I don’t write or talk much about this subject, poverty, I’m probably too moral a person. I tend to see a person’s life as the consequence of a series of decisions. I have always recommended simple living which is living on few resources but enjoying the benefits of making desirable choices about your time everyday and living fully.
There are three points in life that seem to me important and have serious consequences. If you want to be poor and always struggle you know what to do: avoid schooling, spend some time in prison and be a mother of a child who doesn’t have a father around.
The three important pivotable points deal with (1) educational choices somewhere in the mid-teens. Completing some educational award stage, graduating, is a requirement for the remaining parts of our society that continues to provide jobs and careers. This remains a fairly straight and stable track to avoid poverty. Boring to me, but not to most people.
The second comes a little later when adult criminality becomes a choice. Criminal choices are fairly simple. The people who get caught are the ones who are conscious of their choice to be criminal or who say to themselves ‘I can lose control in this situation and it won’t come back to bite me.’ Usually this is a group of people, friends who make this choice together.
The last one is a choice everyone makes intentionally. The relationship to family.
A woman raising a child by herself has chosen one of the worst possible alternatives. Finding a partner and having child is a difficult but usually feasible decision. But the critical part of this decision is being part of a family. One consciously includes parents, grandparents and siblings. Exclusion had generally negative consequences. The same is true for choosing a partner. The implication for family are built in. Even gay men can choose to be part of a family with nieces and nephews.
Old age without a family or close friends is a unique form of poverty that hits me starkly and with fear. It is the consequence of critical decisions and those should be conscious decisions.