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Dr. Carson says poverty is largely a state of mind

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  • Dr. Carson says poverty is largely a state of mind

    From the interview: "You take somebody that has the right mindset, 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. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you could give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom." -- Dr. Ben Carson

    I think there's some truth there, but it's not that simple, of course. Thoughts?

  • #2




    From the interview: “You take somebody that has the right mindset, 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. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you could give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.” — Dr. Ben Carson

    I think there’s some truth there, but it’s not that simple, of course. Thoughts?
    Click to expand...


    He is not PC but is quite right. Most of the people here who have saved > $1-2 M. Identify them and take away everything except about $250K seed money and ability to work for 15 years what they have been doing all along. I am sure that 90% of them will have the same $2M by the end of that time. Maybe sooner

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    • #3
      Identify them and take away everything except about $250K seed money and ability to work for 15 years what they have been doing all along. I am sure that 90% of them will have the same $2M by the end of that time.

      Somehow giving someone $250K as seed money is not comparable to someone in poverty. Someone in poverty does not have the $250K seed money or a $200K/ year earning potential.

      I grew up poor.  Public services - WIC, domestic violence shelters, public schools, grants for undergraduate education that no longer exist - these are what allowed me to climb out of the cycle of poverty that most of my family still is in.  If I did not have those public services and access to excellent public education I would not be where I am today. So I have to disagree with Dr. Carson.

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      • #4
        I'm sorry but this statement is incredibly out of touch. $250k seed money? With an MD? Sure most people will climb out with that.

         

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        • #5
          Mindset. There is a point of absolutes, but the premise is valid.

          Happiness more accurate on mindset than impoverished is.

          I like how the thought of measuring poverty and using different metrics has some legs. It's not the absolute number, but the way resources are utilized for outcomes.....not unlike value based care trends we are seeing in our own fields

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          • #6
            This is such a stupid statement and quite frankly lacks all logical thought. I'm appalled that so many agree with this. First, there's no way you could ever prove or disprove it. He's speaking in such broad generalities that it's hard to know exactly what he means. Second, if we do assume that people have a poverty state of mind, his point is invalid because the person's mindset is defined based on their ability to "pull themselves up" and not the other way around. If they can't, then they have the wrong mindset. If they do, then they had the wrong mindset. Just ridiculous all the way around.

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            • #7
              To a large extent I agree with his sentiments.  His story is a great one.  I would think that MrsIMDoc, as Dr. Carson's mom did, said at one point - no more, I want something better.  If the programs previously mentioned were the nature of success, then why not so many others?  The people Dr. Carson grew up with presumably had access to everything he did.  Why him then?  Much has been written about poverty and the poverty mindset.  I think there was an article in Nature or Science a few years ago that spoke to poverty inducing poor decision making - a vicious cycle if you will.  Explains why you see lottery ticket purchases when all logic says you shouldn't do that - and why most end up right back in poverty after winning.  Many just don't have the know-how.  Short termism abounds.  Poverty creates such an unfortunate culture of the mind, to the detriment of us all.

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              • #8
                Climbing out of poverty (especially multigenerational poverty) is like climbing Mount Everest.  Sure, you're doomed to fail if you don't have the right attitude - but plenty of climbers who do have the right attitude will still fail to summit.

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                • #9
                  Carson grew up in poverty in Detroit. I'm sure he speaks from experience.

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                  • #10
                    I'd be interested on the rate of folk attempting to get out of poverty actually succeed. The value factor. Give x resources with y expectations at z rates. Id the factors that allowed the success to happen and support those factors as possible-- value based support or payments.

                    Carson has the unique first hand experience that simply can't be dismissed. Likewise, he shouldn't be the norm either as the standard. His case is equal to reaching Everest summit where few amatuers would accomplish. It would be more of amateurs able to reaching any mountain base camp as the norm as success.

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                    • #11
                      He may have done it and quite a few others, but to pretend that the exception is generalizable to everyone is nonsense. I came from the same background, food stamps, wic, food banks, violence in and out of the house, being homeless and moving from couch to couch, etc...and even now am struggling with the financial baggage and trying to get to break even. Yes, I'll eventually be totally fine and above average, but its no panacea nor do I think everyone can do it.

                      By financial baggage I mean you dont know anyone with money, no one has ever modeled good financial sense, and theres no one to talk to to even let you know how to think (this was all pre internet and that is an amazing resource now). Leads to less than stellar choices that one then later has to dig out of that lasts well into attending years. Thats not anyones fault of course, but it is the reality. Lots of people will never even have it this good.

                      This totally discounts the amount of luck that exists. Someone has to give a poor kid with no means and some potential a chance, they have to allow for the kid to even have a shot at proving themselves. The person that gave you the job, wrote a recommendation, the school that took a chance on your admission, etc...Sure, after that its up to you, but someone has to give you the shot. That has never been lost on me as I look back. That is not the case when coming from better means and connections, incompetent and lesser people are constantly given positions they do not deserve and there are certainly better candidates for.

                      If you havent been poor, or assume its just a level playing field if you give it a go, I say try it yourself. Even if you have the potential there is zero reason to believe you, the loser in a loser neighborhood with a loser family will ever succeed and you also have to fight against the "obvious" cards being stacked against you and that you can even compete. Again, there isnt a family structure or someone there to bounce these ideas off of either usually, just you alone in your bed after a full day of school and work wondering what the heck youre doing and why. Part of the problem with poor people is they have no life schema where they do actually succeed. Every time they get shut down or something just doesnt work out, yes can be due to their own issues or outside, but they have no good reason to believe given history anything amazing can happen.

                      These are complicated issues and being boiled down to a sound byte that makes the validates the ego of the speaker and inflates their personal sense of worth should be taken with a giant grain of salt. He can be dismissed just as I or any other single anecdotal story can be, its insignificant and does not constitute data. It just makes some people feel better about where they are by saying their unique and special, appealing to our narcissistic tendencies.

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                      • #12
                        I would think that MrsIMDoc, as Dr. Carson’s mom did, said at one point – no more, I want something better.  If the programs previously mentioned were the nature of success, then why not so many others?  The people Dr. Carson grew up with presumably had access to everything he did.  Why him then?  Much has been written about poverty and the poverty mindset.

                        Yes, you need the right mindset to climb out of poverty. However changing your mindset alone doesn't simply get you out of poverty.  To tell a child living in poverty, "Just change your mindset and you will get out" is crazy talk.

                        I grew up poor, but I know there are many more people that grew up in even deeper poverty that I did.  Regardless, while I had the right mindset, I also was fortunate enough to receive a few breaks.  For instance, despite being poor I grew up in an excellent school district with advanced placement coursework and a "gifted track".   I took a test when I was 8 years old that determined I was "gifted" and was placed in the "advanced classes". That set me up for success and I was fortunate to have some great mentors along the way.  Others are not so fortunate to ace that test at 8 years old or be in the right place at the right time with the right mentors.  I can say without a doubt that if I had not been placed in the advanced track, I would not have progressed enough to take the AP classes in high school. Those classes set me up for success in college, etc. At the end of the day I needed more than a "mindset" to move past my upbringing.

                        I understand Carson grew up in poverty. However he was gifted with a mom who pushed him academically. Most in poverty do not have that, I know I did not. Instead I got my "academic push" from the public schools that I attended.  This is why I find it offensive that despite his personal history of poverty, that the secretary of the housing and urban development believes that poverty is simply a "state of mind".

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                        • #13
                          I seriously can't even handle this. Way to blame the victim. I'm guessing this will be used to justify stripping services from those in poverty because if the reason they're poor is their "mindset" there's no reason to help with shelter, food, education, etc.

                          The problem is that he's the exception to the rule. As a country we always hold up the exception, the one person out of 100 who made it out, and wonder what's wrong with everyone else that didn't. But maybe he's just got some combination of luck and skills that got him where he was. If his mother had been an addict and totally checked out, or was working 3 jobs just to keep the lights on and couldn't pay much attention to him, would he be where he is today? I think it's important for all of us to look around and recognize the systems or structures that got us where we were. It's definitely not just having the right mindset. This kind of simplistic thinking makes me sick, especially coming from someone who holds so much power.

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                          • #14




                            He is not PC but is quite right. Most of the people here who have saved > $1-2 M. Identify them and take away everything except about $250K seed money and ability to work for 15 years what they have been doing all along. I am sure that 90% of them will have the same $2M by the end of that time. Maybe sooner
                            Click to expand...


                            That's some fantastic insight right there! I never would have imagined that someone with a measly $250K and significant earning potential could be a millionaire in 15 years.

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                            • #15
                              If you haven't gone to bed hungry or never had a single pair of new shoes or clothes your entire childhood, you don't know what being poor is. Poor people do need someone to give them that opportunity but they also have to have that hunger to want to grab it with both hands and make something of it. Poor people need the services and the opportunities but there has to be some way to motivate them to break that cycle of poverty.

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