When Dave Ramsey posted my Rich Habits research on his blog (2o Things the Rich Do Every Day) way back in July 2013, it immediately went viral. A prominent CNN blogger posted a scathing rebuke of the article. The Huffington Post put their two cents in, as did the Daily Kos and many blogs around the country. Thousands voiced their approval or disapproval of the article via blog comments.
Clearly, that article hit a nerve.
After the fog cleared, I realized there were two opposing schools of thought surrounding poverty that were driving the controversy and responsible for it going viral.
- Victim Ideology
- Self-Reliant Ideology
This school of thought argues that poverty is outside your control. You are poor because you are a victim of your circumstances. Individual responsibility, behaviors and habits are irrelevant. Your actions, choices and decisions are irrelevant.
Life simply screwed you and there is nothing you can do about it.
Adherents to the Victim Ideology assert that it’s not their fault that they were born into a poor, broken or dysfunctional family, or that they were raised in a bad neighborhood, or that they chose to work in an industry that happens to pay low wages or that they were simply the victim of random bad luck.
What makes this ideology relevant is that, at the margins (meaning for a small minority), there is some truth to it.
Disabilities, chronic illness and any number of other conditions can and do work against you in a random manner. Unfortunately, proponents of this Victim Ideology extrapolate these exceptions and apply them to the whole population of those struggling with poverty.
Advocates for this school of thought believe poverty is the byproduct of individual behavior, poor choices and bad habits. They believe that most everyone has the ability to lift themselves up and alter their circumstances.
The Self-Determinant believe that through hard work, continuous lifelong self-improvement, making good choices, forging Power Relationships and forming good habits, anyone can lift themselves out of poverty.
This school of thought believes those who continuously seek to better themselves and their circumstances, create their own good luck and their own good fortune in life. They also believe those who do not seek to better themselves and their circumstances, create their own bad luck and their own bad fortune.
This ideology believes you are not a victim of your circumstances, but the master of your circumstances.
When Dave Ramsey posted the “20 Things” article it raised the ire of many of those who were firmly ensconced in the Victim camp.
If you were to read any of the blog comments from those in this Victim group, you would have to conclude that they see the poor as good and the rich as evil.
What’s frightening about this Victim Ideology is that it is growing in popularity. You see this Victim mindset rooting itself into society, by the growing number of individuals advocating for Socialism, particularly in America.
This Victim Ideology does nothing to help the poor. In fact, it actually contributes to poverty by rationalizing away individual responsibility for your circumstances in life.
If you are not engaged in daily self improvement, every day, you will not improve your circumstances in life and you will remain poor.
Do not buy into this Victim Ideology. Those who push it either do not know any better or have a hidden agenda to keep the poor, poor.
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