In a statement that the left-wing media have ripped out of context, HUD Secretary Ban Carson (who was raised in severe poverty and rose to become the nation’s foremost pediatric neurosurgeon and is, therefore, approximately 50,000 times smarter than the average journalist) said that poverty is largely a result of a person’s own choices and not something inflicted upon them.
“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,” Mr. Carson said.
He is absolutely correct.
There’s a huge difference between being poor and being in poverty. And it’s more than a matter of being able to work out of deprivation. One can be poor in the sense of having limited economic assets and still live a life of meaning and dignity. But to be in poverty… to accept one’s condition of deprivation and wallow in it… that is indeed a state of mind.
My grandmother used to say “There’s nobody so poor they can’t pick up their own front yard.” She fled Detroit in the mid-1970’s, after the city government was solidified under the corrupt racist mayor Coleman Young and the city was commencing its downward spiral into an urban dystopia. Her wisdom was based on watching middle class neighborhoods be destroyed in real time.
No one forces the poor to live in litter-strewn neighborhoods, among smashed windows and graffiti-scarred walls. No one forces poor neighborhoods into states of dilapidation. The people who live there create those conditions. They elect the political leadership that allows their schools and neighborhoods to rot and fester.
What he said is really no different than the axiom that you cannot help people who refuse to be helped; most would regard this as a truism.