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Poverty

  • ... I have the impression that when we talk so confidently of liberty, we are unaware of the awful ... servitude of poverty when means are so small that there is literally no choice at all ...

  • A poverty that is universal may be cheerfully borne; it is an individual poverty that is painful and humiliating.

  • There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves.

  • A poor man defended himself when charged with stealing food to appease the cravings of hunger, saying, the cries of the stomach silenced those of the conscience.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • Poverty is the fundamental cause of most of the physical, moral and economic ills of humanity.

    • Helen Keller,
    • "A Letter to You from Helen Keller,", for the American Association for the Conservation of Vision ()
  • Her poverty was a hard ulcer in her, and it took all her strength.

  • We think of poverty as a condition simply meaning a lack of funds, no money, but when one sees fifth, sixth, and seventh generation poor, it is clear that poverty is as complicated as high finance.

  • To live in poverty is to live with constant uncertainty, to accept galling indignities, and to expect harassment by the police, welfare officials, and employers, as well as by others who are poor and desperate.

  • The 'discovery' of poverty at the beginning of the 1960s was something like the 'discovery' of America almost five hundred years earlier. In the case of each of these exotic terrains, plenty of people were on the site before the discoverers ever arrived.

  • Ours is a society that routinely generates destitution — and then, perversely, relieves its conscience by vilifying the destitute.

  • By the Reagan era, the 'culture of poverty' had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology: poverty was caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs but by bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles. The poor were dissolute, promiscuous, prone to addiction and crime, unable to 'defer gratification' or possibly even set an alarm clock. The last thing they could be trusted with was money.

  • Poverty is not ... a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.

  • The greatest step forward in human evolution was made when society began to help the weak and the poor, instead of oppressing and despising them.

  • We lived in a housing project graced by the architectural style of Early Chicken Coop ...

  • Your choices run out when your money does.

  • Poverty is an expensive luxury. We cannot afford it.

  • ... the first freedom of man, I contend, is the freedom to eat.

  • ... a society in which there is widespread economic insecurity can turn freedom into a barren and vapid right for millions of people.

  • You seem to think that everyone can save money if they have the character to do it. As a matter of fact, there are innumerable people who have a wide choice between saving and giving their children the best possible opportunities. The decision is usually in favor of the children.

  • Of all the art forms, poetry is the most economical. It is the one which is the most secret, which requires the least physical labor, the least material, and the one which can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, and on scraps of surplus paper. ... poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women. A room of one's own may be a necessity for writing prose, but so are reams of paper, a typewriter, and plenty of time.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Age, Race, Class, and Sex," speech (1980), Sister Outsider ()
  • His [Marx's] most explosive and indeed most original contribution to the cause of revolution was that he interpreted the compelling needs of mass poverty in political terms as an uprising, not for the sake of bread or wealth, but for the sake of freedom as well.

  • [The United States] is an enormous frosted cupcake in the middle of millions of starving people.

  • Until we end the masculinization of wealth, we will not end the feminization of poverty.

  • What Business had you to get Children, without you had Cabbage enough to maintain 'em?

  • Patches are a nun's jewels.

  • How the American right managed to convince itself that the programs to alleviate poverty are responsible for the consequences of poverty will someday be studied as a notorious mass illusion.

  • ... poverty denotes a lack of necessities and simplicity a lack of needs.

  • Few save the poor feel for the poor ...

    • L.E. Landon,
    • "The Widow's Mite," The Easter Gift ()
  • You lose your manners when you're poor.

  • Submission to poverty is the unpardonable sin against the body. Submission to unhappiness is the unpardonable sin against the spirit.

  • I am not so repelled by Communism: an element of Communism in politics is necessary and inevitable. In any involved society there must be a feeling that something must be done about poverty — which is the basis of communism.

    • Rebecca West,
    • in Victoria Glendinning, "Talk With Rebecca West," The New York Times Book Review ()
  • Poverty is the great reality. That is why the artist seeks it.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1937, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • I have always known that being very poor, which we were, had nothing to do with lovingness or familyness, or character or any of that ... We were quite clear that what we didn't have didn't have anything to do with what we were.

  • [President Johnson] had the political will to say that having one in five Americans living in the kind of abject conditions their fellow citizens associated with Third World countries and the novels of Dickens was as dangerous as any battlefield enemy.

  • Poor kids are much more likely to become sick than their richer counterparts, but much less likely to have health insurance. Talk about a double whammy.

  • ... part of the problem with a war on poverty today is that many Americans have decided that being poor is a character defect, not an economic condition.

  • I do not wish to know what the country does for the rich, they can take care of themselves; but what it does for the poor determines the decency, not to say the civilization, of a government.

  • In much of the world the chief human right that people recognize is 800 calories a day.

  • It is as easy for most of us to keep from stealing our dinners as it is to digest them, and there is quite as much voluntary morality involved in one process as the other.

    • Jane Addams,
    • title essay, Democracy and Social Ethics ()
  • ... private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city's disinherited.

  • Stitches / holding seams / in the clothes / that cover up / our naked souls — .

  • The welfare system traps single mothers into remaining poverty-stricken pseudo-housewives and sentences their children to deprivation.

  • What is haunting is that people fallen off the train threaten those who remain on board.

  • Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

  • There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty ...

  • The poverty of the West is far more difficult to solve than the poverty of India.

    • Mother Teresa,
    • in Kathryn Spink, For the Brotherhood of Man Under the Fatherhood of God ()
  • How many times we have picked up in the streets human beings who had been living like animals and were longing to die like angels!

  • The first time I received an award, I was very surprised. I did not know whether to accept it or not. But I came to the conclusion that I should accept awards in the name of the poorest poor, as a form of homage to them. I think that basically, when awards are given to me, the existence of the poor in the world is being recognized.

  • I will never tire of repeating this: What the poor need the most is not pity but love. They need to feel respect for their human dignity, which is neither less nor different from the dignity of any other human being.

  • On certain continents poverty is more spiritual than material, a poverty that consists of loneliness, discouragement, and the lack of meaning in life.

    • Mother Teresa,
    • in Becky Benenate and Joseph Durepos, eds., No Greater Love ()
  • To be able to proclaim the Good News to the poor we must know what is poverty.

    • Mother Teresa,
    • in Brian Kolodiejchuk, ed., Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light ()
  • Once any group in society stands in a relatively deprived position in relation to other groups, it is genuinely deprived.

  • Poverty is a stubborn thing: you seldom escape it with one bound.

  • ... poverty ... is very bad for the formation of a personality. ... Not until I knew for certain where my next meal would come from could I give myself up to ignoring that next meal; I could think of other things.

    • Helen Westley,
    • 1917, in Djuna Barnes, I Could Never Be Lonely Without a Husband ()
  • Lack of money rivets us firmly to the ground, one's wings are clipped.

  • The outrages of the powerful, the insolence of the rich, scorn of the proud, and malice of the uncharitable, all beating against the broken spirit of the unfortunate.

  • There the poor have another advantage ... for they may defy not only death, but every loss by sea or land, for they have nothing to lose.

  • You, that have toiled during youth, to set your son upon higher ground, and to enable him to begin where you left off, do not expect that son to be what you were, — diligent, modest, active, simple in his tastes, fertile in resources. You have put him under quite a different master. Poverty educated you; wealth will educate him. You cannot suppose the result will be the same.

  • If responsibility for the upbringing of children is to continue to be vested in the family, then the rights of children will be secured only when parents are able to make a living for their families with so little difficulty that they may give their best thought and energy to the child's development and the problem of helping it adjust itself to the complexities of the modern environment.

    • Suzanne La Follette,
    • "Institutional Marriage and Its Economic Aspects," Concerning Women ()
  • ... the Great Society's War on Poverty was also a war on alternative values. In reality it became a war on the poor, not on poverty.

  • We always come back to the same vicious circle — an extreme degree of material or intellectual poverty does away with the means of alleviating it.

  • The worst thing about poverty is not the actual living of it, but the shame of it.

  • I shall not accept more than I need while others in the world have less than they need.

  • The world was one of great contrasts, she thought, and if the richest part of it was to be fenced off so that people like herself could only look at it with no expectation of ever being able to get inside it, then it would be better to have been born blind so you couldn't see it, born deaf so you couldn't hear it, born with no sense of touch so you couldn't feel it. Better still, born with no brain so that you would be completely unaware of anything, so that you would never know there were places that were filled with sunlight and good food and where children were safe.

  • For those who have lived on the edge of poverty all their lives, the semblance of poverty affected by the affluent is both incomprehensible and insulting.

  • Poverty! Everything dies in its cruel grasp.

    • Amable Tastu,
    • in Marcel Cordier, La Lorraine des Écrivains ()
  • [On being broke and unable to reclaim her clothes from the dry cleaner:] It's like, the clothes are in jail. I go in every so often and say, 'Could I just see the pants?'


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  • Like many another romance, the romance of the family turns sour when the money runs out. If we really cared about families, we would not let 'born again' patriarchs send up moral abstractions as a smokescreen for the scandal of American family economics.

  • We were so poor we envied everyone we ever heard of.

  • You never know how you'll turn out till you've been down to half a dollar and no prospects.

  • Children in poverty cannot advocate for themselves. It is the work of responsible adults to do that for them.

  • Not only subjective poverty is never overcome by growth, but absolute poverty is increased by it. ... Absolute misery grows while wealth increases.

    • Joan Robinson,
    • title essay, in Rendigs Fels, ed., The Second Crisis of Economic Theory ()
  • Capitalism with near-full employment was an impressive spectacle. But a growth in wealth is not at all the same thing as reducing poverty. A universal paean was raised in praise of growth. Growth was going to solve all problems. No need to bother about poverty. Growth will lift up the bottom and poverty will disappear without any need to pay attention to it. The economists, who should have known better, fell in with the same cry.

    • Joan Robinson,
    • title essay, in Rendigs Fels, ed., The Second Crisis of Economic Theory ()
  • ... we're focusing too much energy on the symptom rather than the disease: Our real enemy is poverty, not welfare.

  • When I am in the city I have the impression that I am in a living room with crystal chandeliers, rugs of velvet, and satin cushions. And when I'm in the favela I have the impression that I'm a useless object, destined to be forever in a garbage dump.

  • ... I classify Sao Paolo this way: The Governor's Palace is the living room. The mayor's office is the dining room and the city is the garden. And the favela is the back yard where they throw the garbage.

  • ... we are slaves to the cost of living.

  • Yes I graduated from high school. Welfare. Temporary work, please. What is my problem? I want to eat.

  • Do not let the bread of the hungry mildew in your larder! Do not let moths eat the poor man's cloak. Do not store the shoes of the barefoot. Do not hoard the money of the needy. Things you possess in too great abundance belong to the poor and not to you. You are the thief who steals from God if you are able to help your neighbor and refuse to do it.

    • Christine de Pisan,
    • "Le livre des trois vertus" (1405), in Charity Cannon Willard, trans., and Madeleine Pelner Cosman, ed., A Medieval Woman's Mirror of Honor ()
  • What shall I give my children? who are poor, / Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land ...

  • And when I pray my prayer of thankfulness, it shall be that I had only poverty to overcome. I have seen him who must overcome wealth.

  • ... it is easy to starve, but it is difficult to stoop.

  • Every problem born of our poverty brought with it a sense of impotence: No escape, no help, anywhere!

    • Rose Pastor Stokes,
    • 1899, in Herbert Stokes and David L. Sterling, eds., "I Belong to the Working Class": The Unfinished Autobiography of Rose Pastor Stokes ()
  • What gets me is you work all your life like a dog, you pay into these government programs. But still, when you need help, the people that's paid to help you they act like it's coming out of their own pocket.

  • For some people, there is no room in their landscape for the needy, the marginal and abandoned unless they are in a painting hanging on the wall of a museum or in a production of Les Misérables. There, the destitute and impoverished are appreciated as art. Their appearances are acceptable as long as they are not alive.

  • Poverty on both a personal and worldwide level is supported by our collective belief in scarcity.

  • ... the willow plate was the only beautiful thing the Larkins owned. It was a blue willow plate, and in its pattern of birds and willows and human figures it held a story that for Janey never grew old. Its color, deep and unchanging, brought to her the promise of blue skies even on the grayest days and of blue oceans even in an arid wasteland.

  • As a nation, we take great pride in rushing in to rescue people all over the world after natural disasters or horrific despotic regimes. ... Why is there so little compassion for our own hungry children? Why is a child who goes to school hungry and tired supposed to become superhuman and do amazing things in life? When did we become a nation that turns on its own and looks with suspicion on anyone who needs help? Read the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty again and remember what we once stood for.

  • Come away; poverty's catching.

  • While he himself derived from the hardworking poor, he greatly mistrusted the ragtag and bobtail who lived in the shacks south of the junkyard, suspecting them of the criminality and moral decay to which he might sink, were he in their place.

  • Poverty made me feel weak, as if I were coming down with an awful, debilitating, communicable disease — the disease of being without money. Instead of going to the hospital, you went to the poor farm. The difference was, you never got well at the poor farm.

  • As the twentieth century draws to a close it has become obvious that material yardsticks alone cannot serve as an adequate measure of human well-being. Even as basic an issue as poverty has to be re-examined to take into account the psychological sense of deprivation that makes people feel poor.

  • ... it is impossible to attack the problem of poverty in the industrialized or the developing world effectively unless the extent to which poverty is a women's problem is recognized.

  • Poor people may challenge God. They may challenge the Devil. But when they cry out, Death is the only one of Three that will listen to them.

  • And one day you find yourself entangled — enmeshed — pinioned in the seaweed of a Black Ghetto. ... Milling around like live fish in a basket. Those at the bottom crushed into a sort of stupid apathy by the weight of those on top. Those on top leaping, leaping; leaping to scale the sides; to get out.

    • Marita Bonner,
    • "On Being Young--A Woman--and Colored" (1925), Frye Street and Environs ()
  • They always said, 'Pull yourself up by your bootstrap.' So we did. And what happened? First they snatched the strap, and then they took the boot.

  • The United States of America is the richest country in the world; yet we're the worst at taking care of poor people.

  • The horse on the treadmill may be very discontented, but he is not disposed to tell his troubles, for he cannot stop to talk.

  • If we keep asking questions maybe, just maybe, we will be able to find out why there is poverty ... and why we now are on the verge of world war.

  • We live in the richest country in the world. There's plenty and to spare for no man, woman, or child to be in want. And in addition to this our country was founded on what should have been a great, true principle — the freedom, equality, and rights of each individual. Huh! And what has come of that start? There are corporations worth billions of dollars — and hundreds of thousands of people who don't get to eat.

  • People like to think that nobody else can learn what they have learned. Now, that's just not true, but you can make it true by making it hard for people who don't know how to do a thing to learn how that thing is done.

  • ... poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes. Analogically, heat is a result of active processes; it has causes. But cold is not the result of any processes; it is only the absence of heat. Just so, the great cold of poverty and economic stagnation is merely the absence of economic development.

  • The mothers’ pension bill is of special interest to women, and the human side of it as well as the economic value it possesses is sweeping the continent as a great wave. A moment’s consideration will convince any unprejudiced mind that it is far better for the state to support the mother and fatherless children and keep them together than for the children to be left to run the streets without care or control and thus soon become criminals, or for the children to be cared for in our institutions at the expense of the state.

  • The [inner-city] rioting was a total enigma to most people — in the wake of all the anti-poverty legislative gifts. But poor people were neither receiving the money directly nor truly influencing how it would be spent ... monies said to be for them ... for the most part were getting nowhere near actual poor people.

  • ... the poverty industry has become a veritable fifth estate. Acting as stand-ins for actual poor people, they mediate the politics of poverty with government officials. The fifth estate is a large and ever-growing power bloc that routinely and by whatever means necessary trades off the interests of poor people to advance its own parochial agenda. From the charities fleecing the state and the public, to the champagne fund-raisers charged off to Uncle Sam ... the fix is in.

  • It didn't take too much intelligence to figure out the idiocy of paying thousands of dollars a month to 'shelter' a homeless family instead of paying for a real apartment. Various layers of government blamed one another — but they were setting the rules, not Martians. Taxpayers were bilked and poor people were sacrificed as hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into the sinkholes of the social welfare establishment. Shelters. Soup kitchens. Name it. Nationwide, poverty is big business — as long as you are politically connected.

  • Except to poor people themselves, poverty is megabusiness.

  • The national psyche purged itself from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s in the War on Poverty only to wage war on poor people.

  • Ours is not a nation without food but one of vast, embarrassing abundance. The issue of individual families' poverty could not be solved by returning them to the stone age of breadlines. Establishing institutionalized begging sites was never a solution. It wasn't food that was missing. Poor people lacked the normal means of access: money.

  • Charities that purport to represent poor people abuse the public trust in an endless quest for larger budgets, career advancement, and political power ...

  • As the misery of poor people increased, so did the cacophony of private interests competing for government contracts, foundation grants, donations by individuals and corporations, and tax advantages for the donations to 'correct' their version of the problem. The only people who did not cash in, the only ones absent from the debate in any public way, as ever, were poor.

  • ... the nonprofit service sector has never been richer (in terms of share of the gross national product and jobs), more powerful, or less accountable. It is the only significant power bloc that is essentially unregulated, in spite of the fact that most of its money comes from the government, through either direct service contracts or tax expenditures. ... Taxpayers foot the bill. Poor people suffer the consequences.

  • ... poverty is the number-one killer of children in the United States. Doctors don't say so, at least not in so many words, because poverty isn't a medical affliction — it's an economic and social one. It kills all the same.

  • As the agencies that did cash in [on the welfare business] grew and reinvented themselves, it became apparent that they were in an inherent conflict of interest with poor people. Welfare mothers, for instance, wanted an adequate guaranteed income, which would have rendered many of the activities of the social welfare professionals meaningless. The agencies wanted a guaranteed income, too: for themselves. With the money and power to lobby effectively, they got it.

  • Welfare as we know it cannot be fixed. Tinkering with it for decades has accomplished little of value. Bureaucracies within bureaucracies have bloomed, mutations of a polluted society. Too many contradictory interests compete at the public trough in the name of poor people.

  • It's expensive keeping people poor.

  • ... for the poor the whole world is a self-constituted critic; your smallest action is open to debate. No secret place of your soul is safe from invasion.

  • Poverty is relative, and the lack of food and of the necessities of life is not necessarily a hardship. Spiritual and social ostracism, the invasion of your privacy, are what constitute the pain of poverty.

  • ... poverty is like a pain, dormant and unbearable as long as you don't move about too much. You grow used to it, you end up by paying no attention to it. But once you presume to bring it out in the daylight, it becomes terrifying, you see it at last in all its squalor and you shrink from exposing it to the sun.

  • What is a slum? ... it is something that mostly exists in the imaginations of middle-class do-gooders and bureaucrats: people who do not have to live in them in the first place and do not have to live in what they put up afterwards once they have pulled them all down. One person's slum is another person's community.

    • May Hobbs,
    • "Prelude," Born to Struggle ()
  • You've got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body's sermon on how to behave.

  • When you're poor, you grow up fast.

  • Poor and afflicted and oppressed people have faces, and we are required to look squarely into them. We can't love what we won't experience.

  • At last I came to college. I rushed for it with the outstretched arms of youth's aching hunger to give and take of life's deepest, and highest, and I came against the solid wall of the well-fed, well-dressed world — the frigid whitewashed wall of cleanliness. ... How I pinched, and scraped, and starved myself, to save enough to come to college! Every cent of the tuition fee I paid was drops of sweat and blood from underpaid laundry work. And what did I get for it? A crushed spirit, a broken heart, a stinging sense of poverty that I never felt before.

  • Poverty becomes a Jew like a red ribbon on a white horse.

  • Poor people who had escaped from poverty as I had, feared it, hated it and fled from it all their lives. Those born rich could afford to be touched by it.

  • Our society is monstrously disjunctive, at once so efficient in war and so inefficient in caring for the welfare of its members. It is frightening to see people rooting in garbage pails on streets, living in cardboard crates under bridges, while their government wages war. Even when there is an emergency in a household, decent parents do not forget to feed the children.

  • I have two enemies in all the world, / Two twins, inseparably pooled: / The hunger of the hungry and the fullness of the full.

    • Marina Tsvetaeva,
    • "If the Soul Was Born With Pinions" (1918), Swans' Encampment ()
  • O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her!

    • Clare of Assisi,
    • in Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius Brady, eds., Francis and Clare: The Complete Works ()
  • You hear people say Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and you don't even have shoes. You're barefooted. What are you going to pull yourself up by? Our country owes every citizen ... a means of livelihood. Not a handout, but a way to make it.

  • Children, together with women, constitute 90 percent of all refugee populations on the planet as well as the vast majority of those living in absolute poverty: the 'feminization of poverty' means that children are poor, too, since most parenting is done by mothers.

  • Poverty and contempt generally go hand-in-hand in this world.

  • Being Black and poor is, I think, radically different from being anything else and poor. Poor, to most Blacks, is a state of mind. Those who accept it are poor; those who struggle are middle class.

  • Poverty is a strange and elusive thing. ... I condemn poverty and I advocate it; poverty is simple and complex at once; it is a social phenomenon and a personal matter. Poverty is an elusive thing, and a paradoxical one. We need always to be thinking and writing about it, for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.

  • I'm very lonely now, Mary, / For the poor make no new friends.

  • ... the poor have been sent to the front lines of a federal budget deficit reduction war that few other groups were drafted to fight ...

  • It is a spiritually impoverished nation that permits infants and children to be the poorest Americans.

  • When you are poor enough, everything has some value.

    • Barbara Ann Porte,
    • "What the Princess Discarded," in Johanna Hurwitz, ed., Birthday Surprises: Ten Great Stories to Unwrap ()
  • ... there are worse things than poverty, though I can't for the moment remember what they are ...

  • It's going to take an act of Congress to deal with poverty and hunger, not only in this country, but throughout the world. We have the resources but we don't have the will.

  • I still can't go over a subway grating without looking down to see if there is some money there.

  • Hope, and fear. Twin forces that tugged at us first in one direction and then in another, and which was the stronger no one could say. Of the latter we never spoke, but it was always with us. Fear, constant companion of the peasant. Hunger, ever at hand to jog his elbow should he relax. Despair, ready to engulf him should he falter. Fear; fear of the dark future; fear of the sharpness of hunger; fear of the blackness of death.

  • That's the definition of poverty. The less choice you have, the poorer you are.

  • Almsgiving tends to perpetuate poverty; aid does away with it once and for all.

  • Popcorn-can cover / screwed to the wall / over a hole / so the cold / can't mouse in.

  • All that autumn of asterity / We wandered over withered fields / Like lost butterflies, / Feeding on half-bowls of rice, / Stealing warmth / From pale cups / of tea.

    • Rose Furuya Hawkins,
    • "Proud Upon an Alien Shore: Japan 1921," in Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mayumi Tsutakawa, and Margarita Donnelly, eds., The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women's Anthology ()
  • A peculiarity of the American historical sensibility allows us to be proud of great-grandfathers (or even grandfathers) who lived in crushing poverty, while the poverty of a father is too close for comfort.

  • Whoever hath shelter, whoever hath store, / Slide the bolt of the grudging door; / Be the poor with us, lest they should die — / Hark, how the wolves of the wind rush by!

  • For a lot of middle-class women in this country, Women's Liberation is a matter of concern. For women on welfare, it's a matter of survival.

  • ... A.F.D.C. is like a super-sexist marriage. You trade in a man for the man. But you can't divorce him if he treats you bad. He can divorce you, of course, cut you off anytime he wants. But in that case, he keeps the kids, not you.

  • That's what a welfare check is: a certificate of blame. And it arrives every month.

  • I don't believe that it's true that the poor will always be with us. I think that kind of pious fatalism is just an excuse for keeping things the way they are.

  • Some cry because there's not enough bread — and some cry because there's not enough cake!

  • Bread, bread, bread! No more preachers, no more politicians, no more lawyers, no more gods, no more heavens, no more promises! Bread!

    • Voltairine de Cleyre,
    • in Paul Avrich, An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre ()
  • People who have escaped from poverty are like old soldiers. In later years they recount the little, amusing incidents that happened infrequently, and conveniently forget the long, unrelieved stretches of misery and boredom.

  • It's a terrible thing to know that you gon be poor all yuh life, no matter how hard you work. You does stop trying after a time. People does see you so and call you lazy. But it ain laziness. It just that you does give up. You does kind of die inside.

  • Poor people are allowed the same dreams as everyone else.

  • Most women in this country are only one man away from welfare.

  • I'm proud to be a hillbilly. ... Some of the proudest people in this country are poor people.

    • Anonymous,
    • woman named Donna, in Kathy Kahn, ed., Hillbilly Women ()
  • Being poor isn't a crime — it just feels like it.

  • ... poverty is not a 'culture' or a character defect: it is a shortage of money.

  • I have trouble understanding why taking a few grand a year in food stamps is somehow magically different than taking trillions as a bailout.

  • Poor people are poor because they lack money. They aren't poor because the're stupid or lazy or malevolent or immoral. They just don't have a great job.

    • Linda Tirado,
    • in Heather Seggel, "No Way to Live, Unless You Have No Other Choice," The Progressive Populist ()