Can We End Poverty?

While poverty is a subjective term, it is a fact that, right now, not the marketplace, public policy, nor charitable giving consistently covers the necessities that so many people in this country desperately need. Millions must choose between healthy food, adequate housing, reliable health insurance, quality childcare, and many other essentials because their job doesn’t pay a living wage, or they cannot work for various justifiable reasons.

Meanwhile, many of the wealthiest Americans pay no income tax and do an outstanding job of converting taxable income into protected wealth, playing a massive role in keeping America’s public coffers without the resources to address this situation, along with other needs. Similarly, tax loopholes allow U. S. companies to create “headquarters” in other (low-tax) counties to escape paying their fair share in this country.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Are we too busy?’


From a different perspective, many well-intentioned people point to various religious texts that say, in effect, the poor will always be with us. But there is theological debate over whether this means there will always be poor people or, coming at it from a completely different angle, advising those with means to have an affinity or allegiance with those of extremely limited resources over the “needs” of those who either do all right or, more to the point, have considerable resources that could help meet more needs in this country.

On the political front, many wonder if anybody is worth enough to be a billionaire. Did you know that there are 614 billionaires? The wealthiest 400, in fact, hold $3.2 trillion in assets. A slice of those resources could go a long way toward meeting the needs of our poorest neighbors.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, when those in government decide to help the poor, our existing programs do a pretty good job at alleviating their immediate needs?

Can we end poverty? Should we at least give it a try?

Related questions: What is the greatest problem facing humanity? How will the economy be impacted by COVID-19? What is the purpose of money? How do we turn ideas into actions?

Is There A Principle According To Which You Try To Live Your Life?

Some people try to follow the Golden Rule as much as they can. Others try living each day to the fullest. Still others work to give more than they receive.

There are many principles you can choose to practice habitually. Some believe that if you don’t have such a code, life guides you rather than you guiding your life.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you define success?’


Do you have a principle that governs your actions? If so, what is it, and how has it helped you in day-to-day experiences? Has it helped you in personal growth? Does living your life according to a principle make life easier? Or do you accept that choosing to live life this way requires sacrifice, but that’s okay? If you don’t have a principle to guide your life, is there one (or more) that you would like to have the willpower to practice?

So, have at it, dear readers: Is there a principle according to which you try to live your life?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? How do you set priorities? To what should we aspire? What five ideals are most important to you?

What’s The Most Important Thing You’ve Read In The Past 6 Months?

Has the most important thing you’ve read recently come from a book — non-fiction, a novel, or a short story — a newspaper or magazine article, a blog post, the lyrics to a song, a poem, or a note from a friend?  Or, perhaps, some other medium?

And, what has it been about? The pandemic?  Politics?  The economy?  Or has the most important thing been about a passion of yours?  Or has it taken you deeper into a hobby?  Possibly it’s something a friend wrote you via snail- or e-mail.  Or, maybe it’s been about something completely different.

Lastly, have you done anything differently because of what you’ve read?

Related questions:  What are you reading?  What are you thinking about?  What is important?  

What Is Intelligence?

Are you book smart, good at math, or a logic problem pro?  If so, you are likely labeled as intelligent.  We see people with a command of language, numbers, or puzzles as highly valued in society.

But is this definition of intelligence too limiting?  Could there be different ways to measure the capacity of a brain?

Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, argues in his theory of multiple intelligences that there are eight different intelligences.  They are:

  • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  • Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
  • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

What is intelligence?  How could society benefit from a broader view of what it means to be smart?  How would we be different?  On a personal level, how are you smart?  (Traditional intelligences are okay too.)

Related questions: How Do You Learn? How Are You Special?  When Is It Useful To Fail?

Is Technology Neutral?

The word “technology” refers to methods, systems, and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes. Examples are all around us. Whether you’re reading this question on a desktop, laptop, or a smartphone you are, of course, using technology.

Cameras are an example, from the early devices called daguerreotypes to today’s digital cameras. Are each of these devices neutral, their value only determined by their use? For example, cameras can be used positively or negatively.  You might capture a loved family portrait or stalk celebrities as an over-zealous paparazzi.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Is technology neutral?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘Freedom or security?’


In addition, what about technology being used on a grander scale? For instance, the science of splitting the atom is used to produce electricity from nuclear reactors as well as to build potentially population-erasing bombs. Are these technologies neutral or do they have inherent value?

Simply asking if nuclear energy is “clean,” or do its waste stockpiles serve as a danger for current and countless future generations implies value, doesn’t it?

Do nuclear bombs make us less safe due to their destructive capacity? Or alternately, do they make us safer because of the deterrence their existence creates?

This debate is a long-standing one. Critics claim that technology is used/built for a reason — reasons that carry inherent positive or negative values — while the other side posits that it is simply a process or tool that derives value solely from its use by the user.

Where do you stand on this issue? Is technology neutral?

Related questions: Are science and religion compatible? What role does technology play in your life? What do you get out of social media?