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Dec 06, 2007


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I wonder if one might synthesize Karelis' ideas with the notion of social pathology. It seems that many trapped in perpetual poverty suffer from social pathologies rooted in the lack of the kind of tacit knowledge many of us have for navigating the economy. I am thinking of things such as knowing how to keep a job, show up on time, etc. These are real things that some tragically do not have built into their lives and suffer because of it.

Combining the idea of social pathology with Karelis' ideas might create a powerful typology for understanding persistent poverty. If this typology is on the right track, then I think your suggestion that, "Personal involvement with the poor can’t be replaced by impersonal bureaucratic cash and benefit distributions based on formulas," is right on track. I do not think this negates the need for government involvement through transfers payments of some sort. Perhaps transfer payments can be thought of as necessary but not sufficient.

Thanks for a great and helpful post.

Michael W. Kruse

"Perhaps transfer payments can be thought of as necessary but not sufficient."

I should have made that explicit but that is indeed what I was driving at.



This is very interesting and pursuasive. Hope of real change, or the lack thereof, seems to be an important factor within this theory: "Experience tells you that there is an inadequate supply of relievers around" or at least, no supply you believe you can access regularly.

I agree with how this squares with the goal of the Jubilee and related laws--to prevent economic holes from becoming too deep or too permanent, or too overwhelming.


Thanks for a fascinating post. One solution that we need to look at more seriously is the role of the Deacon. They need to be good managers of their households so that they can teach poor people how to do the same. The older women teaching the younger women will be part of this.

Bill Bonner said "True prosperity doesn't come from money…but from habits, ideas, and attitudes". Tranfering money will not eliminate poverty. Habits and attitudes will have to be transferred as well. Bureacracies cannot transfer attitudes and habits, but deacons can.

Brad Cooper

Hey Michael,

Phenomenal analysis by Karelis. Thanks for providing a summary to help us get a handle on it. Some excellent comments by Peter, T, and Ron Mck, also. All very helpful insights on a very important topic.

We need more of this kind of wisdom and understanding if we are truly going to help the poor. That's why not just anyone could be appointed as a deacon (as Ron pointed out). The primary prerequisites being "full of the Spirit and wisdom."(Act 6:3)


will spotts

Mike - Thanks for this post. The analysis Karelis offers is brilliant and original. OK - it was new to me ... I don't know if it is original or not. But it seems almost self-evident: there really is an easily understood difference between relievers and pleasures. I think this is an important piece of the puzzle we have been missing - in terms of finding ways to actually help.

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks everyone. I glad you found Karelis' ideas as insightful as I did. And Will, this the first time I've heard this put in this way.

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