Capital and poverty

Long before she was a successful pundit and columnist, Megan McArdle worked for a small nonprofit that helped homeless families.

There, Megan met a woman named “Julia.” At first, Julia was struggling. She was trapped in joblessness and was couch-surfing with friends and family. But through hard work and with a little help, Julia moved to her own apartment and found a promising job with benefits. She seemed to be safely on the path into the middle class.

Then something went wrong.


In this Vision Talk, McArdle explains how the same values and traditions that help Americans survive poverty make it more difficult for them to escape that poverty. Linking the concepts of social and financial capital, she explains how our bank balances have an impact on how our social lives function.

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These new insights won’t put themselves into practice. Struggling Americans need your help.

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Hear what other new voices are saying. Leading voices in Washington, D.C. are talking about opportunity in new and counter-intuitive ways. Michael Strain argues that struggling Americans deserve “more than the minimum wage,”and offers better policy ideas in its place. Arthur Brooks challenges everyone, whatever line of work we’re in, to ask how our job can be a helping profession. And in this popular YouTube playlist, Brooks asks Bill Gates all the big questions about the future of fighting poverty.

Roll up your sleeves. Public policy is very important. But when is the last time you personally gave of yourself to others? Every single one of us can probably afford to dedicate a little more of our time, our talents, or our treasure to the service of people who need our help. Whether through charitable donations or regular volunteering, we have the power to change lives today.