Loans for Poor People

There aren’t any “poor people” in the world. There are people living in poverty. Using someone’s socioeconomic status to describe the essence of who they are is offensive and obscures the fact that those living below the poverty line are not generally there due to personal failure or character flaws. It ignores the fact that we as a global society have a history of oppressive behaviors and of an attitude that when someone has less than you it means they are lazy or stupid or just generally less worthy of a person than you.

I believe the United States (where I was born and continue to live) has one of the worst records when it comes to this behavior. We’re told that there is not a class system in the United States and that we’re a land of equal opportunity. Those that cannot make ends meet have failed to exercise restraint or “personal accountability.” Never mind the fact that the deck was probably stacked against them all along. Seventy-five percent of those in poverty in the United States are living in generational poverty. That means they grew up in poverty and probably went to school in a low-income school district. Because of the ridiculous way in which our education system is structured, schools in low-income districts generally do not have adequate funding to gain the necessary resources to provide a good quality education. In addition, the majority of these kids grow up understanding that they will never go to college. At a young age that instills the thinking of “Why study?”.

Even when someone who has been living in generational poverty manages to achieve economic stability, they are often dragged back down into poverty due to feelings of guilt. There is a tendency to give beyond their means to other friends and family members due to the fact they often relied on others for help and cannot bear to say no to someone in need even if this threatens their own stability.

Loans should be extended to those facing hard times. Not the kind of scam adjustable-rate loans doled out by less than honest mortgage brokers, but real opportunity creating loans. Habitat for Humanity does this with great success. The Pattillo Foundation has given zero-interest loans to women in developing countries to start their own businesses. This program has been going on since the early 70s and they haven’t had one loan defaulted on yet.

I’m not naive. There are some shiftless, worthless people out there. But for the most part, there are good people in an unfair system who just need a break.