Advocates to H.U.D. Secretary Ben Carson: “Poverty a State of Economics, Not of Mind”

05.25.2017

For Immediate Release: May 25th, 2017                                                                     

Contact: Magen Allen                                                                 

Mallen@hungerfreeamerica.org                                                                                         

(212) 825-0028, ext. 212

Advocates to H.U.D. Secretary Ben Carson:

“Poverty a State of Economics, Not of Mind”

“Wishful thinking doesn’t end poverty; effective public policies do.”

H.U.D. Secretary Ben Carson, who grew up in a household that received significant benefits from government safety net programs, just said:

“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mind-set, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there.”

In response, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, issued the following statement:

“All Americans, but particularly one of the top federal anti-poverty officials, should understand that the main causes of U.S. poverty are economic, not mental.  Overwhelming facts and data prove that the main causes of poverty are low wages, too few jobs, and an inadequate safety net – not some sort of personal attitude problem.   Furthermore, most Americans who experience poverty do so relatively briefly, often in economic downturns. Nearly a third of Americans dipped below the poverty line during the recession -- and about half of all Americans (including Ben Caron’s family) have received SNAP (formerly called Food Stamp) benefits, at some point during their lives.  Does Carson really believe that half of all Americans – including his mother – have some sort of mental deficiency that makes them impoverished? As a former brain surgeon, Carson should understand that poverty is no more caused by negative attitudes than is brain cancer. Carson should stop blaming the victims of poverty and stop turning his back on his own family’s history, and instead focus on proven ways to reduce poverty and its symptoms such as making high quality housing affordable and raising the minimum wage. Wishful thinking doesn’t end poverty; effective public policies do.”

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