Everything you think you know about poverty is wrong

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Ann Amberly Greenbelt, MD
    April 2, 2013 8:52 p.m.

    What the United States owes first and foremost is a living wage for their own citizens. With the unemployment rate so high (and much higher than computed statistics given by the Labor Department), this is a recipe for utter disaster for our citizens. Try being mid-50's and being thrown out of work in the recession--no one is going to hire you, and you're too young for Social Security. Americans needs to take care of their own, and then export their successful methods to other countries.

    Brigham Young had it right--the mark of a moral businessman is that first and foremost he is focused on creating as many jobs as possible that will pay a living wage. (The wealth part, said BY, would come of its own, but then would be reinvested in creating even more living wage jobs.) How much better it would be for Haiti to have such moral businessmen and make good use of the talents of Haitians, rather than exporting them to a country that itself does not create enough jobs and has too few moral businessmen.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    April 1, 2013 8:57 p.m.

    “The truth is, rich people in developing countries are much poorer than the poor in rich countries,” said Pritchett.

    That certainly explains Carlos Slim.

    April 1, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    He was talking about increasing visas, not guest workers. Guest workers are subsidized by the taxpayers, visa workers are paid for mostly by the business. This is how it should be. There are a few visas that allow family to come here, with nothing to return home for; it's easy to understand why so many stay here.

    With 4.3 million visa and green card workers, I think we do more than our fair share, especially when we have over 23 million Americans looking for full time work.

    Experience has shown us that our government can't run a visa program, and assure the American people that they do return home. Millions are here right now illegally on overstayed visas.

  • Jazzledazzle Provo, UT
    April 1, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    I served a mission in Brazil. Many people over there looked at me as a rockstar just because I was American. Many told me how lucky I was to live in such a great country.

    Fast forward 10 years, Brazil is on the rise, though contrary to what many people may think they are way behind the U.S. in many areas. The north is very poor with mud and straw houses, outhouses, and people that can barely eat day to day. I have always been very patriotic and had it not been for wanting to serve an LDS mission, I would have joined the Army or Marines. I have never, however, been more nervous about my country. The debt just keeps piling up, Obama Care and other government shenanigans are not helping either. We always prided ourselves on being a free country with so much opportunity.

    Instead the rich get taxed heavily, the lazy get paid to sit at home at watch tv. As a country, we have a lot of issues to resolve. Hoping this country can rise back to greatness!

    April 1, 2013 7:12 a.m.

    Mr. Pritchett is an ultra liberal, open door spokesman for cheap labor for business. Instead of helping countries lift themselves up, he wants to drive down developed countries middle class and poor. A one world order of rich and a surplus of labor.

    I have friends in Thailand that drive $70,000 cars, and they are upper middle class. Eastern Europe? Middle class IT workers get 4 two week paid vacations a year. The idea that America's poor live like multimillionaires in third world countries is ludicrous.

    I'm sad to see this tpe of speaker at Sundance. We expect liberal, but not over the cliff. To far to the left, or to far to the right, you end up in the same place.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 30, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    It does strike me as odd that the theme of his thesis is let unskilled workers come to idustrialized nations to work for short periods of time..but then says that indusrialized nations have systematicly eliminated unskilled jobs because of their costs leaveing millions of native citizens unemployed because they have no skills and there are no, no skills jobs..How does this help?

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    March 30, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    I thought people were poor because they are all lazy and unmotivated, prefer to live on welfate to employment and don't know how to shop for groceries. Tell me it's not true.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    March 30, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    So how do we get the rule of law and effective governance into the countries that don't have them? Anarchy does not allow for an environment of growth, as Somalia has demonstrated. Those countries with 'more government' (when fairer) such as the Nordic countries, don't seem to be doing too badly these days.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    March 29, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what THIS country can do for you.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    Samhill's comment was the best comment on here.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    Let's look at this:
    1. Productive economy: A culture of people who are industrious, learned and not idle

    2. A government that is responsive to the citizens: A culture where government service is focused on service.

    3. A capable bureaucracy: A culture where things are done with order and fairness.

    4. Rule of law: A culture where they are taught correct principles and they live by them.

    Sounds like a rightous nation to me.
    Maybe we should be teaching rightousness and not what's in it for me.

  • bored Lindon, UT
    March 28, 2013 11:50 p.m.

    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.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    March 28, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    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.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    March 28, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    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.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    March 28, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    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.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    March 28, 2013 7:41 a.m.

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

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    March 28, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    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.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    March 27, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    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.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    March 27, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    "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?

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 26, 2013 9:52 p.m.

    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.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    March 26, 2013 5:30 p.m.

    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.

  • GmaxD Lehi, UT
    March 26, 2013 2:50 p.m.

    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.

  • Midway Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 12:52 p.m.


    "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.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 26, 2013 12:09 p.m.

    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.

  • boris Provo, UT
    March 26, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    @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.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    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

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    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.

  • Midway Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    "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.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    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????

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 26, 2013 6:40 a.m.

    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!

  • SME Bountiful, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    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.