Why would anyone choose to live in poverty, if they had other options?

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Living in a poverty is not an option that people would choose voluntarily. It is a major structural issue. Photo by Timur Weber on Pexels.com

Would you choose to live in poverty if you had the option? Few would. However, according to the Finnish (and many other) government, poverty is an individual’s own choice. This mindset is unfortunately far from reality and lacks any logical thinking. Why would anyone else choose to live in Poverty, if they had other options?

First I need to remind anyone reading this: no one would live on social benefits if a realistic alternative were available. It’s always worth considering these issues personally and challenging our own thought patterns.

Would you live on €640/month in unemployment benefits, or would you go to work? If you wouldn’t live on the benefits on this scenario, then why would anyone voluntarily choose to do so?


Would you casually apply for and get housing allowance when you could manage without? Well, a low-income individual wouldn’t do it for fun, and someone working full hours might have to start claiming livelihood support due to Orpo government’s budget cuts. Would you take housing allowance if you could get by without it?

Would you live on livelihood support, undernourished and without café visits? If you wouldn’t, then why do you imagine others are voluntarily living this way?

Read also: A society based on continuous growth will soon reach its limits – Capitalism simply doesn’t work

Would you rather go to work than be on minimum-level sick leave or rehabilitation benefits? If you would, why do you think those who are ill wouldn’t choose the same?

Read also: Not all unemployed job seekers are capable of work

If you wouldn’t live in poverty, why would anyone else?

There aren’t many people who would prefer to live in poverty and misery rather than sustain themselves. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for everyone. People can’t always control their health or the discriminatory structures they face. No one claims benefits for fun but because they have to.

If you wouldn’t choose to live in poverty yourself, consider why others would make that choice. They likely haven’t chosen it. So if they haven’t chosen it, reason for people being poor is somewhere else than in individuals’ “laziness” or other lazy option given to you by right wing politicians. The problem is structural.

People of colour, as well as people with disabilities, are always discriminated in the job-seekers market. Even with exceptional skills you might not even get an interview because of your name or because of your photo. Some people have limitations like age and some people are discriminated because of their gender. These people really want to work, but they are not even given a chance. Some people want to work but they are not educated enough and can’t afford to re-educate themselves.

These are structural issues. The longer the unemployment goes on, the less these people are wanted to work anywhere. People without limitations and white, heterosexual male are always at advantage on the job market, even without their own merits. That is not fair. Less fair is to blame people who are unemployed and claim that they are the reason for rising debt in many countries, while at the same time the rich people are getting more rich. Ironically, some of them don’t work at all, but when you are rich, nobody cares or thinks that these people are less valuable. Rich unemployed people have human rights, poor unemployed don’t. That is unfortunately seen in global and Finnish politics.

That’s why empathy is crucial in politics. We need to understand people in distress. They haven’t chosen this path, and they don’t deserve cuts. People that feel well are more valuable for countries’ economics than people who are marginalized.

Anna panoksesi keskusteluun!

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