General Question

niki's avatar

Will poor people always be poor and have less opportunities than rich people?

Asked by niki (699 points ) December 14th, 2011

For example, too often in our current capitalistic and/or monetary system, the poor people often have some brilliant ideas but unfortunately they don’t have the money to realize or bring out their ideas into reality.
And even their job or business opportunities also diminish greatly when compared to the rich people (or the born wealthy).

Do you agree?
Is this necessarily unfair?
If yes, then how can we solve this issue?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

43 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

One could make the argument that poor people have far MORE opportunities to succeed. They start so much further down the economic ladder that they can take advantage of all sorts of paths to success on the way up. Richer people have already passed some of the opportunities, and so the number open to them is somewhat smaller.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it is logical.

comity's avatar

Poor People? There’s so much more to each person then being poor. One who comes from a supportive family, one who’s creative, one who has a good IQ, one who is healthy both physically and mentally,etc All of those attributes can help to raise you out of poverty. Is it fair that we’re all not as intelligent, creative, healthy? No! But, then those are the people who need help. To ignore them and let them live without food, clothing and the basic necessities is cruel to me.

laureth's avatar

@elbanditoroso – It’s not as logical as you might think. You have to be very, very poor to access most “benefits of being poor,” and even then, you might just get enough to eat and little more. Meanwhile, if you’re rich, you don’t need to beg so much for help – just dip into the treasury a bit and throw some cash at your idea. Or use your cronies. (Isn’t that what cronies are for?)

@comity – I think some folks are poor because they don’t have those things – a supportive family (not even one who will give them a bag of groceries), not terribly healthy (because to eat good food and see a doctor, both cost money), and by definition, half of people are of below-average intelligence (although that doesn’t necessarily make them poor – there are plenty of smart poor people.)

Is this necessarily unfair? It depends on your perspective.

One perspective, that I generally hear from the well-off, is that “we guarantee equal opportunity, not equal results.” meaning that Johnny in the Ghetto, and Warren Buffett’s son have exactly the same opportunities, and if Johnny doesn’t “make it,” it’s his own fault for not working hard enough.

Another perspective sees that Johnny doesn’t have nearly the same opportunities as Warren’s kid, and that we’d all benefit by some sort of public funding of really great ideas, or at least from allowing Johnny to be able to worry less about where his next meal is coming from, in order to be able to dream about something bigger.

But I think the prevalent American perspective is, “Who the heck cares? I got mine and I don’t wanna have to give any of it up. It’s not my problem,” sometimes cleverly disguised as “Hey, I’m struggling too, bucko. Get a job.”

bkcunningham's avatar

@laureth, I think you and I would be friends in real life. You are a thinker, very bright, funny and you seem very kind. I don’t want to start my beautiful day by disputing something my potential friend has said….but (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)....when you say,

“But I think the prevalent American perspective is, ‘Who the heck cares? I got mine and I don’t wanna have to give any of it up. It’s not my problem,’ sometimes cleverly disguised as ‘Hey, I’m struggling too, bucko. Get a job,’ ” I know you haven’t considered that “Americans individuals, corporations and foundations” gave an estimated $290.89 billion in 2010 in charitable contributions. That’s just the amounts that were counted and not those that people give without taking as a tax break.

http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/news/2011/06/pr-GUSA.aspx

janbb's avatar

Occupy Wall Street! We are in a time when the disparity between the richest and the poorest and the opportunities for advancement are greater than they have been since early in the 20th century.

marinelife's avatar

Poor people do not necessarily have to stay poor, although they do get fewer opportunities than the middle class or the wealthy.

laureth's avatar

@bkcunningham – So in 2010, “Americans individuals, corporations and foundations” gave a touch over 2% of 2010 GDP in charitable contributions? Boy, the cup overfloweth, doesn’t it?

And even then, according to your article, the biggest recipient of that largesse was religion. (People give a lot to their churches, which do have some “help the poor” niceness going on, but it also helps pay church expenses, and I tend to believe they do more to help people of like-faith than just anyone.) Second biggest recipient was “education,” which could easily mean alumni donating to Harvard and Yale.

Who are the biggest charities in the U.S.? Forbes tells us. Did you realize that the American Enterprise Institute is a charity?

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve had (and still do) a couple of great invention ideas. I even built some prototypes myself that worked. Unfortunately, unless you have a decent amount of cash it is difficult to get your idea out there without somebody trying to rip you off. Most ‘inventors’ today do not have the ability to build their own products and pay other people to do their work for them. Also, if one comes from an upper middle class or wealthy family than obviously it will be easier for them to attend college or get a good paying job.

bkcunningham's avatar

So, I suppose that means you still think the prevalent American perspective is, “Who the heck cares? I got mine and I don’t wanna have to give any of it up. It’s not my problem,” sometimes cleverly disguised as “Hey, I’m struggling too, bucko. Get a job.”

lizardking's avatar

This is really a deep question.
It could go political, personal etc. I think I am getting where you are coming from though.
I do believe better opportunities are handed out to the chosen, and the people we look for help from are pulling the life raft from us to give to a person in a yaught that may need it later. We are 250 years back in time to where we began and we the people have the right to change the system but don’t. Myself I have been watching the movements around the country including the ” NO INCUMBENT ”. Put people that know what it’s like to be hungry and who had to decide medicine or food into office. I think as long as we have these children running our country that things will ever change. Would be nice to have those people wake up one day and not have their jobs and have to pay their share of taxes.

JLeslie's avatar

The poor definitely have it harder. The climb up is a hard climb. They have many things working against them. Sometimes their schools are not equivalent to schools in better neighborhoods, many times they come from single parent situations (I do not mean divorce, I mean the dad was never around, or barely). They also might not have parents who can guide them well, simply because the parents world view is limited by their own poverty. Their families might speak badly of the rich, and that causes conflict for children, doing well means becoming one of “them.” Poor children in American urban areas all to often grow up in unsafe environments, which has a profound affect in my opinion. Some of the cultural norms of the poor hold them back. Having babies at a young age is one of the biggest in my opinion. I don’t know the stats for that, it is probably much less than half who have babies as teens, no idea, but it is a big enough number that I think that it is a concern.

America is still a place where the poor have opportunity, they are not destined to be poor free education through grade 12 if they take advantage of it, and some cities and states still have very reasonable tuition for colleges, some don’t.

The division between rich and poor in America, as @janbb pointed out, is scary. It will mean more people stay poor, and the middle class children of today have a good chance of being downwardoy mobile rather than upwardly.

wundayatta's avatar

The simple answer to your question, unfortunately, is yes. On average, the gap between rich and poor will always widen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the poor are going backwards, although at the moment that is the case. It means that the more of an advantage you have, the faster you will capitalize on that advantage.

There is a principle here and I suspect it’s something Malcolm Gladwell wrote about. I read an article in the New Yorker a couple of years ago about the quality of health care institutions. It seems that you can find best practices in health care, and spread them out to the places that don’t use them yet, but by the time they do use these practices, the places they learned them from are twice as far ahead due to their own constant process of innovation. Once you’re behind, you can never catch up, is the implication I got.

Ideas are not enough. You need resources, too. You need both physical and intellectual resources. You need the knowledge of how to work the system and that’s not something you can learn without exposure to it. If you’re exposed to government assistance all your life, you don’t get exposure to the entrepreneurial system. You’re two steps behind, already.

Some people do make the leap out of poverty into the middle class, or even up into the ranks of the wealthy, but they are very few. Far more go the other way.

I don’t think it helps to describe something as unfair or not. The issue of concern is does this hurt us and who does it hurt? Does it only hurt the people involved, or does it hurt all of us? How does it hurt?

I think it hurts us all because we lose good ideas—ideas that would benefit all of us. I think that a smart venture capitalist would start digging for ideas in out of the way places, and would then provide support for those ideas with a staff that can make them real. I think that the people with those ideas will almost inevitably feel ripped off because they don’t realize that the idea is only the very smallest part of it. Creating an organization to implement that idea is far more significant than the idea man thinks.

That’s a tension that will always be there, and it will exacerbate the rift between those with organizational experience and those with dreams. Education will help, but it will always be too little, too late.

CaptainHarley's avatar

In my life I have been both financially secure and poor. All things considered, I’d rather be financially well off! : )

Every society has skills or attributes it values and thus rewards. In modern America, the skills it rewards are largely those having a degree of scarcity. The attributes vary with career and social class: long hours and hard work are often valued in many blue-collar jobs and lower white-collar jobs. In the higher levels of finance and industry, a certain aloofness and even coldness are valued, an ability to divorce one’s emotions from the decision-making process.

If you have skills and attributes which are highly valued at the level in which you operate, you will tend to rise to the ceiling for that level. For example, I was always able to rise to the top of what is called “middle management,” but couldn’t divorce my compassion and other emotions from my work in order to enter the next layer of management.

Linda_Owl's avatar

The poor/disadvantaged definitely have less opportunity & a much longer ladder to climb to escape the trap of being poor. Currently the cards are stacked against them in today’s world. They can see where they want to be, but generally society ( & increasingly the government ) denies them the tools to get there.

comity's avatar

@Paradox25 One of my sons is a Patent Attorney, the other is a supervisor in the Patent Office. Find yourself a good Patent Attorney in the DC area and if they feel its a good idea they will do the work for you, file, (which costs them) and all the other work for a percentage of what you make when your invention takes off. Make sure you find one that charges a fair percentage.

@Linda_Owl I like to help people but I wonder if we act like the cards are stacked against them, that they have less opportunity? If that’s the case, the feeling might be “why should I bother trying?” Let’s help by demanding better schools, starting when they’re very young, and teach them how to work for success. Many of their parents have given up in the poorer neighborhoods, but their teachers can help lift them. IMHO, They should be taught that there is hope and that there are possibilities for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB04CFXMpHc

plethora's avatar

Yes, poor people will always have less opportunity than rich people, but they might not necessarily always be poor, and might thereby increase their opportunities. I particularly think of more than one Vietnam refugee stories I have read in which a family lands here with absolutely nothing, not even clothes on their backs. And yet they take their nothing and start with nothing but scraps, and in ten years they are succeeding quite well in some business…even without knowing the English language.

And, just between you and me, I really kind of resent the “poor us” attitude that your question projects And even their job or business opportunities also diminish greatly when compared to the rich people (or the born wealthy).

SmashTheState's avatar

The poor will only be poor unless and until they decide to stop being victims. Don’t worry, it’s coming. The chickens are coming home to roost, and Wall Street is hunkered down behind their pet piggies. The time to stop asking for our share and start taking it is almost upon us.

JLeslie's avatar

I think one thing some poor people don’t understand is middle class and rich kids work very hard to maintain the same incomes as their parents. The extremely wealthy might inherit businesses and tons of wealth, but the average upper middle class person making over $100k worked very hard in school and very hard in their careers. Poor children who work hard at their studies and focus can get out of poverty too.

plethora's avatar

@SmashTheState Oh, take instead of earn? What a novel thought.

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie You are so right.

SmashTheState's avatar

@plethora “No one can earn a million dollars honestly.”William Jennings Bryan

You have made the mistake of thinking that I am some kind of liberal. I’m not. I have no interest in “playing fair.” The rich, their pet politicians, and their guard cops just love poor people who play fair. The rich are like rapists who fuck you in the ass and then act like the aggrieved victims when you dare to complain. So no, we will not play by the rules which made us poor to begin with, in the off chance that some scraps might fall from the table of the rich. We will rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number and take what has been stolen from us.

comity's avatar

I’m too old to understand, and I tend to be liberal in my attitude. Please explain to this old gal what has been stolen from you and how it happened? I’m rather slow on the draw.

plethora's avatar

@SmashTheState Right out of the 1960–70’s. Better luck this time.

comity's avatar

@SmashTheState That’s something by Karl Marx -Not from the USA and difficult for me to follow. Please explain to me in your own words what happened to you in this country by others that’s causing you to feel something was stolen from you..

YARNLADY's avatar

In the overall scheme of things, as long as people are taught the they must get ahead or fall behind there will be a division between haves and have nots. In the U. S. no one needs to be stuck in either category, but can move between, given the motivation.

Until there is a complete shift in social development it will remain thus.

bkcunningham's avatar

I would like to know the answer to that question too, @comity.

laureth's avatar

This is a pretty relevant article.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Of course something was stolen from the intelligent poor, but it was stolen almost with their permission. Most of those who are poor AND relatively intelligent refuse, in some aspect of their behavior, to “knuckle-under” and adhere to the standards of those who run the show. Because they refuse to conform, they generally wind up in marginal occupations, which traditionally pay less. Submit to the prevailing mileu or suffer the consequences.

comity's avatar

@CaptainHarley I was one of the intelligent poor after my exhusband walked out leaving me to care for three children ages 7, 9, and 11 and I had to figure out how to earn a living and support them after being an at home mom for many years. I did! And everything worked out OK. With respect Captain Harley, none of what I did had anything to do with adhering to the standards of those who run the show or refusing to conform??

CaptainHarley's avatar

@comity

You are one of the lucy ones then. In my experience, that’s not usually the way it happens.Kudos to you! : ))

SmashTheState's avatar

@comity Translation: “I got mine.”

bkcunningham's avatar

So what was stolen, @SmashTheState? I realize it may be partly philosophical, but what philosophically was stolen? Educate me, please.

JLeslie's avatar

@comity I’m curious, what did you do in your career? What field of work?

comity's avatar

@JLeslie Many things! When my husband first left I had to figure out what to do. With a background in social services I thought, why not have a play group in my home for 2 year olds. At that time there was just Nursery School for 3 year olds and above. I came from a more comfortable neighborhood where people would play tennis, golf, etc. So I started a play group for two year olds, with a morning session and afternoon session that ended at 2:30 PM in time to be available for my children, charged by the month, school closings, etc. I was in amateur theater so there was a lot of acting out stories, puppetry, songs, etc. I also ran what I titled, HUG workshops, Help, Understanding and Guidance for people who work with young children. Nannies in the area met to discuss their problems, meet, etc. When my children went off to college, I worked in Manhattan as the DVS and ran the volunteer department for an organization that works with Blind, Visually Impaired and Multi Handicapped Children and adults.

plethora's avatar

@SmashTheState Educate me too please. Exactly what has been stolen by the state or society from you personally?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@comity

More kudos to you, Comity! Life handed you leamons and you made leamonade! : ))

comity's avatar

@CaptainHarley Thank you! I’m a survivor like you, although the war I was in at the time wasn’t as scary as the war you were in, but they were both a matter of survival..

JLeslie's avatar

@comity That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. :)

CaptainHarley's avatar

@comity

May your tribe increase. We need lots more just like you. : ))

comity's avatar

@CaptainHarley What a sweet man you are Captain Harley. There are many nice people on Fluther. So glad I found you all!!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@comity

We’re glad you joined. : ))

niki's avatar

any other thoughts on this quite controversial issue?
will poor people usually remain poor and have less opportunities than rich people?
what do you think?

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther