Comments about ‘Everything you think you know about poverty is wrong’

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Published: Monday, March 25 2013 11:20 p.m. MDT

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Bountiful, UT

Lant Pritchett has some interesting ideas, it is rare that an academic actually looks at teh results of "international communities" actions to see if their policies have the results desired/predicted. I'm not sure that allowing large numbers of unskilled laborers into a welfare state is a good idea though. Our welfare systems will provide them with a living far beyond what they have in their native countries, so why work? It will be much easier to live on our welfare after they arrive.

Hayden, ID

The IRS has created more poverty in America than health problems. We need a government program to control the IRS, instead we get Obamacare which gives the IRS more power over our lives and will generate even more poverty!

SLC gal
Salt Lake City, UT

So the four things every developed country needs is "productive economy, a government that is responsive to the citizens, a capable bureaucracy, and the rule of law."

Boy is the US in trouble, or what????

Salt Lake City, UT

"The best way to help the poor is to let them work in industrialized nations."

Given that the poor in poor nations are around 3 billion in number, and increases by a whopping 80 million or so every year, this is hardly a logistical possibility. Not to mention that it will lower the standard of living in the industrial nations. The only thing keeping the USA from becoming a third-world nation of poverty itself is its limits to immigration and guest workers.

I know, my thoughts are not popular, especially for the left-wingers. But think about it. There are 3 billion or more poor people in the world. Allowing unlimited guest workers into the USA to reduce poverty will only do a drop in the bucket to alleviate the 3 billion poor, and will obviously send the US middle class into poverty. It is simple logic.

Salt Lake City, UT

The following four slightly edited sentences seem to sum up this article:

- "Haitians [people] are poor because they live in a society that..."

- "... [does NOT have] a productive economy, a government that is responsive to the citizens, a capable bureaucracy, and the rule of law."

- "Until a country develops institutions that make productive work possible, its people will remain poor..."

- "The best way to help the poor is to let them work in industrialized nations."

I happen to agree with all of the above...with the caveat that helping the poor by letting "them work in industrialized nations" **must** conform to the four conditions of the 2nd sentence within the "industrialized nation".

Allowing people into our or any other developed country without regard to those conditions simply ensures that the developed country eventually reverts to being similar to the place the poor are trying to escape.

No solution there.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

I suppose the assumption is when people have money, they will invest and use it wisely and know how to grow their money.

I suppose not only will we need to bring in unskilled labor and pay higher minimum wage to them. Then we'll need to send them to finance classes. But when that fails, then the government will need to take their wages and re-distribute it to them. Since people are incapable of handling their own personal finances.

I get what he is saying, but, money management is a big problem at any income level. You could win the lottery and have $150 million in your pocket. And find in a year time that your broke and more destitute.

Having lived in a third world country. Most people I talked with were college graduates with engineering degrees. High skilled, no job. People complained about how small their homes were. The only thing to increase the size of the home was for them to spend a few hours and weave nipa together. Which they were unwilling. Corruptness was also a big problem in the government and the main church. You were wealthy if you got into bed with oneofthem

Provo, UT

@Midway He never suggests all 3 billion poor people come and work. In fact, its important that they don't. I family member can come as a guest worker and provide for his/her family at home and make significant savings at the same time which will change the future of many people upon return. On that same point, the increased income that returns to the nation will increase its standard of leaving not decrease it.

If simple logic brings you to a conclusion that somebody that has studies something for so long and so carefully is wrong you should probably consider that maybe you are not grasping the concept. I'm not saying that there may not be some reasonable arguments against what is being proposed but your simple logic shows that you simply don't understand.

Durham, NC

Liberal Ted..... what 3rd world nation did you go to where most people were college educated? I do business globally a lot, and I haven't run into such a place yet..... where were you?

SME - by definition, the speaker was talking about work permits, not green cards per se. With a work permit, if you don't have a employer sponsor, you must go home. There is no taking advantage of the system without working in a work permit program.

...and what in the heck does the IRS have to do with any of this? If you pay your taxes, the IRS isn't a problem.... so this has what to do with 3rd wold nation poverty?

THere is a good deal of truth in this. I do disagree with the education claims though. An educated citizenry will not accept corruption to the level an uneducated population will. You see restricting education as a main tool to control a population in places such as the middle east. You don't want people expecting more than thay already have. But overall, I agree with most of what was said.

Salt Lake City, UT


"If simple logic brings you to a conclusion that somebody that has studies something for so long and so carefully is wrong you should probably consider that maybe you are not grasping the concept...but your simple logic shows that you simply don't understand."

Having worked in the tech industry for the past 20 years, I have first-hand experience that guest worker programs indeed can do much damage to the host nation. I have seen how H-1B visas have decimated tens of thousands of US tech worker careers, lowered their wages, and ultimately is the main reason that so many US college students avoid these careers, thus making the US even less self-reliant in technology. 2/3 of US tech workers are out of the industry in only 10 years!!!

I do not support eliminating guest worker programs - I support the wise use of them, which is rarely done. Lane Pritchett's opinion is ONE opinion. I am not naive enough to think it is the ONLY valid opinion.

Many "world bank" types support massive open borders immigration and one-world government sovereignty-destroying agreements such as NAFTA, FTAA, etc. No thank you.

Lehi, UT

This resonates with what I have long believed about poverty--which is that the general level of poverty in a country is more a function of politics than of anything else.

Kaysville, UT

Having lived in poor countries for 7 1/2 years, some of those countries have actually outsourced a lot of our jobs because they speak English pretty fluently and understand our laws and order for at least 100 years in their society. As Mr. Pritchett may have done a study, he needs to have lived in some of the countries to know first-hand what it is like to be there and experience the everyday occurrences in the citizen's lives. You cannot have them wholeheartedly come to our country and to many countries wholesale. The brain drain from those countries is large enough even without a lot of visas to come and work here in the United States of America. Many European and other western type of countries have their own immigration problem. I remember living in Germany, our apartment building was filled 40 years ago with people from Mediterranean countries doing jobs as many from Mexico and other Latin American countries are doing in the USA now.

Good article but is only one point of view and somewhat restrictive.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I was expecting him to say, the reason they are poor is because they are content being poor. then to persuade us we are wrong for wanting something better.

Newport Beach, CA

"Pritchett insists on the temporary nature of the [guest-worker] visas."

Yeah, well, good luck with that.

You're an ambitious Third World guest worker whose visa just ran out. Do you (a) meekly go back to your Third World crudhole, or (b) keep living the much better life that even an illegal alien enjoys in America?

Does the government go out of its way to find and deport you? When doing so is going to be called cruel, heartless and "extreme," and every Democratic politician is secretly happy to have you as another reliably-voting client for his welfare state?

Mchenry, IL

It's a great idea but the problem is people wouldn't return after 3 years. And the unemployment rate is currently too high to support it.

That was an excellent point about automation taking the unskilled jobs away from workers.

John C. C.
Payson, UT

Don't believe the nay-sayers. Having more guest workers actually increases wages in the communities that receive them. They and their families actually use fewer government services than U.S. citizens do.

Guest workers create more jobs than they take. They and their families are consumers who spend money and pay taxes. Workers need supervisors, payroll secretaries, and other staff from among the local natives. Check the studies and learn.

There are thousands of jobs around here that remain unfilled--and I'm just talking about the listed jobs. Why list positions you can't fill?

The benefits of increased labor mobility go beyond dollars. The bonds among us and countries that send workers would strengthen. Direct contact with "foreign" people would overcome prejudice. They and their families would come to appreciate American values and become less vulnerable to anti-American propaganda.

Sharing the wealth grows the wealth, especially when done the American way.

Mchenry, IL

A person making 8.50 and hour pays no federal income tax. Citizen or not.

Santa Monica, CA

Right now, someone is feeling really proud and honored to be a poor person in America rather than a poor person in Haiti. They are also feeling that--if they moved to Haiti, their own natural talents would make them a rich person and their 8.50 an hour would translate to them being an upper class snob in Port Au Prince. They are also, at this moment--penning a letter of appreciation to the head of the corporation for which they work and offering to clean their boots in thanks for allowing them to be poor in an 8.50 nation, rather than an eighty cent an hour nation.


The socks were probably an anniversary gift from his wife and the only true comments made in this speech were pretty obvious.

As for the rest what would an erstwhile "World Bank economist say"? I suspect the answer is: things favorable to an elite world banking coterie - who, as far as I know, produce nothing but inflatable paper that ultimately creates problems for honest working people everywhere.

Rural sport fan

The guy is right. Having lived in a country where "guest workers" were a VERY common thing, I can say he is right, in most of his ideas. The one problem that he didn't address, is what happens when the native people that used to do those lo end jobs can no longer get those jobs? The answer I saw was, you get more welfare recipients.

And it isn't the guest workers who are the problem in regards to them not going home...it is the businesses willing to keep paying them illegally. If they weren't getting paid, they would be happy to go home to their families and flash a little of the cash they have built up...assuming they haven't become dumb consumers like most Americans, and spent all their money already.

Lindon, UT

Where would all of our teens work if every job at McDonald's is taken by a poor immigrant? It's bad enough already...it would only get worse.

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