Summary of Poverty Isn’t a Lack of Character; It’s a Lack of Cash

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Historian Rutger Bregman makes a stirring argument for a guaranteed basic income – a seemingly radical idea rooted in history. Bregman traces its ideological origins back hundreds of years and presents evidence of a quietly successful 1970s socioeconomic experiment. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this intriguing, at times oversimplified, addition to the conversation about how to address poverty.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the poor tend to make bad choices for their health and finances,
  • Why poverty isn’t the result of flawed character,
  • Where existing antipoverty programs err, and
  • How a guaranteed basic income could benefit all.

About the Speaker

Historian Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists.



Data show that the poor tend to make bad health and financial decisions. Thus, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher interpreted poverty as a “personality defect.” Yet the belief that impoverished people are flawed is wrong.

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