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The greatest tragegy of poverty


In the United States, the official poverty rate last year was 12.5%. This means that 1 in 8 people in the United States (assuming even distribution of people of different socio-economic levels, which is clearly not the case) earn or live with less than $10,787 a year. That $10k number isn't quite true, as the actual amount varies based on the number of people in a household, increasing if you have more people. And that "household" part assumes you have a "house" to hold.

In gross numbers, in the United States, 37.3 million people were in poverty last year. That number is close to the number of people without health care, but that's a different post.

So, what's the greatest tragedy of poverty?

I would argue loss of opportunity.

The loss of opportunity to better oneself.

The loss of opportunity to contribute to society.

The loss of opportunity to learn.

The loss of opportunity to succeed.

The loss of opportunity to good health care.

The loss of opportunity for good health.

The loss of opportunity to achieve one's potential.

It's impossible to better oneself if one lacks opportunities, even the small ones like being given a chance. How does one go to school to better oneself when one can't feed oneself? How does one learn that drugs aren't the answer when one is surrounded by them (though a causal connection between poverty and drug use, or the inverse, seems unproven at the moment, the two are both related some way). How does one send a child to trade or vocational school or college, if the child lacks the nutrition to develop? Or if the parent never knows of the opportunities just outside his reach?