May. 26th, 2017

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Ben Carson, current HUD Secretary, opened his mouth recently and said that poverty is a "state of mind." To be fair to Carson, he was born poor and got himself out of poverty. John Scalzi, another guy born poor who's no longer financially challenged, had thoughts on Carson's comments.

John rather correctly noted that being poor means not having money, which results in a lack of margin of error. To shorter his post, poor people drive old beater cars which, when they break down, they may not have money to get fixed. All the positive mental vibes in the world won't replace a busted timer belt.

I would like to focus on why Carson said what he did. It is a truism that you will find no one more demonstratively against smoking as somebody who quit smoking after developing the habit. I would submit that the act of successfully quitting smoking requires a certain mental attitude.

The same can be said for getting out of poverty, especially in one generation. It's hard work, and requires a certain mental attitude. Unlike quitting smoking, getting out of poverty also requires luck. Good luck in terms of getting opportunities and in avoiding pitfalls.

Unfortunately, recognizing that "there but for the grace of God go I" requires self-reflection and humility. Ben Carson is not noted for possessing either of these traits. It's the very lack of those traits that led him to his current position.

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