Goods and Problems

My father-in-law sent me this article from the Boston Globe.  Here is the key paragraph, at least by my judgment:

Poverty and wealth, by this logic, don’t just fall along a continuum the way hot and cold or short and tall do. They are instead fundamentally different experiences, each working on the human psyche in its own way. At some point between the two, people stop thinking in terms of goods and start thinking in terms of problems, and that shift has enormous consequences. Perhaps because economists, by and large, are well-off, he suggests, they’ve failed to see the shift at all.

This analysis seems to fit with what I hear from people, and what I’ve observed.

They way I understand the article is this.  For the poor, problems and challenges have mounted to a sufficient level that the ability to handle and overcome them one by one and eventually climb out of the pit of poverty doesn’t seem realistic.  The wealthy tend not to grasp this because, in general, problems happen, even when they pile upon one another, in the overall context of good.    The assumption, for the wealthy, is that problems can be overcome.  The assumption for the poor is that there are simply too many problmes to be overcome.

To draw up short on discussion and pitch this to you, what does this mean for followers of Jesus?

3 thoughts on “Goods and Problems

  1. I have never been wealthy, but I assume that the problems of the wealthy can seem just as daunting as those of the poor, if not for the same reasons. Having the view that the wealthy can easily overcome their problems might lead us to ignore the needs of those persons.

  2. These are issues of locus of control and self-efficacy, and let’s not assume a causal relationship between external locus of control/low self-efficacy and poverty unless we know that it’s true. There may simply be a correlation between the two, and it could also be a reverse causal relationship … low LOC/self-efficacy may be characteristic of individuals/families/communities that sink into poverty. And, in a capitalistic, mobile-SES society, it would be difficult to achieve wealth without high LOC/self-efficacy. It would be interesting to do a longitudinal study and see how the patterns shake out.

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