What’s worse than being poor?

Comments Off on What’s worse than being poor?

As some of you know, I graduated from the University of Florida and contribute a bit of $ to their general scholarship fund on a frequent basis. I was fortunate enough to get a free ride thanks to the people that failed at elementary school math (aka “Florida Lottery” aka Bright Futures Scholarship) and it’s one of the ways that I like to give back. But one of my friends suggested I’m not really helping the poor:

“You’re giving money to people that already have decent enough standard of living that they managed to make it through high school, apply and enroll at UF, make their way to Gainesville and you’re just offsetting low interest loans they would otherwise be stuck with.

So you’re doing more about the middle class here than the poor.”

Indeed I am. At which point my buddy was a little perplexed and bewildered. And without taking any more of a shot at the poor, I feel that the government taxes should help cover food, shelter and other assistance for the truly poor in our society – they are pretty much the only ones with infrastructure and policy control to do so. I’m happy to pay more in taxes as well.

From middle class to poverty

Nobody in the third world would look at the standard of living in United States and consider it anything less than lavish. And if there is anything you have an opportunity to do here it’s the opportunity to live “The American Dream”

Unfortunately for far too many people that means expecting to live the American dream without the ability to afford it: We’re bombarded by the notion that everyone can afford a new car, carry an iPhone, Louis Vuitton purse and rock designer sunglasses. That everyone can live in a very nice neighborhood, take a two week vacation, save for retirement.. and hell, while we’re at it why not also a vacation home and heck one of us can stay at home and hang out with the kids. Hey, I know, let’s go to Vegas and push our luck at gambling too! #whatcouldgowrong

The numbers just don’t add up. Only actually rich and extremely well off (and stable) can manage to do that. Unfortunately, too many people indulge in that lifestyle but forget to save, forget to build and are instead left with that empty feeling that no matter how well things are going they are never quite good enough. Cause the guy down the street has more and damn it I need more too! So then they go into debt, whether voluntarily or due to an unforeseen emergency or setback.

I can’t help these folks either.

I’d like to help people that have a chance and ambition

Way too many people out there are working really hard and are one bit of bad luck away from losing it all. One rent payment away from being homeless, one big car issue away from losing their job. When you look at the numbers, an astonishing number of educated people have no savings and carry student loan debt that will take them nearly a decade to pay off.

And nobody gives a shit about them. Because they are young, “stupid and have the whole life ahead of them to learn” as I’ve heard often.

I’ve built my company and a major chunk of my wealth off that crowd so that is where I choose to make my contribution. In hope that some of those folks can start saving, can start putting away debt, can start building businesses and productive assets that will put them in the same place I’m in. 

I don’t do it to be selfish or narcissistic to only look to support the people that are like me – It’s just that it’s the way that I’ve lived and lucked out so I feel it’s my responsibility to increase those odds for others. You can’t help everyone but that doesn’t mean you can look down on any kind of a handout. Help is help.