Poverty & the Wealth Gap – 10 Hard Truths Ignored by Politicians & the Media

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I spent five years studying the rich and the poor. In those five years I asked 361 rich and poor people 144 questions each. That’s 51,984 questions. I wanted to find out what each group did from the minute they woke up to the minute they went to bed. From the data I gathered, I was able to identify 344 differences between the way the rich and the poor conducted their lives.

Over one hundred million individuals have read something about my Rich Habits research, which has been cited, quoted, referenced, commended and criticized in 25 countries around the world. As a result, I have a lot of friends and a lot of enemies. And I think I’m about to make some more with this piece.

I was raised in a very liberal household. My father was the Democratic leader on Staten Island. He ran seven political campaigns for Congressman Jack Murphy. He ran Mayor Beame’s Mayoral on Staten Island. I grew up believing that poor people were good and rich people were bad. I was raised to believe that it was government’s job to level the playing field.

But now I don’t believe that anymore. My research opened my eyes. One of the many benefits of having done this research is that I became privy to the inner workings of the lives of the rich and the poor. For five years I was that fly on the wall.

And this fly has identified 10 hard truths about poverty and the wealth gap that no politician or member of the mainstream media would dare reveal.

10 Hard Truths About Poverty and the Wealth Gap

  1. Bad Parents – The poor have parents who simply do not do their job. Drugs, alcohol, gambling and a host of other parent character flaws pulls the rug out from underneath their kids.
  2. Broken Families – The poor are raised in broken families. Divorce, incarceration, abandonment are common denominators among the poor that fracture the family unit.
  3. Bad Mentors – The poor lack good role models to emulate. Again, it all starts with bad parents, but it is compounded by bad actors in the neighborhoods poor people are raised in. Without good parents guiding them, the poor fall into the wrong crowds, who lead them down the wrong path – the path that ends in poverty or incarceration.
  4. Financial Negligence – The poor spend their money as quickly as it comes. They don’t save. They don’t invest. They are financially illiterate.
  5. Poverty Ideology – The poor believe they will be poor their entire lives. They see poverty as a fact of life. They are without hope and thus, without motivation to escape their poverty.
  6. Bad Health – The poor do not exercise regularly. They eat and drink too much junk food. They frequent fast food restaurants. The take drugs and drink too much alcohol in order to numb their pain. They are overweight and out of shape.
  7. Uneducated – The poor do not embrace education. It’s not part of their culture. They do not self-educate themselves. They do not read. They do not engage in self-improvement.
  8. Bad Habits – The poor have many bad habits and few good habits.
  9. Entitlement Ideology – The poor believe they are entitled to things others have to work very hard for.
  10. Victim Ideology – The poor believe others hold them back in life. They see themselves as victims. They look to government to take the wealth of those who are producing and working hard in society and redistribute it to poor people.

I now know that rich people, particularly the self-made rich, are the good people. They were raised by good parents, parents who cared and who mentored them to succeed.

There are outlier issues that cause poverty: pediatric cancer, chronic health disorders and random bad luck. But those, as I said, are the outliers. The vast majority of poor people are poor because they were raised by bad parents. Some were raised in broken homes, some were raised with little to no work ethic, some were raised to be ignorant of finances, some were raised with a poverty mindset, some were raised to disregard their health, some were raised to shun education, some were raised with bad habits, some were raised to believe they should be given free stuff and some were raised to believe the world was aligned against them.

We don’t have a wealth gap in this country. We have a parent gap. If, as a society we truly want to end poverty, we have to first acknowledge the cause of poverty. Parents. Parents cause poverty. Parents are to blame. As a great man once said, “the truth shall set you free.”

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Bhoomi patel says:

    Hello sir ,
    I am impressed by your research and i do agree with you parents gap .. Well i also feel there are bad parents in rich class also thought i agree .. In compare to poor class there isnt that bad parents in rich class . I wanted to ask one thing . I m really hoping for the reply . I am an artist from india . I am working on the subject of rich life .. I wanted to portray someof the issues which rich people have to face and the suprresion and restriction of emotions super rich people have to keep .. Can you tell me some of the observations related to this topic ? As you have studied rich life for 5 years . It will be helpful for the content of my paintings .
    Thank you
    Looking forward for your helpful reply .

  2. Very Interesting Post

  3. Tom, yes, families are the fabric of society and the healthier the family unit, the better the outcomes for the children. Of course there are exceptions on both sides but agree with your article. Nice work.

  4. Hello Tom,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I think it’s an important discussion to have. In college, several of the electives I took were in sociology and education because I was interested in better understanding poverty and how education and family affects social status. Later, I worked in nonprofits that attempted to improve poor neighborhoods in Baltimore City, Maryland. And subsequently I taught at poor urban public high schools in and around Baltimore City. Both my studies and my professional experiences have led me to agree with you that parents (and beliefs) are by far the most critical influences in a child’s life and the child’s life outcomes. However, you seemed to imply that you now believe the government cannot help alter this situation. I’d like to share a different perspective. First, perhaps like you, I do not believe that all the government assistance programs we currently fund (2017) are effective or proven to help close the gap. (A select few do help.) Second, there exist a multitude of methods that can assist and encourage parents to eliminate their bad habits and adopt habits that will improve the life circumstances of their children. These effective programs are not necessarily the programs we currently implement in the US. This article published by the Brookings Institute suggests specific programs and policies that have been demonstrated to help children move out of poverty. It’s called “Pathways to the Middle Class: Balancing Personal and Public Responsibilities” and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in developing policies for improving the life circumstances of the poor. You can download a PDF of the report from their website: https://www.brookings.edu/research/pathways-to-the-middle-class-balancing-personal-and-public-responsibilities/ I’m curious what your thoughts are on the policies and programs outlined in the paper, especially given your experience observing the habits of the poor. Can you see how these policies teach adults habits and decision-making that would enable them to lead their own children out of poverty?
    Most Sincerely,

    • I agree with the conclusion that economic mobility has declined in the US. It began, in my opinion, with the New Deal initiatives which were really expanded government intervention into the private sector, particularly in the energy sector. Increased government oversight via regulations has constrained economic activity by making it harder for entrepreneurs to start and manage a business. Too much time and money is now spent complying with government rules, regulations and reporting. Expanded regulations and compliance requirements put every business owner at risk of failing to comply. Litigation is much easier today thank to the current regulatory environment. It is easy to find yourself the party to a lawsuit, for any number of supposed violations. Big government is the enemy of business and economic activity.

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