On The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t , Analysis

The article On The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t went hugely viral on Hacker News, getting hundreds of comments and votes. 

Why did it go so viral? Because the experience of being poor, and the sociological and economic causes and implications of poverty, cross political nd ideological divides. Anyone and everyone can share and relate to the experience of being poor,  knowing someone who is poor, having grown up poor. Experiencing poverty and discussing poverty, brings people together in ways that few other issues and experiences can. 

First there is the shared experience of poverty. One may wrongly assume that high-IQ people would view poverty from a cold, objectively detached perspective, but in the comments anecdotal evidence and stories of poverty are as common as data and statistics. The personal, subjective  experience is as valuable, if not more so, as objective data and statistics on poverty.  People in the comments who are making solid six-figure salaries in tech or in finance, can relate to and share their experience of having grown up poor or having to budget assiduously in college or early in their careers, before they were able to strike it rich. 

So while being poor sucks, it also helps define who we are [in that people tend to retain their penny-pinching habits and fear of going broke later in life even when they are no longer poor or at risk of becoming broke] and is a universal, shared  experience that crosses political, cultural and economic barriers. It does not matter if you voted for Trump or Biden, or if work or Google or at McDonald’s or Walmart; everyone clips coupons the same way: there is no such thing as a conservative coupon or a liberal one, or a liberal saved penny or a conservative penny. Having to drive carefully for fear of your car breaking down and being unable to afford repairs, is another bonding experience..

Second, there are shared narratives , which are commonly-held beliefs and values about society and culture that unite readers regardless of politics or other differences, and is why the article went viral.

This passage from the article about the limitations of job skill training, stood out:

The obvious solution for the worker here would seem to be to train themselves in such a way as to be more valuable, but this is often a bit harder or less plausible than it sounds. Some of this can be personal reasons (if you are barely holding things together, it’s hard to find the time and energy to get a bachelors degree from scratch) or financial (It’s nice to think you could learn a new skill and start a new career, but if you are barely keeping your family fed as it is, you might not actually be able to take the pay cut dropping back to entry level would require.

High-IQ liberals, centrists, and conservatives alike can relate that politicians, on either side of the aisle, put way too much faith in skills training, while overlooking the obvious short-comings: that acquiring new skills requires a major time investment , which the poor often lack; and second, although not mentioned in the article, there is an IQ requirement, too, in that less intelligent people will find it much harder to acquire high-paying skills, compared to smarter people.

There is also the shard belief that in spite of America’s great wealth, there is great poverty too, and that is indicative of something being wrong or inherently broken with the system or modernity, that there is so much abundance and wealth yet so much poverty too. This is not a call for wealth redistribution or higher taxes, but rather more of an observation. Why does America’s government seem to do such a poor job helping these people in spite of spending so much? There is the shared belief that America’s political leadership , republicans and democrats alike, are deaf, indifferent, and blind to the problems facing ordinary Americans