Educating the Poor for Positive Press and Profit: Part I

Education: The Key to Eliminating Poverty?

It was a rather slow afternoon at the bank.  We had just finished our lunch rotations for the day and were enjoying the calm before the inevitable storm of customers that were sure to fill out lobby at any minute.  There was not a single patron in the branch when the masked man entered the front door.  I barely realized that I was experiencing my first bank robbery until the words “don’t do nothin’ stupid” hit my ears and I saw the silver handgun in the man’s right pocket.  He approached the first teller, demanded the contents of her drawer while pointing at me and demanding my presence from behind the teller line.  By the time I came around the corner, the thief had already moved to the second teller and was frantically stuffing cash into a grocery bag.  When he finished, the man tore out of the bank and jumped into the parked car that was waiting for him, which quickly sped away.

It’s difficult to tell a story like this without assuming terrible stereotypical things about this person, especially after being violated in such a manner.  “This guy’s so poor; he decides to take what’s not his.”  “He must have run out of drug money.”  “That guy deserves to live in poverty.”  I’ll be the first to admit that thoughts similar to these ran through my head for the remainder of the day.  After further contemplation, however, I began to wonder what the root problem was that caused this event to take place.  Did he need this money to survive?  If so, why would a person risk time in prison when that meticulous planning could be put to positive use?  Assuming the robber were actually poor (and this is a big assumption), what put him in that state of poverty, and what steps could have prevented his need to rely on thievery to survive?  These are the questions that plagued my mind, and which I will explore in the following pages.

It should be painfully obvious that poverty is a serious issue in America, and that something must be done.  In One Nation, Underprivileged, Mark Rank argues that poverty is an increasing issue in the United States despite the fact that it is one of the world’s richest countries, and that fighting poverty is the responsibility of society and government.  Rank, an expert on the subject of poverty appeals to his audience by invoking a sense of pity on those in poverty by describing their lifestyle including the cost of living versus their low wages.  He also suggests a new policy to eradicate poverty in America. These steps include many government-funded operations, many of which are already in force but (according to Rank) lack proper funding.  He also suggests that the rest of the communities (i.e. those not in poverty take responsibility for the poverty issues.

As an alternative to throwing additional money at a preexisting solution that apparently isn’t working, I’m offering a completely different policy in an effort to lower the number of people suffering from poverty which focuses on education by financial institutions such as banks.  As the evidence below will support, education of practical financial concepts will both open a wide pool of clients that most companies avoid as well as give them the positive outlook that they are looking for in our dire economic times.

*****Stay tuned next week for Part II!!*****

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~ by Scott L. Clark on July 12, 2010.

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