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?

How Do You Need Help?

No one person is able to do everything that needs to be done. As a result, everyone needs help now and then. Do you know the ways in which you need help?

A surefire way to lead to failure is to try to do everything by yourself. In all likelihood, you will exhaust your own energy, raise your own stress level, and fall short of your various goals.

Successful people are good at involving others in their endeavors. For example, most successful marriages involve two people who are stronger together than each is separately. When one person might be overextended, a second person can help to lighten the load.


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


Similarly, a person might benefit from the help of family and friends in their personal life, and from co-workers or employees in their profession. One person cannot do it all, whether the “it” in question is raising a family, maintaining a household, or running a business.

And yet, asking for help is too often stigmatized in our society. It might be viewed as a sign of weakness, or seen as a lack of commitment. Even if others might not believe that to be true, sometimes an individual may fear that is the way such a request will be taken.

Asking for help when you need it is crucial. But what happens if you don’t realize — or can’t admit — that you need help after all?

Do you know when you need help? How?

Related questions: How can you help? Are we too busy? How do you define success? What makes a good leader?

Can Vulnerability Be Strength?

No one likes to appear weak. Oftentimes, we perceive vulnerability as weakness. But can it actually be strength?

Appearing vulnerable means, necessarily, displaying a shortcoming of some sort. That, in turn, means showing some sort of weakness. That would seem to be a bad thing.

But might there be a hidden benefit to appearing vulnerable, and therefore weak? What might those benefits be?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the question ‘What belief do you have that might be wrong?’ Stay tuned for a bonus question, ‘What makes a place feel like home?’


Alternately, it might be best never to show your vulnerabilities. Is that even possible? Or desirable?

Can you think of situations or instances where revealing a weakness might be a good thing? Can vulnerability be strength? When might that be? What risks might there be?

Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? What is uncomfortable but rewarding?

What Is Uncomfortable But Rewarding?

There are a number of things in life that we might find uncomfortable. Discomfort can be found all around us, in both our personal and professional lives.

These can range from something relatively innocuous (say, an itchy sweater) to something more serious (like an inappropriate joke at work). For the most part, we experience discomfort for a reason. Typically, it is an indication that something is wrong.

Sometimes, however, a feeling of discomfort can be prelude to an improvement of some sort. Most people like things that are stable, and events or people that upset that stability, even in the process of making an improvement, can be disruptive. Change is uncomfortable.

Over the last decade or so, disruption has even become a buzzword in the business (and tech) world. AirBNB has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Used in this way, the word “disruption” suggests a change introduced that may cause chaos to an established industry or service, but ultimately leads to a better product for the consumer.

What are some other examples of something that starts out being awkward or difficult, but ultimately lead to positive change or growth? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we tell “positive” discomfort from the “negative”?

Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When is doubt helpful?