Reaction Paper, "The Persistence of Poverty" by Charles Karelis

Topics: Poverty, Cycle of poverty, Poverty reduction Pages: 3 (890 words) Published: October 14, 2011
This article discusses a book written by Charles Karelis titled “The persistence of Poverty” in which the author tries to convey to the reader what it feels like to be poor using the analogy of one’s reaction to a single bee sting as compared to having received many bee stings. The author considers that by having many bee stings the individual would not see the benefit in having only one sting relieved, when he still has several more causing pain. In addition, that being poor only results in being poorer and once one has reached such a degree of poverty one may stop trying to find a way out of it.

The author talks about a term used by economist called “the law of diminishing marginal utility” which if you could imagine being in a desert and being extremely thirsty for water, when you get that first amount of water the desire for that water is great, however, once your thirst is quenched and the availability of water is plenty, you may not be so concerned with having more water, the water becomes less important to you. According to the author, this logic flips when one is dealing with extreme poverty or privation. For example, when considering being poor and having only one problem to deal with or even two or three, such as paying rent, electric, and buying food the desire to continue trying to move forward may be higher, then if one were working to pay rent, electric, and buy food, but could not buy clothing for their children, put gas in their car, pay credit card bills, or even afford to go to the doctor if they were sick, then the individual may be less incline to work to pay any of these bills. So the author’s argument is that once one gets to this point, their privation or dept of poverty causes even more lack, and the spiral of poverty cannot be broken.

The author goes on to discuss a term he calls “relievers” which he describes as providing a means to significantly reduce the hardships the poor have to deal with, so that instead of having many...
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