demonstrates how fundamentally unjust the system is."

The whole point of these posts is that it does NOT require a spectacular work ethic or all that much strength of character to move up the ladder. A little discipline makes a big difference in life, not just finance.

How unjust is the system again? OMG, I might have to be happy with a middle class lifestyle. boo hoo.

I agree with the post, for the most part. But I also believe that some people out there just won't be able to get ahead no matter how hard they try. Victims of circumstance.

The other people who really would need help to get ahead are the mentally ill, and those who are in charge of their well-being. Mental illness strikes the entire family, not just the individual. The effects just ripple outwards. For that, I wish that diagnosis & treatment for mental illness was far more widespread and not as stigmatized.

Also, I am not religious and certainly not Christian, but I agree with the commenter above (Sarah).

Nature / Nuture.

Some people are smart, work hard, capable of deferred gratification, and have heart trouble or diabetes. Medical care is an expensive tax*, but if you don't pay it, then you tend to get sicker.

Yes, don't have kids if you can't afford them. Can you walk away from a parent in need? Siblings? Yes, if you can't take care of yourself you can't take care of others. If the only way to take care of yourself is to walk away from parents who need 24-hr care, do you? Or do you quit your job and take care of the parent?

And nature doesn't just refer to our abilities. There's also the vagaries of the natural world. One neighbor's basement was seriously flooded this winter. Another neighbor had a tree blow THROUGH his roof last winter and land IN HIS BED. Fortunately both neighbors are safe and unharmed, but their houses aren't, and insurance often doesn't cover these "acts of God". Can you say, serious financial setback?

Although both houses are still standing. Much better than large portions of New Orleans.

Yes, I believe people can improve their lot. But there's a lot that's left to chance and genetics.

Oops. Meant to add a note that by "tax" I meant tax in the metaphorical sense, not a specific tax issued by a government.

I don't mean to be dogmatic, but I just wanted to offer some reminders:

3 billion people on the planet live under $2 a day (grinding poverty)
including 1 billion living under $1 a day (verge of starvation)
and every day 30,000 children die from starvation and preventable diseases

There's poor and then there's poor.

As an inner-city teacher, my wife sees kids every day who have little chance of getting ahead, most of them the children of illegal immigrants. Some are orphans who came to the US alone because their families were wiped out by war in their home country.

Even the ones who are motivated to succeed can't go to college--they can't get a social security number. Many of them bust their behinds working 8+ hours and then fall asleep of sheer exhaustion in class...but being a busboy under the table just doesn't have the same potential.

Everybody can improve their circumstances to some degree, no doubt--but the ceiling is a lot lower for some people than it is for others. I think it's important to remember that just because person X didn't get as far financially as person Y doesn't automatically mean he was lazy.

Growing up my mother supported me and her disabled parents on a seamstress's salary of about $98/week. No government assistance. It was her skills in budgeting that allowed us to eat, have clothes, utilities, and a car that was dependable (but not always pretty). Times were tough for sure. I made the decision to stay in this and go to college. My mother also promoted that to me ...pretty much from birth. I was able to take advantage of welfare in the form of grants which paid all but $2000 of my college tuition. While I went to school, I had full time jobs and not a lot of time to be carefree like most of my peers and I didn't go to out of state or private institution nor did I have the money to live on campus. I don't have any regrets though. I came out with my bachelors in biochemistry and paid the $2000 before the 6 months expired on interest free loan. During this time, I worked at walmart. They were offering to give me $1 for every $10 that I invested in stock. So, even barely making ends meet, I did it. I started out investing $10/2 week pay period. Then I was able to double it to $20/every 2 weeks. That doesn't sound like much but I was buying wal-mart before Sam Walton died. It has been good over the years! This was my first step into investing. I also saved 10% of my check for down payment on my first new car.

After graduating from college, I got my first real job about 9 months later. Immediately, I took advantage of the 401K plan and immediately before I got my first check, I signed myself up for 15% contribution (back then, that was as much as we were allow to contribute). I lost that job, rolled the money into IRA. Got next job, did the same thing but this time I was contributing 18%. These days I am contributing 15%. I started investing at age 18....I am now 37. I am way ahead of my peers who make double my salary. My home, although humble, is paid in full as well as my car. Yep bought the car new 10 years ago and plan to drive it another 2-4 years. Most of my clothes still come from thrift stores (it was all we could afford when I was growing up so it is something I am accustomed to). I should be a millionare by the time I am 46 maybe before then if the market does well then again ....I may have to wait a little longer if the market stays in a funk for many years.

This was my story of how I got out of SEVERE poverty. I didn't want to continue to struggle like my mother. She has done much better with her life too as her parents passed on and she remarried not to mention, I have been independent since 18. With her budgeting skills, she has a good life too. Two things though, 1. I never needed many things that indicate status to be happy (never had to keep up with the Joneses so to say) and 2. Growing up poor, I know the value of delayed gratification and having the money to purchase something before you buy (that was always one of mom's budgeting rules ...you had to have the money before you buy something).

In the OP, first red story--a story of hard work from poverty to prosperity--the person ends with, "I guess they were just lucky in the lottery of life."

Man, that's some sour grapes, shooting down the earned achievement like that! Never attribute to luck what is not due to luck. It seriously undermines the talents and achievements and hard work of the person being admired.

Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. You won't get lucky sitting around on welfare in the trailer park on yer butt watching TV. You gotta get out there and do something. And no, your first job isn't going to be six figures. You take it one step at a time and work your way up. So go get started! Put as much energy into your education and career as you do in beating the system to keep your check and get your benefits...and you'll be a success.

Great site, interesting comments. Minor bone to pick with Cara - not sure what a "fun" degree is, but not working towards a degree in a field with high demand an above average entrance salary doesn't necessarily mean those people are lazy or unconcerned with being financially well off. Money's important, but for a lot of people it's not the most important thing to be working towards.

@kentuckyliz:
I understood the "lucky" quote to be an ironic jab at those who would consider his in-laws to be "lucky," whereas they'd worked really hard to achieve their current prosperity. In other words, he was mocking the people shooting down the achievement -- not shooting down the achievement himself.

You guys seem pretty judgemental...well atleast a lot of you do. I am always curious about the ages of people who "worked" their way through college, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago and today is very different insofar as working your way through college. I have an uncle with this attitude...and I think he needs to realise that yes 30 years ago you could fairly easily work your way through college....now with tuition and living costs so high it is pretty difficult to do that.

I did grow up poor and was orphaned early on. I got through college with a lot of hardwork (both academically and by working various jobs) along with finding many scholarships, internships, summer training programs, grants, and loans. The problem is nearly every program I used (some of which helped me a lot) has been closed due to federal/state/university budget cuts....and I just graduated college 3 years ago.) So it is hard for me to judge foster youths behind me...even if we come from the same situation. Each decade has their difficulties...their opportunities....and I think I got charisma to have landed some of the bigger scholarships I got.

We are not teaching safe sex in schools, george bush won't allow it and our rate of teenage pregnancy is going up dramatically. Some people blame the media but teenagers still need to know which condoms prevent pregnancy, being given a few samples won't hurt either. We're getting a baby boom during an economic depression...and it is with our teenagers. I don't blame the teenagers nor do I blame poor people with limited access to medical care and contraceptives.

Lastly just because your uncle, grandparents or parents grew up poor and changed their lives does not mean that begger sally could do the same. The economic climat is so different now and each city/state/country has different opportunities. Why not offer microloans here. Why not offer tax deductable scholarships to the poor. We need it now...and it is a better use of your time than talking badly about your sterotypes of poor people without ambition and work ethic.

The world has millions of problems. Rather than creating a website telling people about how much money these lucky fools make, why not create a website (seeing as how you are anything but lazy) that actually helps people. There is such a thing as dumb luck and I know that there are people like myself that bust their butts to get ahead and still end up no-where. I am a broke college student. I may be working to get ahead now, but as of the moment I have nothing. What about those people. People who want to better themselves and have no family or friends with money to help them get anywhere in the mean time. I have to pay for my own education and take care of my kid, and all on my own. Stereotype all you want. The grass is always greener on the other side.

I would like to say that I have not been a fan of the middle class, what I would consider to be rich compared to me. Iwould like to thank Dan for being so good hearted and say hey, he gets it! Thank you again Dan.
To the people who also get it, I thank you.
As for the others whom of which many are mean spirited, shame on you. I hope you live in a hopeless prison of a life and you have to try to break out. There are many circumstances that keep people down.
Maybe, people should get help so that they have money to live comfortably enough, so they can actually use their natural talents; artistic, journalistic or whatever to be able to make a living of their own.
As people we have the resources and the responsibility to drastically change life for the better for each other, animals,the planet and, well you get the point. Why don't people try that out.
remember also, it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor at this stage of the game, it matters wether you are in favor of whats good. If people willingly work together on important issues than maybe life can turn out to be good, the way it should be.

I have something to say about success.
Many people try to make it and fail repeatedly, mainly because they do not have the money and knowlege of how to make their idea soar!

Anecdotal evidence always breeds these types of "conversations." For every example someone can find to support their viewpoint, I can match it with one from an opposing viewpoint. At the end of the day, it is basically worthless drivel unless one becomes inspired by said example.

However, those people who actually do have opportunity and spurn it only make it worse for those who actually need assistance. I'm proud of the fact that I have worked hard to get where I am. I am in no need of assistance from family, friends, or Social Security for that matter (not that it will be there anyway: Oh, and it would be just giving me my money back, but that's a different discussion). I can't say as much for many members of my family, who I have repeatedly tried to help in the past by educating them on how to help themselves as well. They choose to continue to make many poor decisions, which could just look like bad luck to some people.

So, many people just make it harder for others by doing nothing and just getting assistance. The point, I think, of the OP was that many folks can help themselves but choose not to. There is no "just" system, and if you think some sort of communist or socialist agenda will fix that, you really need to look into the political and economic tenants of those paradigms before getting on an ideological rant regarding how broken our somewhat-capitalistic system is. Make sure you are actually well educated on the topic, because I have yet to find a single situation in which that side of the argument has actually won a debate, or succeeded in providing a better life for ALL or even MORE of the citizens involved.

@JulieP Jen

I know you posted months ago, and probably won't read this since it has been so long, but I don't think anyone is stereotyping anyone. I guess I could direct this to @td as well. Being a poor college student is par for the course. That is called sacrifice. I did the same thing, although I did not have a child at the time. However, I assumed the loans; I signed my work-study checks over to the college cashier every month to put toward my tuition, room and board; and I had basically no money to do anything else. I went to a small, private college that cost a ton to go to, but applied for grants and scholarships every year to help me make it possible to gain my education. To those people who helped fund my education (all private, by the way: No assistance from the government), I am eternally grateful. And in return, I contribute to the same funds that helped me get through school.

However, feeling sorry for yourself and blaming a nebulous "system" isn't going to solve your problems. Rather than being angry, you should be proud of the sacrifices you are making for a great investment: Yourself. Hell, I'm proud of you and I don't even know you. Angry contribution to this conversation aside, you are exactly the kind of person who will do well. It doesn't happen immediately, and it may take longer than you anticipated, but tenacity will get you through it.

I'm not sure what kind of site the OP would create to "actually help people," but I'm pretty sure that most people who want to help themselves will find many people who, like me, are grateful for the assistance they received and are happy to give back.

i cant read to good this is why i cant get a job to make the tap of money to live off when you dump and poor it hard

So how do you get a helping hand when you really need it. I work two jobs and support my three kids with no help from an abusive husband. DCAFS came in and took my kids from me till I could get a new place of my own without my husband. I make enough to pay may bills but I don't have a bunch of money lying around for new deposits and everything else. There is no room to live with my parents and that would cost me even more money that I don't have to move twice. I make to much money to quailify for assistance so how do I work harder to get out of this mess and get my kids back? I am not afaid to sacrafice but when I have already given averything I have and still have nothing then what?

my name is steven.i am from karnataka i am studying in diploma.we have a prayer team but we have financial problem in team as well as in my home.can you help us pleasa in name of god i request you amen thank you.

I am a mom and grandma and live on fix incom and Iam person who like to help, special disable people who need to get around some are my friends. Iam a sculpture and love what Iam doing, working w/medium clay mache /resin rubber molding plaster makeing doll plaques and diffrent crafts, my dream to have a business to start workshop of my own and to help others like handicap and retirement people who is looking for that extra incom to make end meet I know how it feel to have nothing to get by. I want to have that opportunity to express my self to others that we can work and support us through, I have no space in need bigger ariea and supplys and tables chairs shelfs I need help to get started

This is a bullsh!t piece. There are millions of people who do their best everyday to make ends meet, but simply cannot get ahead. There are people in this country with graduate degrees who are making $13.00 - $14.00 an hour.

Of course, there will always be those who are "slackers" and wish to buck the system, yet that simply doesn't apply to everyone who is poor. Common sense should dictate that.

If you are one of the truly BLESSED, who are fortunate enough to make it, then consider yourself BLESSED indeed and not look down on others.

What you have right now, could be gone in 10 seconds.

Believe that!!!

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