Are the poor lazy, or are the lazy poor?

It seems that I am hearing the invective phrase, that so-and-so republican really said in his speech that, “the poor are lazy”. This phrase is often attributed to a democrat or liberal leaning media person or pundit.

Forgetting the political nature of this statement in the first place, and trying not to take a side in the partisan argument, my issue falls in the fact that the statement itself is carefully crafted to be inaccurately damning a class. The reference is that someone, or some group, who doesn’t like or care for the poor really believes that that if you are poor then you must be lazy. But, if you read the original statements, and not the convenient sound bite, what they are saying is, “if you are lazy, then you likely will be poor.” The former statement damns a class, the latter damns a behavior.

Words matter and when one reads the interpretation of another’s words it is a good idea to actually read the original statement and remember that in politics, each of the replies, regardless of party, has been manipulated, crafted and tested to provide a vilification effect on the opposing interest, regardless of the original intent or context.

Words and their order in a phrase can alter meaning. These slight placement differences are never accidental. We are in an age where most of politics is now based on some form of fraud. And it is we who now suffer its effects.  In the world or profligate sound-bites we know longer think–we just emote–and the effect on us and our society is building to a catastrophic conclusion.

If we are to combat this sound-bite, words as weapons mentality, we must first and always correct the semantic error and then argue the real point. In this case we need to make sure the point is not that the poor are lazy but that if you are lazy you will likely be poor.  Then one can argue the real point and not get bound up by false emotional relativism.

Perhaps we should go back to thinking!

(Tom Loker served as the Chief Operating Officer of Ramsell Holding Corporation. Prior to joining Ramsell, Mr. Loker was the founder and senior partner of Wild Tiger Holding Company and Thomas Loker Consulting. Visit his website at and his blog at


  1. Unfortunately, the poor are being taken care of by the government apron strings, and that will always be less than being taken care of and helped up by the private sector.

  2. One thing for sure, you can’t get rich by stealing from or trading with a poor person. Nor can you get a well paying job from a person who is poor. The reason is they have little of value worth stealing or trading for. Because of that, they can[t pay much for the work you might do for them. Lazy or not, it is their choices that led them to their condition. They either produced little of value and/or failed to save and invest a significant portion of what they did produce.

    Yes, I am saying that their poverty is their fault. Rather than that being a negative, it can be a source of power. They can choose to learn to make better choices and use what resources they do have in a much more productive way. The government “helping” them only makes matter worse. The rich, for whom they could work and with whom they could trade will have their wealth taken from them. The government chooses what to do with that wealth. The result of that is almost always worse than the condition the government says it is trying to correct. Simply compare 20 years ago with today. Case closed.

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