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Poverty: Let's Give the Poor a Break

Updated on February 28, 2018
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU in 1964. Worked in NYC for 2 years in public relations then as reporter and editor before retiring from The Hour newspaper.

As Union College student Chris Brown and Sandya Sainvil ring bells for the Salvation Army kettle drive in 014 Al Williams drops a few dollars in while shopping Wal-Mart in Glenville on a Monday afternoon.
As Union College student Chris Brown and Sandya Sainvil ring bells for the Salvation Army kettle drive in 014 Al Williams drops a few dollars in while shopping Wal-Mart in Glenville on a Monday afternoon. | Source

Al Capone Offers Free Coffee, donuts at Big Al's -- 1930

Famous Depression Era Photo

Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936
Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936 | Source

Poor people are always getting short-changed.

But, if you listen to the rantings of the wealthy and the so-called middle class, you'd never believe it!

The rich and middle class are always blaming everything on the poor -- and they get away with it because poor people have no one to speak in their behalf; they have no lobby, no money for advertising campaigns, no newspapers or magazines to take their point of view, no influence with politicians.

Put the Blame on . . . the Poor?

Worse, there's little or no reason for the economically privileged to want to associate with poor people! The wealthy see them as ne'er-do-wells who could be just as rich as they are if they weren't so lazy and shiftless; the middle class -- which prefers to distance itself from the poor while vicariously rubbing elbows with the country-club set -- like to keep the poor at arms length, always crying that the poor live a life of ease on welfare and other social programs while they are forced to pay the bills.

It's bad enough that the poor are the constant target of the most powerful in our society (the combination of the rich and middle class is a formidable foe, indeed), but the worst cut of all is that the poor are least equipped to defend themselves.

You don't need an extensive sociological study by a prestigious university to know that most poor people emanate from, you guessed it, poor people! It's easy to deduce that the children of poor people, with few exceptions, are likely to be poor. And being poor means you're lucky if you graduate from high school much less from a great university.

Poor People Are Very Generous

One of the things I like best about poor people runs to the heart of why they are, and remain, poor; they are very generous! By definition poor people don't have a lot of money; but, if you ever need a half dollar for a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup, I suggest that you ask someone who is poor.

A poor man will give you his last dollar, gladly, if he possibly can -- and, often, even if he can't; a middle class man will more likely tell you to go ask the Salvation Army; a rich man will tend to rationalize and, more often than not, tell you how he had to struggle to get his money and then advise you to go get a job!

No holier-than-thou Advice

A poor man will give you no lecture, nor any holier-than-thou advice; he won't even ask you how much money you make or how much you have in the bank. No, a poor man won't look for excuses, won't rationalize to find a way to say no; chances are he'll give you that dollar, even if it is his last.

Maybe we should pass a law that's designed to teach poor people how not to be poor, how to become middle class, even wealthy. Maybe we should bring into the schools some of society's most successful and wealthy people to teach poor people how to make, and hold onto, every penny they get.

It shouldn't be too difficult to show the poor how foolish it is to give away one's money to someone in need, unless of course one gets a generous tax cut; that generosity is for fools; that one has to be hard-nosed if one wants to get what's coming to him in this world; that we can't be expected to be our brothers' keeper.

Personally, I hope -- and expect -- that the poor will never change.

Said Letitia Elizabeth Landon, 1802-1838: "Few, save the poor, feel for the poor."

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on May 28, 1994. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.

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    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I appreciate your comments, and your views, wesleyacarter. Winston Churchill said it best:

      "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."

      "He doesn't really defend the virtues of democracy as a system of government, but rather takes a pragmatic approach - it's not exactly great as a form of government, but it's the best of a bad bunch. If something better comes along, perhaps we will move to that. But are there better systems of government? Is something being developed that will remove the flaws of democracy?" -- From saidwhat.com

    • wesleyacarter profile image

      wesleyacarter 

      8 years ago

      i don't think poverty is a conduit for generosity.

      I think democracy is a farce. it is the idea of the many leading the many, which is an impossibility. the many will only lead themselves individually, until they are led by the few. the many break down into a thousands few(s). that creates chaos.

      I think that democracy will unveil its true colors when the common man forsakes the idea that money is the only way to power.

      The power of the many can not sustain itself on the same source of power as the few.

      capitalism and democracy can not possibly exist together without human sacrifice. this country proves that. and if you still don't believe it, take a look at India.

      wealth and the destruction of the poor is a matter of evolution. any wealthy person will tell you this.

      when the poor choose to evolve passed wealth and commerce. only then will the poor no longer be poor.

      this moment will be the first true calling of democracy.

      that sounds a little like socialism.

      I simply hate words, they trifle, confuse and limit.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for the Biblical verses, SirDent, and for the kind remarks. I wish more people would read them -- and pay heed to them. Here's another:

      1 Timothy 6:9-10 — “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

    • profile image

      SirDent 

      9 years ago

      This is a very werll written article. I appreciate your standing up for the poor. it seems everyone talks about being united in the world, but we tend to forget those who are less fortunate although they are more generous as you stated.

      Mat 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

      Mar 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

      Mar 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

      Mar 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

      Luk 14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

      Thank you for an eye opening hub.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for commenting, GaryLeeVilleneuve. According to the Website below, it's one of many photos taken by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965, for the U.S. Farm Security Administration before WW II while investigating living conditions of families hired to work the cotton fields in Arizona and California:

      http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/lange/ind...

    • GaryLeeVilleneuve profile image

      GaryLeeVilleneuve 

      9 years ago from Cheyenne

      We live in a system which rewards self-interest and the rejection of the humane instincts within us. That system is a global one, at this point, and the conditions of the world reflect its mentality almost exactly. I appreciate what you've said here, and thanks for saying it.

      P.S. Is that first picture one of James Agee's original photographs from the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men?

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm glad you found your way here, froggy15, and I hope to read more of your thoughts on this subject and others. I think there may be a few of my already published hubs that you might find interesting. Thanks for visiting, and welcome to HubPages.

    • froggy15 profile image

      froggy15 

      9 years ago from Caro, Michigan

      Thanks William, well said my friend. I stumble into hubpages just yesterday thinking it may be a way to express some thoughts. I am beginning to see the potential for that and so much more. My first, clueless, toe in the water, one paragraph hub linked me to you and your article. Thankfully so,,,,,I'll be back

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, folks. I wish I could do more than simply write about the plight of the poor. Ralph, if Ayn Rand were still around she sure wouldn't be one of my fans, either.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I can see you're not an Ayn Rand fan, William. Your sentiments are noble.

    • Brandy Owens profile image

      Brandy Owens 

      10 years ago from Wherever life takes me

      I agree completely. Thank you for writing this.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      I like this hub .

      Do some more

    • lovemeanddie1988 profile image

      lovemeanddie1988 

      10 years ago from waynesville

      hey thanks for becoming my friend

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, again, Ralph. I'm making slow progress, but I know I'll never catch up with all the experts on hubpages.

      I appreciate your kind remarks, compu-smart. One thing I learned a long time ago, especially while working at the newspaper, is that people's talents run in different directions. You have talents that I'll never match. What's important, I think, is that each of us make the best of whatever God-given talent we have.

      Bob, I know where you're coming from.

    • profile image

      Bob 

      10 years ago

      Bill.........Nice editorial. I guess I fall into that middle class group and I know you know my feelings on the subject.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      Another great article which tells it how it is.. I fully agree with everything you say and if i had a platform to speak about topics and could tell it as good as you I would be talking about most of the issues you write about..

      Another reality bite. and also, in Ralphs words "sprucing up your essays"

      Thumbs up as always;)

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Creating multi-media hubs will get easier for you over time. I'm a tech idiot, but I've managed to learn to create hubs with quite a few bells and whistles in minutes. The stuff you can find on YouTube and with Google searches is amazing.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, Zsuzsy. And thank you Ralph -- I've only been able to add photos and videos because other hubbers have been so helpful. I'm making a little progress on understanding all this computer stuff, but I'm still lost when it comes to computer jargon.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I see you are sprucing up your essays with photographs and videos. The art of the "mashup" has been made quite easy by Hubpages, Google and YouTube. The Walker Evans photograph is one of the most arresting of all time.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Great HUB

      regards Zsuzsy

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