thoughts on ‘habits of rich and the poor’

Sometime late last week I had read on theinternetmonk one of the Saturday Ramblings posts (this one to be specific) that linked to a CNN article (right here) which took offense about something posted on Dave Ramsey’s blog (this is the article … but it referred to statistics provided by a Tom Corley) quoting some statistics about rich and the poor and their differences.

At the time of reading the “Saturday Ramblings” post, I would have said I agree that the stats were taken a little out-of-context, but thankfully since the Ramblings post is linked to the CNN article which is linked to the ACTUAL Ramsey post, I can get to the REAL heart and see that since his original posting, Dave added “A word from Dave…” that probably was double the length of the original article to explain himself more clearly since he received a lot of “feedback”… feel free to read it yourself but the part that stood out to me was this:

Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:

1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.

I’m not sure if I completely agree it’s just as simple as those three (and I’m thinking of at least a few I’ve either met over the years getting to know the homeless, or even family)… just #1 alone sure seems to ball up a lot of things into one.

Either which way I only thought about this whole topic while reading Proverbs 22 today which I felt was appropriate subject matter (I bolded phrases of important at least from my view on the subject):

Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both.

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender. Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end.

Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor. Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too. Quarrels and insults will disappear. Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend.

The Lord preserves those with knowledge, but he ruins the plans of the treacherous. The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!”

The mouth of an immoral woman is a dangerous trap; those who make the Lord angry will fall into it. A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away. A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.

I’ve seen some things that I guess could count as “personal habits” that can really perpetuate poverty: laziness (but at least to me this stems from something else, like being scared of change, lack of support or community, deep depression, no belief that anything will change even if you try, etc).

I do believe (as my wife and I have used his methods to some extent) in Dave Ramsey’s concepts, especially regarding debt. I really take to heart the sentence “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender…” so we worked through eliminating our debt. But we aren’t simply blessed because we no longer have wealth… we are blessed when we give to others. Yeah it clearly says give to the poor here, and I think it’s often way too easy to think about that in terms of money but I [usually] mean relationally also. That lack of support I mentioned REALLY comes to mind for someone in particular. If there was someone older and wiser in this person’s life that they would listen to – could her life be changed? I truly don’t know. But I’ll always hold onto that hope.

PS – I find it funny that at least for the family member who would be considered “poor”, they:

1) eat healthier than I do

2) their kids read about the same # of books as my kids do (not so sure about the non-fiction count)

3) is more consistent about trying to send birthday and christmas cards than we are

… you know what? When I re-read those statistics I just have to agree with my original sentiment than they are crap. If you ARE poor, you are just not as likely to BELIEVE good habits create opportunity (because you don’t experience this much if at all), in life-long educational self-improvement, and certainly not network (at least in the way I bet they are talking) because who exactly are you going to network with? At least for what I do for living (software development) when I hear that I think of connecting with other “professionals” like in a users group or a conference. What exactly is there out there for someone who’s poor? I’ll tell you… other people that are poor too. And what do you think they are going to talk about? Life-long educational self-improvement or good habits? It’s possible, but likely?

I’m not proposing any answers or solutions because I don’t have them, but outlining the differences between “habits of the rich and the poor” I just find it hard to believe is helping a whole lot.

I guess I might actually occasionally feel the need to blog… :)

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