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March 3, 2004

I liked this column on the key to leaving poverty in the NY Times. I'm sure it will get a lot of criticism for not being sensitive or politically correct, but it's what I've always thought. Instead of insulating yourself from reality and progress, and taking other peoples' money, plan your life's moves better, better yourself, and you'll generally do alright. If only we could get everyone to sing this song.

Posted by charr at 4:14 PM
Reader Comments

I found this interview with John Kerry interesting, where he was asked by WCBS reporter Andrew Kirtzman if his "working class" message is overshadowed by his wealth.

Posted by dan at March 3, 2004 10:54 PM

Brooks is conservative; it's a rule somewhere that conservatives can't be blunt without being called insensitive. And you're right. Financial success is all about planning: you have to make sure that you have a marketable skill that employers are willing to pay for. I listen to Boortz occasionally. Yesterday, a man called in to the show blaming Bush for his job loss. He had a psychology degree and had never used it because he felt that he wouldn't be paid enough as a psychologist. So, after working for a patent attorney most of his working life, he lost his job. He blamed Bush. Boortz blamed his poor decision making abilities. If he didn't think he could make enough money as a psychologist, why did he get that degree? And why didn't he go back to school to better his job skills in something else that paid what he wanted when he found out how little psychologists are paid? Essentially, it's the man's fault for not aquiring the job skills he needed to be able to sell himself at a price he felt was worthy.

Posted by Jan at March 4, 2004 5:39 AM

I don't see anything insensitive about it. It's basically the "Teach a man to fish..." proverb in modern language, and I hope there aren't too many people who disagree with that. He doesn't call for completely eliminating financial support, but rather for using it to help them in their climb instead of just keeping them from falling all the way down. At least that's how I read it. I also thought it was interesting that he speaks against 'polarizing rhetoric', which I think is one of the worst fruits of politics.

Posted by Levi at March 4, 2004 10:59 AM

Jan: I agree with Boortz, however there are limits to what someone can do to protect themselves from unemployment. In our current economy, people who have acquired the skills are still without jobs. I'm not blaming Bush for the problem, but improving your job skills doesn't guarantee you a job.

Posted by dan at March 4, 2004 12:47 PM

Excellent article and I agree with Levi's take. no, the world's not ending... yet We have to have a balanced approach. We need to aid people while they are gaining the skills they need. Unfortunately, until accountability becomes an expected behavior again, little will change for the non-working poor.

Posted by Renee at March 4, 2004 1:13 PM

Levi, I agree that it isn't unsensitive, only that many will probably view it as unsensitive because it places some blame on an individual rather than a political body. I also agree that there should be a balanced approach, but I agree with Jan that a lot of losses (not all job losses, mind you), could have been prevented with better planning.

Posted by Cameron at March 4, 2004 3:32 PM

I'm hearing an unacceptable amount of agreeing going on here. Where's the controversy and heated debate? C'mon, Cameron, you're losing your touch at picking out controversial topics. ;)

Posted by Levi at March 4, 2004 4:11 PM

Dan, I think that a certain level of unemployment is unavoidable even in the best economy, so I would agree that some people won't find jobs. But I would argue that unemployment seems to be worst among the people who haven't aquired marketable job skills. I would also argue that most of the people who aquire new skills and still can't find a job didn't aquire the right skills to be competitive in the job market.

Posted by Jan at March 5, 2004 4:53 AM

There is a degree of people, too, who don't look beyond their own city. There are jobs to be found but maybe you have to move to the middle of nowhere. Maybe you have to leave the place you've lived in your whole life. These are hard things for people to do and sometimes we get complacent.

Posted by Renee at March 5, 2004 9:36 AM

Ouch. Thanks Renee. Hey, I'm looking in other cities. Sheesh. OK. You're right. I'm not unemployed, but I have been complacent about looking elsewhere to get out of a bad job situation. At least I'm not afraid to look for a job in the middle of nowhere; in fact, I'd prefer it! :)

Posted by Jan at March 5, 2004 11:03 AM

Jan, that wasn't directed at you! One of our clients at work - her dad's been out of work for 3 years in Columbus, Ohio. He won't look anywhere else! That's the type of situation I mean.

Posted by Renee at March 8, 2004 9:36 AM

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