Earlier this week, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Ben Carson, came out in defense of position of stating that “poverty is a state of mind.”
In an interview earlier this year, Ben Carson made several claims that were certainly absent of historical reflection. According to NPR,
“Carson — who himself grew up in poverty to become a widely acclaimed neurosurgeon — said people with the ‘right mind set’ can have everything taken away from them, and they'll pull themselves up. He believes the converse is true as well. ‘You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world (and) they'll work their way right back down to the bottom,’ Carson said.”
On the surface, to some at least, this may seem to be a deep, philosophical analysis of many of the situations Americans seemingly find themselves in – falling from wealth and rising from poverty. The idea of America being a society where everyone is capable of creating their own “rags-to-riches” tale through this country’s mighty meritocratic system may seem ideal in principle but is wholly impractical and ahistorical. If one is born into poverty, it is overwhelmingly more like that they will remain in poverty throughout the rest of their life rather than rising out of it. Many studies have been done on this issue and have been proven to be as much of a fact as it can get – to the point where simpletons, such as myself, can mouth off such truths. Notwithstanding this, this fact still manages to go over Secretary Carson’s head.
Not only this, but other studies have even come out that suggest that the next generation may be the first to earn less than the previous one.
Poverty is a byproduct of decisions made by this country; many decisions which have been made to directly better one’s own position. In order to be in a position to better one’s own position in such a systematic fashion, one must be in a position of influence at the onset. Those in influential positions possess the capability, in our system, to better their fortune in a way that it will eventually have a trickle-down effect – the true and honest form of trickle-down economics: From a position of authority, establishing policy that further deepens one’s level of affluence, subsequently bettering the next generation; then this generation will perpetuate similar policies for the next generation, and the next, and the next, etc. …
So no, Ben Carson, poverty is not a state of mind.