“Cycle of Poverty” Is Just Another Way of Saying “Idiot’s Limbo”

Case in point: This article (“Caught in the cycle of poverty”, Anna Gorman) from the LAT, which is a microcosm of everything that is wrong in US demographic and social policy. It is a story about the “challenges” facing a poverty-stricken African American woman clearly intended to evoke sympathy for her. That didn’t go over well in the readers’ comments section even though the LAT is basically the West Coast equivalent of the liberal/lefty NYT.

Indeed, at first glance, it is difficult to find sympathy for her. Our heroine, Natalie Cole, is a high school dropout who’d popped out two kids by the age of 17 (!). She then popped out another two with her Latino boyfriend. She was asked to write a resume for her job application but never did so. She does not take her medications or turn up for appointed check-ups despite already by the age of 27 being “heavyset” (read: Obese) and suffering from a variety of health ailments. She shoplifts. According to the author, “She wants to provide a better life for her children but seems not to know how.”

On the other hand however we have to bear in mind that LAT readers are fairly intelligent, whereas there is cause to doubt Ms. Cole is even functionally literate. She has most of the correlates of a dull person: Single motherhood; inability to follow simple instructions; obesity; etc. Despite wanting to, she seems unable to get a GED certificate. From the portrait given by the LAT it is hard to imagine her having an IQ of more than 75. No amount of further education or counseling can bestow her with the tools to escape idiot’s limbo. As such, it is obviously unfair to judge Ms. Cole so harshly for her welfare dependency.

Nonetheless, it is also easy to understand the frustration of LAT commentators, many of whom as taxpayers indirectly fund Ms. Cole and her fecund lifestyle. A lifestyle which social services bizarrely, inexplicably encourage. When Ms. Cole thought she had become pregnant with a fifth child (!), she seemed completely nonchalant about it even though she clearly cannot support her present four in decent conditions even after welfare payouts. In China she’d have long since been sterilized. In the US, her counselor told her, “Children are a blessing. You are just gonna have to be stable.” Idiocracy here were come.

Yet as I stressed above, angrily condemning Ms. Cole and others like her is both pointless and arguably even unethical. Why should she be subjected to such spleen just for doing so badly in life’s genetic lottery (born 1 S.D. below the Black IQ average)? From the LAT article, while she may be dull, she does not seem to be a bad person or an uncaring mother. On the other hand, it’s also unfair to ask of productive members of society to subsidize her reproductive successes.

What’s more not only is it unfair but it is also socially ruinous due to its pro-dysgenics nature, given that IQ is about 75% heritable. In this respect her children are the rule, not the exception: “But Peter, sullen and quiet, has already been kicked out of several schools for fighting and was arrested for shooting a BB gun at passing cars. And Destiny, outgoing and affectionate, has trouble keeping up with her classmates.”

(Dysgenics isn’t just an American problem but a problem of the Black community in particular. Most research on the matter seems to indicate that dysgenic trends are stronger among Blacks than Whites, first because low-IQ blacks tend to have more children relative to high-IQ blacks than low-IQ whites to high-IQ whites, second, because the average age of childbirth is lower among blacks so generational change accrues more quickly.)

That said, this isn’t of course a call to cut off all welfare and throw Ms. Cole and Co. onto the streets, as many Republicans would like to do. Nor is it necessary to adopt Chinese policies of coercive sterilization. Equitable solutions follow naturally from a honest appraisal of reality. Namely, Ms. Cole can be granted very generous welfare, for as long as she wishes – on condition that she get sterilized. Everyone should be eligible for this offer but of course it will almost invariably be the right people, like Ms. Cole, who will be taking advantage of it. Essentially, they can be bribed out of the gene pool. Otherwise, idiot’s limbo – or whatever euphemism it will go under – will encompass an ever greater share of the population until we arrive we really are living in a world of Idiocracy.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. yalensis says

    Here is similar story about a white family from Columbus Ohio that cannot pay their children’s medical bills, even though they went to what was supposedly a “charity” hospital.
    In this case, the woman actually has a job, but she only makes $25K (not enough to support a spouse and 3 kids) and cannot afford medical insurance.
    Note the comments under the article, there are a few similarly unkind suggestions that her husband get a vasectomy. Americans have very “Victorian” attitudes about poverty.


    • Why are Victorian attitudes about poverty bad?

      Short-term welfare for newly unemployed is okay, and proper. Using taxpayer money to fund it as a lifestyle with extra bonuses for children who will carry on the tradition is madness.

      • Asbo’s breed less when you give them a generous welfare check and their children have a greater possibility to break out of the cycle.They also create less problems and cost in aggregate less money

        Only problem is that it isn’t “fair” which makes it political problematic.

      • yalensis says

        Why are Victorian attitudes about povery bad?”

        My only possible response to this question is to quote the greatest Victorian of them all: Geoge Bernard Shaw. As Shaw pointed out so wisely, in Pygmalion, the “undeserving poor” have needs no less urgent than those of the “deserving poor”:

        PICKERING. Have you no morals, man?
        DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Can’t afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I mean any harm, you know. But if Liza is going to have a bit out of this, why not me too?
        HIGGINS [troubled] I don’t know what to do, Pickering. There can be no question that as a matter of morals it’s a positive crime to give this chap a farthing. And yet I feel a sort of rough justice in his claim.
        DOOLITTLE. That’s it, Governor. That’s all I say. A father’s heart, as it were.
        PICKERING. Well, I know the feeling; but really it seems hardly right–
        DOOLITTLE. Don’t say that, Governor. Don’t look at it that way. What am I, Governors both? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor: that’s what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he’s up agen middle class morality all the time. If there’s anything going, and I put in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “You’re undeserving; so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow’s that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, cause I’m a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving. What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. I’m playing straight with you. I ain’t pretending to be deserving. I’m undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it; and that’s the truth. Will you take advantage of a man’s nature to do him out of the price of his own daughter what he’s brought up and fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow until she’s growed big enough to be interesting to you two gentlemen? Is five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you; and I leave it to you.
        HIGGINS [rising, and going over to Pickering] Pickering: if we were to take this man in hand for three months, he could choose between a seat in the Cabinet and a popular pulpit in Wales.
        PICKERING. What do you say to that, Doolittle?
        DOOLITTLE. Not me, Governor, thank you kindly. I’ve heard all the preachers and all the prime ministers–for I’m a thinking man and game for politics or religion or social reform same as all the other amusements–and I tell you it’s a dog’s life anyway you look at it. Undeserving poverty is my line. Taking one station in society with another, it’s–it’s–well, it’s the only one that has any ginger in it, to my taste.
        HIGGINS. I suppose we must give him a fiver.
        PICKERING. He’ll make a bad use of it, I’m afraid.
        DOOLITTLE. Not me, Governor, so help me I won’t. Don’t you be afraid that I’ll save it and spare it and live idle on it. There won’t be a penny of it left by Monday: I’ll have to go to work same as if I’d never had it. It won’t pauperize me, you bet. Just one good spree for myself and the missus, giving pleasure to ourselves and employment to others, and satisfaction to you to think it’s not been throwed away. You couldn’t spend it better.
        HIGGINS [taking out his pocket book and coming between Doolittle and the piano] This is irresistible. Let’s give him ten. [He offers two notes to the dustman].

      • Jennifer Hor says

        In this particular case, some bribery is needed. If the fifth pregnancy is not advanced, Natalie Cole could be offered abortion and a one-off financial incentive, separate from what she already gets. If she declines the abortion, then she gets no money. If the pregnancy is advanced, then the gyno or obstetrician could discuss the option of sterilisation after the child’s birth plus a package of a one-off financial incentive and community help, and give her a choice. If she refuses to be sterilised, then no money and no help.

        The help would include teaching Natalie how to cook healthy meals for her family and maybe grow her own vegetables. The children may be having problems at school due to a poor diet and bad nutrition. Natalie’s health problems and low intelligence might also stem from unhealthy diet and eating habits. Growing her own food might teach her some self-discipline, relieve some money problems so she doesn’t shoplift for food and give her some purpose and control over her life. Regular exercise could be worked into the family’s routine.

        I’d assign a social worker to the family to make sure they keep to exercising regularly and eating healthily: changing bad food habits is hard and Natalie and the kids will suffer sugar and salt cravings during the changeover. Once they have established a proper diet and exercise routine and the benefits kick in, Natalie may be ready for lessons in reading and writing, and later job training.

        I understand though that California is in dire financial straits and is cutting out a lot of social services that would help Natalie’s family. Context and history are missing here: did Natalie grow up in South-Central LA? (Home of the crack wars between the Bloods and the Crips in the 1980s, I believe. Rumours abound that the CIA fed cocaine from South America and crack into the area, instigating the fighting that led to the fracturing of the community.) If Natalie were living in Australia, she’d be getting a parenting allowance, assistance with housing and the option of having her children fostered out. Her boyfriend might be getting unemployment benefits or job training assistance. Each state has a Department of Family and Community Services that offers help for struggling families with children. I imagine Canada would offer much the same.

        • She is the perfect citizen for a multi-racial society. She is a useful tool in support of the white genocide project of the anti-white global elites.
          There are solutions to problems like this, but not while their are anti-whites promoting white genocide to every white country.
          Every white country on earth is supposed to become multicultural and multiracial. EVERY white country is expected to end its own race and end its own culture. No one asks that of ANY non-white country.
          Everybody is forced to agree that the final solution to the RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to bring in the third world and assimilate with them.

          Immigration, tolerance, and especially assimilation are being used against the white race.
          This immigration and intermarriage is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries.
          Anti-white is called anti-racist, but it leads to the disappearance of one race and only one race, the white race.

          It is genocide.

          Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.

        • yalensis says

          Jennifer: I agree with your approach. Case Management is the way to go. In one of my past jobs (as a computer programmer), I worked with Mental Health professionals and I gained a HUGE amount of respect for Case Managers and Social Workers. They worked with extremely difficult cases, like 20-something schizophrenics in assisted living programs who needed to learn basic skills like hygiene and grocery shopping.
          Rich people often hire a “life coach” or “life trainer” to help them get through life. Poor people and stupid people need coaching even more, but can’t afford to hire a life coach, hence the government should pay the bill.
          Life is so complicated, even for people with decent mental faculties, each person really requires a Case Manager to help you get through it. And believe me, the tax money would be well spent, but you could never convince the libertarians and Randites to hand over their cash, so don’t even bother trying.

          • Let nature run its course without forcing. How can the evolutionary principle work if we are always thinking about rescuing people.
            The environment of Force and Fraud surrounding the white genocide program is something, I believe, to be most worth overcoming.

            Look closely.

            You have 1. Massive immigration, 2. To white countries only 3. Border laws suspended Coupled with: 4. Forced immigration 5. Racial preference to non-whites 6. Coerced tolerance 7. Socially engineered assimilation/genetic blending

            What is the end result of diversity? Genocide, white genocide.

            • I didn’t know that countries like Thailand, Singapore, South Africa or South Korea are white?

        • She couldn’t afford the first 4 kids either so why is it so important that she doesn’t have a fifth? There is also this assumption that she is stupid or that she can’t read and write. I think that she is read as she could pass the security guard exam. And about intelligence. I doubt she is Einstein but what does make you thing she is an idiot

          • Jennifer Hor says


            Natalie is diabetic as well. There may be tests available to find out if the foetus has anything wrong with it. Maternal diabetes is a risk factor for some horrible conditions like mermaid syndrome (sirenomelia) where the legs are fused together and usually the genitals, anus and pelvic region don’t develop properly either. There was a case a couple of years ago in China where a newborn boy with sirenomelia was found on a hospital step, apparently abandoned, so the hospital staff tended him until he died three weeks later.

            Diabetic mothers also have 200 times the risk non-diabetic mothers have of giving birth to babies with cyclopia and other brain disorders where the brain fails to split properly into two hemispheres and causes defects in face formation as well. Cyclopia is the condition where a baby is born with one eye and a floppy trunk above it instead of two eyes and a nose and cyclopic babies usually die at birth or soon after.

            There have been reports of babies born with cyclopia and sirenomelia in India and Russia recently. They can have different causes, maternal diabetes is not the only cause.

            Suggest you read “Mutants” by Armand Marie Leroy which describes these and other genetic conditions children can be born with and what genetic changes cause them.

            I think Natalie’s diet is also the cause of her dullness as well as her diabetes. Blood glucose spikes might be affecting her energy levels and ability to concentrate and take in information. She might also have a hyperactivity / attention deficit problem. That could also be caused by too much sugar and preservatives in the diet. That’s why I suggested earlier that a change in eating habits and diet would benefit her and her family.

  2. george wells says

    My conclusions similar to the title. After reading several books on intelligence, I concluded that stupid people suffer more. A dumb mother exposes her children to more risk so is liable to be the cause of an early death or accident, etc.
    Its the way nature operates which makes me question the Christian god, but not my relationship with the higher God

  3. Thorfinnsson says

    Shaming those who are irresponsible idiots through no fault of their own may arguably be unfair, but it is socially useful. All people desire esteem, and if irresponsible behavior were shamed there would be less of it–even in the classes least able to refrain from it. This is the key lesson from Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart.

    Also, what is wrong with compulsory sterilization? Why is it a right, even an entitlement given welfare policies, to bear children? I realize that compulsory sterilization makes liberals squeamish, but they are the enemy anyway. Compulsory sterilization is cheaper and more effective than the solution proposed by Mr. Karlin, which is in turn reminiscent of the proposals of William Bradford Shockley.

    What if we just sterilized EVERYONE with an IQ under 100? What would society look like in a generation?

    • “What if we just sterilized EVERYONE with an IQ under 100? What would society look like in a generation?”

      Always ask “what can go wrong?” We might have a society with too many smart people who consider themselves too good for the menial, routine jobs that keep society functioning.

      • It is more: Way to few people for society to function.

        You could do it say the bottom 5% but with the really low IQ’s the environment (as in bad luck) starts to dominate

    • 50% of the population is below 100 (that is by the definition of IQ). Both male and female must be fertile so you get obviously a whole lot fewer kids. Add that society doesn’t expect people to have kids and you end up with a TFR of less than 0.3. And society wont be that much smarter as you can compare the people who’s grandparents all scored more than 100 with those for which that isn’t true. You will find that the difference isn’t big

    • This is the key lesson from Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart.

      You’re the second person to specifically recommend it, after Eberstadt. Put on reading list.

      Also, what is wrong with compulsory sterilization?

      Political feasibility? I know my proposal would require massive culture change to merit consideration at higher political levels, but such a change is not impossible since many people already intuitively support it as a good thing (not in public, granted, but in anonymous comments).

      Your proposal will never have the support of half the population, and indeed, will only be strongly supported by a very tiny fraction of cognitive elitists. Hate to venture into Godwin territory but even the Nazis limited sterilization to outright idiots or suffered from genetic illnesses, and did so largely in secrecy because of the program’s controversy. Leaving aside all questions of morality and unforeseen pitfalls of the Scowspi variety, it is completely impractical.

      • A majority thinks they are smarter than average so i do think it is easier than you think to convince half the population. But this seems to assume that it would work as indented. Something i highly doubt.

      • yalensis says

        Nazis did try something like that in early years, but had to back off because of objections from Catholic Church hierarchy.

        • yalensis says

          P.S. If his policy is implemented, can you imagine the heightened sense of anxiety on the part of students the night before the IQ test?

    • Jennifer Hor says


      Pardon my French but your suggestion illustrates the use of a jackhammer to crack open a nut.

      From the 1930s to 1970s, Sweden carried out compulsory sterilisation on over 60,000 people, most of whom were women and many of them teenagers. Many girls were sterilised for no better reason than being rebellious and non-conformist or suspected of being sexually active. Some girls were sterilised for “low intelligence” but how that was determined was often at the whim of individual officials and was based on a knowledge test, on which questions might have chosen out of a hat. Girls suspected of “low intelligence” and recommended for sterilisation might be reported by relatives, teachers, ministers of religion and neighbours, all of whom we might suspect their motives to be subjective, even vindictive, and by politicians probably acting on recommendations of the same.

      During the 1950s, the rate of sterilisation of women actually increased when new child allowance benefits were introduced. In particular, women thought likely to burden the government with child welfare costs were targeted for sterilisation.

      More details about Sweden’s sterilisation program and the eugenics background that informed it can be found at this link:

      Across the border in Norway, children born of liaisons between German soldiers and Norwegian women were often subjected to forced separation from their Norwegian biological families and kept in orphanages, psychological wards, mental asylums and similar institutions where they suffered abuse. People believed that Norwegian women who slept with German soldiers did so because of having “low intelligence”. As Norway also had a compulsory sterilisation policy similar to Sweden’s, it’s possible that some of these German-Norwegian children and their mothers were also forcibly sterilised. To this day, these people still suffer stigmatisation and the Norwegian government does not recognise the mothers as eligibel for war pensions.

      Of course everyone knows the most famous of these German-Norwegian war offspring is the former ABBA singer Annifrid Lyngstad whose mother and grandmother took her to Sweden as a baby to escape the hatred and abuse.

    • Jennifer Hor says

      This is following on from my previous comment about Sweden’s sterilisation policy and Norway’s treatment of children born to Norwegian women and Nazi German soldiers. I was interrupted earlier and had to leave off.

      The point I wanted to make about Sweden’s sterilisation policy was that it wasn’t used for racial hygiene purposes, otherwise teenage boys and girls would have been sterilised in roughly equal proportions. The fact that about 90% of people sterilised were women and the way in which the sterilisation was recommended and done suggest the policy was used to enforce social conformity and to control women’s sexuality. When I think about it, this is not so different from Muslim people’s attempts to control women’s sexuality (and at the same time retain family wealth and maintain status and honour) by marrying them off as teenagers to their cousins, uncles or older male relatives.

      The problem with using compulsory sterilisation on people of “low intelligence” is that “low intelligence” can be defined as whatever the government (or the ruling party, its backers and the lobby groups that fund it) defines it and the scheme ends up being abused. Problems such as poverty, homelessness and violence associated with low-income groups that should be solved with social policies that could actually cost less to implement than the sterilisation scheme remain.

      If you sterilise everyone with <100 IQ levels, you realise it can't be a one-off project, it would have to be done every 10 or 20 years to catch a new generation of people. High-intelligence people can have low-intelligence children. Look at all the ruling families that European and Asian countries have had over the centuries: many of these families were founded by men of superior intelligence and leadership abilities compared with the rest of the population. These men's descendants on the other hand, in spite of having the best education and upbringing their dads could provide, were often incompetent. A classic example is Suleyman the Magnificent aka the Lawgiver who ruled Ottoman Turkey from 1520 to 1566 and who was succeeded by his alcoholic son Selim the Sot as sultan.

      • yalensis says

        @Jennifer: Excellent argument against forced sterilization. Disturbing that we are having this debate.
        Out of clinical curiosity: What does female sterilization actually consist of? Full-on hysterectomy, or do they just snip the fallopian tubes, or what? Either way, it sounds like a major surgical procedure, with possible complications. Since these low-IQ women are presumably poor and unemployed, it goes without saying the government would have to pay for the surgery and any hospital bed time that ensued, so already we are talking tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars (if in American money).
        People need to think about all this before they sign on to the forced-sterilization crusade. Probably cheaper in the long run (even for taxpayers) to just give these troubled families a free apartment, monthly allowance and assign them a case manager who goes to visit them every single day.
        LIke somebody once was quoting as saying, “The main cause of povery is lack of money. The cure for poverty is more money.”

        • Jennifer Hor says

          No idea what exactly was done in Sweden or Norway or other country that had female sterilisation. A Wikipedia article on Fallopian tube surgeries mentions that in the US in the early 20th century, female sterilisation usually meant snipping the fallopian tubes close to the uterus. This would be the option I’d suggest for Natalie if she did not want any more children.

          Hysterectomies probably would have been done on women deemed “mentally ill” or of “low intelligence”. In the 1930s – 1970s, most hysterectomies would have been abdominal and that is major surgery. These days there are more options like laparoscopic or keyhole hysterectomies which are less invasive and involve shorter hospital stays, depending on the nature of the problem that requires hysterectomy.

  4. ***Namely, Ms. Cole can be granted very generous welfare, for as long as she wishes – on condition that she get sterilized. ***

    My suggestion would be to make birth control shots, or contraceptive implants, a condition of ongoing welfare entitlements.

    • Jennifer Hor says


      Of course! Depo-Provera! Why didn’t I think of that? (Whack forehead with palm of hand.) But the implants only last 12 weeks and Natalie Cole must remember to keep her appointments. Her case manager would have to check on her to make sure she’s doing this. One way of doing this would be to time her welfare payments with her appointments; each time she keeps her appointment, she gets paid.

      DP does have side-effects including cervical cancer and osteoporosis the longer it is used. It also seems to make users more susceptible to HIV infection though why this is so is a puzzle. (Perhaps there is psychology involved: if a girl is using DP, she might be more sexually active and thus expose herself to a greater risk of STDs?) Also the history of the use of DP in America is controversial, it has been pushed on poor women and black teenage girls in the past without their consent.

  5. ***One way of doing this would be to time her welfare payments with her appointments; each time she keeps her appointment, she gets paid.***

    Yes, I think you would need to make the implant or birth control shot a condition of ongoing entitlements. Some people may opt out and become pregnant anyway. In that case the govt would need to provide some assistance for the child.

    I wasn’t aware of all those side effects. Another option in the future may be the male contraceptive pill.

  6. Here in NZ, columnist Michael Laws recommended sterilization in yesterdays Sunday Star Times. Laws has previously suggested a financial incentive for some parents to not reproduce.


    • He seems to support coercive sterilization. I don’t. After all, some standards of humane civilization have to be maintained.

      Even that aside, bribes tend to be more effective anyway.

    • This is a stupidity. The best way to force people to behave is for them to have kids. No kids and you will create mayhem.

  7. I think Charles Murray has a better idea. What if we take away social security, food stamp, section 8 housing etc. Instead, we give every adult over the age of 22 $10,000 a year. This would push all the responsibilities, including having kids, on the back of the person. Since everyone gets this money, the ones who mismanaged their money or have lots of kids would suffer. At the same time, society is providing something to keep these folks alive. This has the virtue of turning the morality right side up. The people who are suffering are now to blamed for their own actions. Where as today, society are endlessly blamed for the lots of the poor.

    • Your assumption is that having lots of kids is detrimental to society? Is that true or is it the kind of people who have a lot of kids that is the problem