Friday, September 23, 2005

Free suggestions, please take one

Wizbang has an interesting post on reducing your chances of being poverty-stricken:

1) Graduate from high school. School attendance is mandatory until the age of 16, and free. Further, the law encourages kids to stay in school -- our labor laws are designed to encourage kids to stay in school and out of the work force until they are 18.

2) Don't have a baby out of wedlock. Again, this is one you gotta work at to violate. It's been about 2000 years since anyone just "woke up pregnant" -- itt's pretty well established what sorts of things lead to pregnancy, and the vast majority of pregnant women did those things willingly. Yes, there are exceptions, but those are very rare exceptions.

3) Don't get married as a teenager. This is an expansion of the above one. But it also reminds people that marriage is supposed to be forever, and that's a hell of a commitment to make before one is 20 years old. Even miliatary enlistments are only for a couple of years, and nobody in their right mind is gonna give a 20-year mortgage to a 19-year-old. Take a couple of years as an adult to establish yourself, find out just who and what you are, before making a lifetime commitment.

4) Don't get hooked on alcohol or drugs. Again, those are active choices. Nobody wakes up an alcoholic or a junkie; it takes a bit of work and effort to develop an addiction. In fact, teenagers have to violate the law to even get their hands on it, let alone regularly enough to develop a dependency.

Now, this is not a formula guaranteed for success. Even Will says that "poverty is minimal," acknowledging that it is there.

I should know. I'm a living example.

I followed all those rules without realizing it at the time. And I was born with some remarkable gifts and advantages. I've had numerous opportunities throughout my life, and I've let most of them pass me by. So I find myself now with some hefty debts, living paycheck to paycheck.

But I don't blame anyone but myself. I can look at precise moments in my life when I had a chance to do better, and for various and sundry reasons (the biggest being sheer laziness) they slipped through my fingers.

Every now and then, though, I grab one at the very last moment. One such case was my dithering and procrastinating when Kevin picked me as one of his "guest bloggers" back in April 2004. I hemmed and hawed at the time, wondering if I could find enough material to come up with a couple of pieces a week. A year and a half and over a thousand postings later, I find I can't imagine my life without Wizbang -- and the readers who make it all worthwhile. I'm still a "nobody from nowhere with a nothing job and no life," but I'm also a part of the #10 blog in the Ecosystem, only six points behind the Drudge Report (who, in my opinion, doesn't count as a "blog") and 26 behind the legendary Hugh Hewitt.

So, no, I don't "blame" poor people for being poor. But I don't believe in protecting people from the consequences of their bad decisions. One of the most fundamental rights has to be the right to be wrong -- and depriving people of the right to make mistakes is a grave injustice.

I don't think I could say it any better.


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