‘Intense backlash’ proves the truth of Ben Carson: poverty ‘a state of mind’

A vast poverty industry employs and distributes wealth to a huge political constituency dependent on massive federal appropriations.  Any suggestion that money is not the solution to the persistence of poverty is anathema and must be harshly ostracized by them.

They immediately recognized the danger when Housing and Urban Development secretary Dr. Ben Carson told the truth during a Sirius-XM interview with Armstrong Williams.  The New York Times summarizes the remarks that generated what it calls an "intense backlash."

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind," he said, according to a transcript of the interview that was released on Wednesday. "You take somebody that has the right mind-set, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there."

He added that helping people may not better their lives.

"You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world – they'll work their way right back down to the bottom," he said.

The responses are so predictable that it is almost tedious to note them.  The Times is happy to list them here.  Incisive stuff, such as George Takei calling this world-famous professor of medicine emeritus a "blithering idiot."

Dr. Carson receives the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. (He received news of it during a seven-hour operation.)

What concerns me is the obvious truth of Carson's point.

I experienced the difference between poverty and lack of money and stuff when I first went to Japan in 1967 as a student of 19 years' experience of life.  Fifty years ago, Japan was not yet a rich country.  The average Japanese middle-class family, such as the one I lived with for a year, had much less stuff than most Americans below the poverty level did.  Fewer middle-class Japanese had cars than poverty-level Americans did.  The same went for living space and most appliances.

But the Japanese were on a roll, growing 10% a year or more, and most everyone's life was getting better and better each year.  Middle-class Japanese people had less money and fewer goods than Americans below the poverty level, but making the case that this lack of money and stuff made them "poor" or "impoverished" was impossible for me.  I was raised in a very liberal family, so this basic truth came as a revelation to me.  It was one of my first steps in becoming a conservative.

Following graduation, I spent several years at or below the poverty line as a graduate student.  But I knew how to make good food on the cheap, and I had a plan.

Okay, I realize this is not an inspiring story of overcoming great odds.  It can be read as a confession of white privilege, or educated privilege, or maybe even liberal privilege.  But it is also proof good enough for me to conclude that lack of money and stuff does not on its own cause poverty.

Dr. Carson's own experience of overcoming lack of stuff with a positive mindset is far more persuasive than mine, of course.  But both illustrate the truth of his comments.

A vast poverty industry employs and distributes wealth to a huge political constituency dependent on massive federal appropriations.  Any suggestion that money is not the solution to the persistence of poverty is anathema and must be harshly ostracized by them.

They immediately recognized the danger when Housing and Urban Development secretary Dr. Ben Carson told the truth during a Sirius-XM interview with Armstrong Williams.  The New York Times summarizes the remarks that generated what it calls an "intense backlash."

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind," he said, according to a transcript of the interview that was released on Wednesday. "You take somebody that has the right mind-set, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there."

He added that helping people may not better their lives.

"You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world – they'll work their way right back down to the bottom," he said.

The responses are so predictable that it is almost tedious to note them.  The Times is happy to list them here.  Incisive stuff, such as George Takei calling this world-famous professor of medicine emeritus a "blithering idiot."

Dr. Carson receives the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. (He received news of it during a seven-hour operation.)

What concerns me is the obvious truth of Carson's point.

I experienced the difference between poverty and lack of money and stuff when I first went to Japan in 1967 as a student of 19 years' experience of life.  Fifty years ago, Japan was not yet a rich country.  The average Japanese middle-class family, such as the one I lived with for a year, had much less stuff than most Americans below the poverty level did.  Fewer middle-class Japanese had cars than poverty-level Americans did.  The same went for living space and most appliances.

But the Japanese were on a roll, growing 10% a year or more, and most everyone's life was getting better and better each year.  Middle-class Japanese people had less money and fewer goods than Americans below the poverty level, but making the case that this lack of money and stuff made them "poor" or "impoverished" was impossible for me.  I was raised in a very liberal family, so this basic truth came as a revelation to me.  It was one of my first steps in becoming a conservative.

Following graduation, I spent several years at or below the poverty line as a graduate student.  But I knew how to make good food on the cheap, and I had a plan.

Okay, I realize this is not an inspiring story of overcoming great odds.  It can be read as a confession of white privilege, or educated privilege, or maybe even liberal privilege.  But it is also proof good enough for me to conclude that lack of money and stuff does not on its own cause poverty.

Dr. Carson's own experience of overcoming lack of stuff with a positive mindset is far more persuasive than mine, of course.  But both illustrate the truth of his comments.

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