The Intellectual Laziness Behind Attributing Poverty to Laziness

Veritas Culture
4 min readMar 7

Today, there are more than 335 million people living in America.

More than 258 million are over the age of 18, 189 million of whom are between the ages of 18 and 64.

There were 160,138,000 people employed in the United States in January 2023.

Pause. What do these numbers mean? The answer to that question can range from ‘nothing’ to ‘everything’ to ‘it depends’ to, ‘you can make numbers mean whatever you want them to mean’.

Fair. So let’s start with an underlying question that we have been trying to get a reasonable answer to for the better half of a decade.

UNDERLYING QUESTION: Are there enough well-paying jobs in the United States?


💵‘Well-paying’ refers to jobs that pay above poverty rates. Yes, a very low bar.

📠‘Enough’ means to cover the 189 million adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Again, very low bar, especially considering less people are retiring and a lot of jobs go to people under 18.

🎓There are approximately 12 million full-time college students today. And yet, 43 percent of all full-time undergraduate students are employed, working more than 20-hours per week.

🧠None of the above numbers consider physical and neuro abilities, both of which influence the employability of the people behind them.

🍼None of the above numbers consider parents who voluntarily opt-out of the formal workplace, choosing instead to be a full-time parent.

That’s right, there is a lot of additional context that could sway the actual number of working adults or adults who desire to work today. And yet, the underlying question must be asked and answered, not held back by the whataboutism’s that too often get in the way of having meaningful and necessary discussions.

And we need to talk about this question because as it stands today, far too many people are being called lazy for not doing whatever is necessary to get a higher paying job — to do better for themselves and their family. But the question is, again, are there enough well-paying jobs?

Veritas Culture

Two Culture and Diversity-to-Belonging Facilitators and Assessors. Focused on changing hearts and minds so that we can change the culture.