The rich understand poverty a lot more than the poor do

The old familiar bleed-your-heart-for-the-poor wars are raging once again amongst members of the Philippine intelligentsia. “Awareness” of the “plight” of the poor, after all, is quite the fashion statement in the guilt-ravaged Catholic minds of members of well-to-do cliques raised on the notion that camels have better chances of going to heaven than rich folk.

The resurgence of poverty porn in Philippine social media was sparked by the KADAMAY “issue” which revolves around a community of squatters that forcibly seized housing meant for personnel of the Philippine National Police. The more visible polar sides in this issue are the Duterte camp defending the president’s decision to allow these squatters to stay, and the Yellowtards who criticise him for ignoring real property laws.

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The real issue of course — ignoring the rather shallow personality-based siding of these “debating” camps — is around whether the poor are truly the entitled lot they are made out to be. To answer that question, we need to revisit the real definition of poverty:

Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.

This simple definition — the only definition I recognise — explains a lot about how people become or remain poor. At the root of poverty is a misplaced sense of entitlement. Those who defend the KADAMAY squatters cite what is “enshrined” in the Constitution which, we are told, guarantees access to housing, “affordable” electricity and water as inalienable “rights”.

If that were all true, then we should all simply stop paying our electricity and water bills — because having these resources piped into our homes is a “right”. And because our society, as the Constitution dictates, ought to guarantee us “secure and stable jobs”, we don’t need to spend time and money going to school — because the state will provide.

Ironically, it is the rich who possess a clearer understanding of what it means to be poor. The rich have the burden of possessing a surplus of resources to enable them to see that their kids grow up not wanting and able to pursue all of their dreams. Thus, the biggest problem of rich people is in how to avoid spoiling their kids by allowing them to grow up into adults who believe that they are entitled to the “right” to have electricity and water pumped into their homes and “secure and stable” jobs ready for the picking once they walk out the doors of their parents’ tony homes.

For, indeed, at the stem of the family trees of every wealthy family is a person or family who clearly understood what it takes to extricate one’s self out of the poverty trap — by ensuring development of capabilities to allow them to honour their commitments.

Perhaps the only reason poverty is an “issue” amongst the Philippines’ iPad-tapping latte-sipping “activists” is because many of them are raised to believe that they are entitled to good things. They actually believe that their sense of entitlement is something poor people ought to have as well in equal buckets full. Their parents ought to be disappointed.

[Photo courtesy Daily Mail.]

13 Replies to “The rich understand poverty a lot more than the poor do”

  1. I believe I have seen and read several articles that Duterte was incensed by these squatters breaking the law and have ordered them to move out of the properties, but eventually relented for reasons that he didn’t want to continue on pushing violent force on them. It’s a no win-win situation with these people. Use force on them to remove them from the quarters, and then many (especially the opposition party) would object . Don’t use force on them then accuse president of breaking the law. The only thing anyone can do is to stop breeding the kind of people who are like these squatters through education — that is, when it’s reformed and refined for quality learning and also make it more accessible and affordable to everyone so that we can avoid breeding these free loading morons for generations to come.

  2. The poor are poor, because , most do not visualize, to rid themselves out of poverty. Most are irresponsible. You can see the poor have many children, they cannot afford to feed , cloth and give good future.

    I also blame the churches, for blocking the family planning program; calling the program, “against their religious beliefs”…

    There is no way to extricate yourself from poverty; except to struggle for better life, and have some talents and skills , to earn money for a good living There are many opportunities , to earn money in legal ways; if you just use your common sense…

    To look for the government, or any politician, as a hope to end your poverty, is just stupid. To give freebees, to these people, who do not want to better themselves is another stupid way, to deal with these poor…

    The poor are poor, because, all they do is to make children !

  3. Those rich people who allow poor people to break the law because they are poor are hypocrites. Would they want that their properties in their subdivisions be taken over by these poor people ? If they agree, then let us make this rich people saints.

  4. The rich do not know how it is to be poor; they cannot relate to poverty because they are wealthy. . Why don’t they share their wealth for once and give the poor a chance to uplift their way of life? Or maybe they could try living in the slums or poverty-stricken places and feel how poor people struggle to death just to stay alive. To say they understand poverty more is just nonsensical and insensitive

    1. “Boo hoo How dare you criticize the poor, you’re hurting their feelings.”

      How many foreigners and celebrities we’ve seen on TV and Youtube “living with” these people? Were they magically lifted out of poverty by their mere presence alone? Again “fair share” is just a meaningless buzzword. How many countless billions we threw at these poor people expecting them to be enriched somehow and yet ending up with mostly ZERO results. Might as well just burn money because the end result would be similar anyway.

      The “poor people” are not immune from criticism. They are NOT special.

  5. The MASSA have still not figured out that they could take their country back in no time flat. Sure some would have to die, but less than 2% of the people involved which would be less than 5% of the total population.


  6. I believe that, generally, it’s a fallacy for anyone to think that the rich understands poverty more fully than the poor do because of the fact that they are simply not.

    Well, the rich can try to be pretentious in a way but that’s sheer hypocrisy. In the late 60’s and early 70’s when it became a fad for the hip counter-cultures of the rich West to give up their comfortable lifestyle to live in poverty, exploring themselves and the world around them, some of Manila’s conio elite crowd tried to mimic them as a way of non-conformity… but they soon found out that they are not significantly an “IN Thing” really in the Philippine setting! While to live in poverty in the West during that period was a lifestyle, it’s more of a reality here at home…a way of life for many Filipinos!

    I also don’t subscribe to the idea that KADAMAY (them being just a community of squatters) represents the poor (the backbone of this nation), nor will I consider it even ironic the possession of surplus of resources by the rich a burden. The rich revolves around in a society of privilege while those being born poor can only initially revolve around in a society of opportunity, provided if one even gets lucky to get an education to work on his way up. (I think I agree with FM when he said that, “A political system which regards illiteracy as ignorance rather than educational deprivation is a false democracy.”) If you think about it both are equals only in the way that they can be potentially good citizens or potential evil criminals of the society.

    But I have to give it to Mr. Benigno. It’s just the way the article was written. With an engaging head that some might instinctively consider resentful but with a body that enlightens for those who knows how to read!

  7. Failipinos in the Failippines can blame other people and situations for their misery, hunger, deprivation and illness, but Failipinos are the only people who can be blamed for their illiteracy.

  8. Failipinos you said? They don’t see themselves as miserable, hungry, deprived, ill, illiterate. You know why? The boob tube education they get everyday suggests that it’s better to go gyrating at the TV stations and wait for jackets to be thrown at them. Short cut to progress is to learn to color your lips and move your hips, a lot easier than labor to memorize hard facts at school. My, that’s what this telenovela generation has been schooled about. There’s no such thing as poverty in their language.

  9. I pray no one thinks I am bragging–our household income is roughly $160,000/yr. We have just a $1,200 mortgage, and a $300 car payment. I have been working since 1986. Unless you control/own your own successful business, no job or salary is guaranteed for life. With that in mind, we only have 1 child (because of what we perceive as “not enough” income). Why have I disclosed this? Well the gist of my uneducated input is — STOP having children if you can’t afford it or guarantee their future. If “poor” people do that, then there should be less and less “poor” people through each generation. Roughly eliminating over population and poverty in a decade or so.

    1. The simple formula to sustained wealth creation: Enter only into commitments you are inherently capable of honouring while ensuring that a surplus of remaining capability after expenses and taxes is left to capitalise on-going.

  10. This is a poor understanding of economic realities. Entitlement isn’t confined to any one class. As long as we stick to our current financial system, poverty will exist whether the poor are entitled or hard-working people.

    I suggest you read “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt for a primer on basic economic theories.

    To be clear, I am for upholding property rights, as well as for upholding the law. But it’s pretty clear for those with the knowledge and the mind to understand that inequality was built into the system. If you study economics deeply enough, you begin to understand that all inequality stem from one root: LANDLESSNESS. Land is power, and land is money. The laws of supply and demand all come back to land ownership.

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