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Do People Choose To Be Poor?

Updated on February 15, 2013

The Video: You Chose To Be Poor

Why Do People Choose To Be Poor?

Just today, I was watching a controversial video on YouTube, created by mohammedabshaun. In this video he makes a convincing argument that people chose to be poor. At first, I reacted aggressively to the video, believing it to be an outrageous philosophy. I didn't comment on it, but I certainly found the video to be judgemental and mean-spirited. I also found it made many conventional assumptions about the poor, mainly that they're irresponsible and envious, however I know from experience that isn't the case.

After a moment of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that mohammedashaun is correct, people actually do chose to be poorer, but for different reasons than what he philosophizes. Their being poorer isn't caused by poor decision making, rather a result of debating from within, "how far must I go?"

Take a moment to ponder the question. How far should a person go to achieve financial success? What should be sacrificed? Should a person sacrifice their personality for wealth? Their values? Their family? Their ethics? Should they toss what they know to be right and wrong out the window for the sake of a dollar? Let's be honest with ourselves; when a person chooses to make more money, simply sacrificing your own time and (perhaps temporarily) your own well being is insufficient. The decision to "make more money" is always an easy choice when it's only you; unfortunately no individual person lives in a vacuum, and there is much more to consider than meets the eye.

I would go on to say that mohammedabshaun is asking the wrong question to get the answers that he seeks. Rather than ask, "Do people chose to be poor?" He should instead ask, "Why do people choose to be poor?"

Going On A Quest; The Decision To Make More Money. . .

If a person decides tomorrow that they want to make money, the first step they'll take - provided they're intelligent - is study the skills, attributes, personas, values, etc. of those who already have money. In our current era, taking this first step is easier than ever thanks to the Internet and the Public Library. The second step our person will take on their quest is to study the means and systems the rich used for becoming rich. The third step, and perhaps this step isn't available to everyone, is to actually "go out there" and talk to the people (or like-minded people) you have studied.

The final step, and arguably the most overlooked step of all, is to ask yourself whether all that you have learned applies to you. Can you see yourself doing what is necessary in order to achieve financial success? Many don't take the time to finish this very last step, mostly because they're afraid of the answers they may discover. Such deep introspection of the human spirit can often prove unpleasant.

This deep introspection can be a humbling experience, as you'll discover not only your strengths, but even more importantly, you'll discover your limits. Here, I carefully crafted the word limits rather than weaknesses, because not all limits are weaknesses. Indeed, knowing your limits can be a virtue of strength. By knowing your limits, you can save time and energy by pursuing obtainable goals; rather than wasting away chasing unobtainable goals. Ideally, an ambitious person always wants to set the bar slightly above what they were capable of yesterday.

Unfortunately, knowing your limits isn't strictly based on human ability (strength) and intellect (mind). There is a third category; and that is your ethics (spirit). Is what you're doing (or planning to do) right or wrong? And no matter what your personal determination to that question; you should also ask yourself just how far you're willing to go. . . Can you go too far?

A Question of Ethics

When you get this far in the journey of self-discovery, as I have, you'll soon understand that the reason people chose to be poorer isn't due to lack of ambition, talent, skills, ability, education, tenacity, values, etc. People chose to be poorer because often choosing to be richer involves having to make many unethical decisions.

Let's take a brutally honest approach to where I'm going with this argument. The richest amongst us are corporate C.E.O's. Celebrities, lawyers, doctors, politicians, small business owners, famous authors, etc. are all paupers by comparison. Now I ask you, what exactly does a corporate C.E.O do?

On the surface, a C.E.O comes across as deserving of his or her wealth. As a devout capitalist will explain; they provide jobs and innovations. However, what isn't asked is how they provided the jobs and innovations? Today; the means to supply the jobs and innovation comes from a mechanism called outsourcing/globalization. Outsourcing is a mechanism that I believe to be unethical, lazy, and barbaric. I realize these are harsh words for many to contemplate; rest assured they will be explained in due time.

My harsh words to describe outsourcing originate from a former friend of mine; who I knew utilized the process heavily for his own personal gains. When I brought up the ethics of outsourcing, he immediately assumed I was speaking from a position of envy, rather than a position of frustration.

I explained to him that I have both the ability and capital to take advantage of outsourcing tomorrow, but cannot in good conscience bring myself to do so. I find no honour in taking advantage of desperate people in a 3rd world country; who don't have the means to properly barter at a fair price.

In addition, I could not in good conscience siphon off slave labour to a 3rd world country when I knew many of my neighbours are suffering trying to find work. Most of my neighbours are intelligent and hardworking people. I see to it to surround myself with such folks. Through no fault of their own; there's nothing they can possibly do to compete with a person who earns two dollars an hour in a completely different economy where the cost of living is much lower.

Finally, I went on to explain that the whole process of outsourcing is lazy and an easy path to riches. It's so easy it feels like stealing candy from a baby (because in many ways that's exactly what it is). Think about it, any fool can turn a profit by utilizing labour for two dollars an hour; and getting that two dollars an hour labour force (often well educated) to do the hard work for you. There's very little difficult labour (both physically and intellectually) to be done on your part; and often the risks involved are negligible when you can hire on a legion of employees at such a cheap price. Does it involve long hours due to time zone differentials? Of course, but you should expect working long hours by running a business anyways. Out of all the paths to wealth outsourcing is by far the easiest (provided you don't have any ethics); it is also by far the laziest. Unfortunately, outsourcing is soon turning into the only path in order to acquire wealth.

My former friend retorted that if I felt so strongly against outsourcing/globalization; that I could always start a business that doesn't utilize outsourcing/globalization. Yes, of course I could start a business without utilizing outsourcing, but it would certainly fail. When your competitors are allowed to get away with murder through the vehicle of globalization, and you’re conscientiously preventing yourself from doing the same, you're deliberately putting yourself at such a disadvantage that's impossible to overcome. When an honest business is asked to compete directly against a dishonest business; the dishonest business will always win. The dishonest business only losses when we have good laws and good politics. Right now, we don't have any meaningful laws (and a lot of useless laws), and bad politics.

I remember the debate with my former friend becoming heated. I remember him firmly stating that I shouldn't complain over the choices I made. He made the "you chose to be poor" argument. I agreed that it's my choice, but at the same time, I explained to him that in a properly functioning system; an ambitious man shouldn't have to choose between ethics and wealth. In a working system; ethics and wealth should go hand in hand. Having to choose between ethics or wealth is actually a false choice. Therefore, it isn't a choice at all.

I would go on to say this is how a political Liberal is born. When many of my Liberal friends lament over the actions of the rich; it's unfortunately misinterpreted by the likes of Conservative ilk as either a case of entitlement, laziness, envy, class warfare, etc. or other such dastardly terms. Frustration can often be misinterpreted as envy. The body language is similar. The truth of the matter is we're frustrated that we can't get rich ourselves by making an honest dollar. I bolded "by making an honest dollar" for emphasis; because it's not that we're incapable of getting rich, indeed I finished the debate with my former friend with the closing statement:

"If you were to remove all my ethical restraints, I could easily become a multi-billionaire tomorrow. Those who are rich today are under the illusion that they have accomplished anything of significance that couldn't easily be done by others."

I will go on to say; that if Conservatives truly desired Liberals to "stop whining and get to work," there is a simple solution. Fight for a system that allows people to make money through honest means; and please stop defending those who made money through dishonest means (via outsourcing).

Is outsourcing unethical?

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Have you made a decision that's legal on paper, yet unethical in your conscience, all for the sake of getting money?

See results

Yes, I Choose To Be Poor. . .

So, in the end, I had to choose to become poorer. Keep in mind, choosing to become poorer doesn't necessarily mean poor. Merely, I'm recognizing there's a limit to how much wealth I can reasonably achieve (in year 2011) because I find outsourcing unethical.

This doesn't mean I've completely given up though. Short term, I strive to make the best use of the money I do have; and I have many articles on this very topic. I'm always trying to find as many opportunities and strategies to make money ethically. Small things that add up here and there; while at the same time staying grounded and carrying no illusion that I can compete with the big guys who show no remorse towards outsourcing. You need this balanced approach in order to keep your sanity. Are there opportunities to make honest money out there? Of course. Will the sum be as large as acquiring money through unethical means? Of course not.

Long term, I continue my battle with the objective of one day creating the environment where I can competitively earn an honest dollar and become truly wealthy. This is a battle that may go beyond the grave, but it's worth it. The way I see it, there are two ways to fight outsourcing:

A) Politics/law (Liberal approach)

B) Invent a piece of technology that will prove outsourcing as unprofitable; and then apply that to your own business model (Libertarian approach).

C) I prefer to use both hands when fighting though, so I have picked option C, to do both.

I realize my aims are too high, it's often wise to start small, and option B is astronomical in scale. However, it's either that, or I start small and play along with globalization/outsourcing. Essentially, giving up all that I've fought for. . . You would think option A would be so much easier, however as the days go by and people become more and more hopeless in their politics; option B looks all the more attractive, promising, and possible by the hour. Still, I love to fight using all the weapons at my disposal. . .

Oh, I'm wandering a bit off topic. . . What was that? You still want to castrate me for choosing to be poor?

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      It sure would be great to actually choose such a thing. If I had a choice I would not work for a Corporation but honorable jobs that actually embrace the principals of humanity are few and far between. The greed of money and the penalties on your soul for taking it can severely limit your opportunities. I could not tell you how many brilliant professionals I have known in the job field who have turned down higher paying positions to save themselves from hypocrisy. I could not tell you how much money and how many lives are made difficult in order to kiss butt to sell oneself for higher position. We live in a very sick World and inequity rules supreme. A fair system would have made us all much richer then the poverty they have created. No amount of charity makes up for the lives of people they have robbed to only get a tax write off and advertising.

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


      "This society has an underlying animus of the very successful and glorifies struggling and being poor."

      You may wish to read my Hub, "Don't Sacrifice Yourself for Me. . ." It addresses the issue of altruism and foolish sacrifices.

      While I'll agree glorifying poverty serves nobody, especially the poor themselves, I'll have to disagree with you that I need "psychological help" because I refuse to embrace outsourcing. Look, let's not kid ourselves, if you want to make serious money you have to outsource (like the article says). In fact, I'm finding it more and more difficult to conceive a competitive business without outsourcing.

      If you find the practice of questionable ethics; your options for wealth are limited. You'll have to accept the fact you won't generate as much money. This doesn't mean you'll necessarily become a poor individual, but your chances of building a huge company are close to zero.

      The truth always rests somewhere in the middle. Yes, people probably shouldn’t bash that millionaire next door, but you would be hard pressed to find an ethical individual running a transnational bank, a global corporation, etc. Not saying there isn’t a few cases of good people running such organizations, but they're few and far between.

      My hope is that the economic collapse and subsequent eroding of globalization will make it possible to be an ethical billionaire in the near future.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To DonDWest: Good afternoon, sir. Enlightening hub; however, I assert my point. This society has an underlying animus of the very successful and glorifies struggling and being poor. I staunchly believe that people are poor because they WANT to and have a MINDSET of poverty consciousness.

      Money is very important in this society. Being affluent is a difference between making your own destiny and being a slave to life circumstances. Money is everything and DOES buy happens despite what the minions and hoi polloi think. Being affluent is nice and anyone who would rather be poor needs a reality check in addition to psychological help.

      The world is a beautiful place but only for those who can afford it! If you CHOOSE to be poor, you will always be on the outside, looking in. That is a sad thing to be. Having money is glorious!

      Both monied and poor people are unethical and corrupt. Society must eliminate negative thinking about affluence. Affluence and wealth are a natural way of life. Either a person is affluent and LIVES or he/she is poor and JUST SURVIVE.

    • QualityContent profile image


      7 years ago

      I would rather be poor than a slave to soul rotting monetary system.


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