An American political debate is raging around a simple question; is living in poverty a choice or the result of uncontrollable circumstances?
Of course there are no clear-cut answers. However, there are a some rather obvious facts to support basic claims about wealth and income inequality.
Simply put, if your are born the child of wealthy parents, you enter the world with advantages. And if you accept that as truth, then you must also accept the premise that the opposite is true. Children born into poverty face entirely different and more challenging futures due to lack of access to financial resources.
The advantages of a good education are not debatable. The more formal education a person has, the better their chances are of leading a financially successful and productive life.
Considering the high costs of a college education and post-graduate studies for professional careers, inherited wealth can buy more opportunities to advance without dependence on student loans.
Changing circumstances can be for the better or worse. The rich can squander their wealth and the poor can attain wealth through means other than inheritance. How people obtain or maintain wealth is perhaps the greatest area of debate on today’s political stage.
Can “laziness” be defined by economic class?
Opponents of government programs designed to help the poor sometimes suggest that people are only poor because they don’t work hard enough.
That argument loses much of its truth when viewed against the fact that many Americans working multiple jobs, some for more than 50 hours a week, remain in poverty due to low wages.
Alternately, some Americans have amassed so much wealth they don’t work at all. Does that mean rich people are lazy?
A recent Pew Research survey revealed some interesting data on income inequality. Most believed that hard work and wealth do not go hand-in-hand. In fact, just 35 percent said, “lack of hard work” is to blame for people being poor.
No doubt, there are both rich and poor people who could be considered lazy. The question is, do some people make a conscious decision to be poor? And why are the loudest political voices shouting out against the poor coming from the mouths of millionaires?
If given a choice between being rich or poor, it is difficult to believe that many would actually say they prefer living in poverty.