This Ain’t Hard, People
Crazy days. COVID, first grandchild, basement flood, habitual drunkenness. What’s a guy to do?
But I still have time to read tripe like this: “The last few months have laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge.” That’s Jamie Dimon.
Now, I don’t know if it’s tripe. If he means, “We need to eliminate government social programs that create incentives for people not to work, with the result that they live on the edge,” then I’m fine with it. If he’s suggesting that we eliminate the boondoggle that is Primary Dealer status, one enjoyed by J.P. Morgan, in order to shave cream from the upper-crust and thereby create greater equality, I’m fine with it.
But Dimon, an establishment lefty, ain’t talking about those things, I think it’s safe to say.
I think you can separate the poor into two classes: rural poor and urban poor. I can’t speak from first-hand experience with the urban poor, but it can’t be denied that (i) the Great Society created incentives not to work and to get pregnant out of wedlock, and (ii) since the Great Society, the urban poor have lots more of both. That being said, I don’t know how much opportunity is available in the inner cities, though I suspect there’s a helluva lot more than people think.
With respect to the rural poor, the same reverse incentives are in play, but I know there are plenty of opportunities. I will take any childless person and put him or her on the path to prosperity in three years with this simple ten-step program:
10. Save the cost of the two tattoos (average: $250 each) and invest in a dividend fund. Savings after three years: $560.
9. Stop smoking cigarettes. Half-a-pack cost $4. $4 x 30 = $120. $120 x 12: $1,440. $1,440 x 3, plus a bit of interest: Savings after three years: $4,500.
8. Stop drinking and smoking dope, or just restrict yourself to a reasonable fun night once a week. After three years, you should have $2,500 more in savings.
7. Get 1.5 jobs and slice just twenty cents per hour from your page and invest it. After three years: $2,000.
6. Walk or ride a bike. Huge savings here, but hard to calculate, but after three years, $10,000 is a conservative guess.
5. Grow some of your own food. Three year savings: $200.
4. Take advantage of the tons of free meals and giveaways from your local churches and charitable outreach: $2,000 (wild guess).
3. Work hard and be a dedicated, friendly employee that goes the extra mile. Raise from your boss after two years: At least $3 an hour. $5,000 in year three.
2. Cancel all streaming services. $1,000.
1. Only buy food at a grocery store that is on sale and adapt elementary other frugal measures. $5,000.
There you have it. Specifically, after three years, you have $32,000 saved up and a good job. Now you can ditch the part-time job, buy a house, and continue your upward move.
But of course, this is all elementary. Every rural poor person knows all this. But they don’t care. They are severely hampered by poor character (specifically, virtually no ability to delay gratification), which I’m afraid the government can’t correct. All we can do is force them to adapt by not feeding their character flaw. All we can, in other words, is cut off the social programs that enable it.