The burden of blame

Screenshot 2017-04-27 22.04.04Being poor and being anxious about money can reduce your mental capabilities. This loss is, on average, equal to losing 13 IQ points — about the same drop that would occur to a chronic alcoholic, or someone who had just pulled an all-nighter.

I’d wager a guess that most people reading this aren’t chronic alcoholics, but that most of you have spent at least one night in your lives without sleeping. Do you remember how that feels? Bleary-eyed, detached — like you’re somewhere else, lost in the fog. Now imagine trying to find work, to present the best you possible, to survive poverty in America while you’re stumbling through life, the weight of tomorrow’s uncertainty constantly weighing on your mind.

Screenshot 2017-04-27 22.04.50Poverty is a vicious cycle here in the U.S.A.’s capitalist, free market economy. When discussing poverty, people often place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the poor. Society often expects the poor to lift themselves up by their bootstraps and make a living for themselves – after all, everyone has equal opportunity here in the land of the free… right?

A large body of research suggests that much of our intelligence is based in our genetics, but that these genetics can only fully express themselves in nurturing, positive environments. People who live in neighborhoods with plentiful birds, trees, and shrubs have much lower incidence rates of mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Our environments matter; our environments shape our experiences and our realities. So tell me again, how exactly do poor people have the same opportunities as the middle-class and the wealthy?

I went to college, I met people with connections in the TV and film business, I spent my free time pursuing my passions and making friends –- all with the financial support of my parents. These are the opportunities that have given me a good life and a bright future. Had I spent that time worrying about money and the roof over my head, I can’t say I would have come out the other end the same way. Who knows how many brilliant, golden hearts there are out there, struggling under the murky veil of poverty.

The increasing pace of workforce automation pushing out human labor will put almost 60 percent of global jobs at risk within the next few decades. What exactly do we plan to do with all of those people who won’t be able to find work, tell them to figure it out themselves?

By Daniil Chupalov

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