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America's Poverty Trap

I have mentioned the Poverty trap in America on a couple of social media platforms. I am, in these instances, not referring to any scheme or plot by government or big business to keep people in poverty, though such things can and may exist. America's real poverty trap is this idea that, in order to have value as a person, you must have stuff (usually stuff you can't afford). Nearly all businesses are willing to extend lines of credit to people just so they can acquire the same stuff at higher prices over the long term while simultaneously convincing these customers that such lines of credit are for the benefit of the customer. This is a lie. Buying a 65" TV that costs $500 using a line of credit that will cause you to end up paying $1000 is just bad financial decision-making. Credit card companies capitalize on the same principal. Unlike lines of credit specific to a single business, however, credit card companies promote their services by telling customers that, by using credit, they can build credit trustworthiness that will allow them to eventually borrow larger amounts and that this is a good thing. It is not. There is no possible scenario where paying a larger sum for the same amount of goods or services is beneficial to a customer. These companies are quite literally taking your money and giving you absolutely nothing in return. They are robbing you blind and telling you it's for your own good. Money that you could be saving, investing and growing is instead being spent on the empty promise of being more valuable as a person by having more valuable things obtained at a price outrageously far above fair market value. In order to escape the poverty trap, we must first understand that a person's value is in no way connected to their possessions. Our value is in our ability to have a lasting positive effect on the world and the people in it. Having expensive things does not enable us to do that. Being able to demonstrate kindness, compassion, understanding, commitment, integrity, selflessness, joy and generosity even in the face of overwhelming adversity: these things are what make a person valuable. In summary, a person's value is determined by their ability to love. Once one understands what makes them truly valuable as a human being, they must then determine how to apply those values financially. It is my personal belief that the only moral obligation a person has financially is to acquire wealth so that, when it becomes necessary, that wealth can be shared in love with others who have need. The world we live in today is lousy with people in genuine need, so the financially responsible thing to do is to grow wealth, not waste it. No, I am not talking about Communism. That system is based on sound financial principles, but generosity should never forced at the end of a gun and that's exactly what happens when government is allowed to regulate the distribution of wealth. While wealth should absolutely be shared with those in need, it should also be allowed to benefit those whose effort and sound judgment made it possible, otherwise the inspiration to acquire wealth disappears from society. If these things are true, and I believe that they are, it falls to the individual to acquire and share wealth responsibly, but the first step is to acquire it. That is why we are here, why I created this website in the first place and why I have spent no less than 20 hours per day since its creation working to expand, improve and promote it. It is why this website is a free resource available to the public. It is why I do not take anything from donations for personal gain and why I donate my own money to it. It is why the only way I choose to monetize the site is by using my own personal referral links, so that I gain nothing unless my users gain something. I want this website to be the beginning of a legacy that is greater than how much oxygen I converted into carbon dioxide during my life. I want to leave my children with something more than funny stories to tell at my funeral. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, I want the world to celebrate my life more than it mourns my death. Most of all, I want to be a demonstration of Christian love to a world that is infected with hatred.

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