Monday, November 01, 2010

On Poverty

There has been recent news about the poverty level in the US being at records highs. Of course they are talking about income level which is only one measure of poverty, and not a very good one.

I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the nation and now live in one of the richest, so I have thought about this a lot. How I got here is a bit of a mystery, but it boils down to an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

Reducing poverty to the notion of income or money is simplistic and leads us down rabbit trails in finding a solution. If that was the problem, just giving people more money would solve the problem. Lyndon Johnson tried that and it didn't work.

It seems to me that the dividing line between the classes in this country is education. Not the availability of education or the quality of the schools, but simply the desire to learn. Growing up in a very low income town, I got to see the kids get sorted out real fast. The dividing line was the desire to learn. That dividing line is even more prevalent today.

Some people are always learning, always reading, always going to seminars and continuing education classes. These are the successful people, regardless of their income level. Other people have no desire to learn anything new. They drop out of school, figure they already know it all, and if they get a job, never advance because they have no desire to learn. These are the people who live in poverty, regardless of their income level.

This is the culture issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

I have really been enjoying teaching seminars and classes lately, because I get to know people who have an honest desire to learn new things.