Arkansas Conservative Stephen Meeks is feeling the burn after telling the world that being poor is a “personal choice.” The Senior Republican Representative took to Twitter last week to remind people that anyone can be a millionaire if they “chose,” according to Raw Story, and the backlash has been ferocious.
“Being poor in America is a personal choice, unless there are mitigating circumstances,” he wrote in a tweet on November 15. “A homeless man can go to school, get a job driving a truck making $70k per year and in 20 years become a millionaire. In America, you can work hard and change your future – if you chose.”
Right away Twitter responded to the comments, slamming Meeks for being “out of touch” and criticizing his math calculations.
“Read your tweet, #StephenMeeks, then read the comments to see if anyone has pointed out the flaws in your hypothesis. Nearly all of them have. In America, you can work hard and still end up homeless thanks to a broken healthcare system & insipid, out of touch #GOP pols like you,” said one Twitter user.
“A person making $70,000 annually would have to save every penny over 20 years in order to be worth 1 million 4 hundred thousand,” pointed out another user. “That means they would have to live without food, shelter, clothing, transportation, Oh, crap, they would have to do without everything.”
Why don't poor people just buy more money?: A Memoir https://t.co/cYay9ZVhV0— jordan (@JordanUhl) November 17, 2018
Related: where are all of these millionaires making 70k a year?— reduced row echelon form (@JamesSharpsteen) November 17, 2018
Meeks deleted the tweet and blocked his account after the roasting, only to unblock his account and try again with over a dozen new tweets defending his position.
I don't disagree. That's not the point I was making. Become a welder, nurse, HVAC, plumber, etc... and the same thing can happen.— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 17, 2018
I personnel knew someone who earned minimum wage, chose to live a humble lifestyle and died with $350k in the bank. https://t.co/7ccl5QaauA
Yes, I understand there can be mitigating circumstances (health, family, etc) that create financial hardship. Yes, I agree everybody needs help. That's not what I'm talking about.— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 17, 2018
For many they may not choose to be poor, but their choices & poor financial habits dictate that. https://t.co/A3JSKu7xmg
After battling back and forth with Twitter users, he re-worded his tweet and posted it again, this time with a YouTube link to back up his theory about poverty and self-made millionaires.
In America anyone who is poor (unless there are mitigating circumstances) can become wealthy.— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 18, 2018
Hear the stories of people who did it at:https://t.co/O4NsDeae3G
Unsurprisingly, Meeks’ constituents and followers weren’t satisfied with the re-worded message.
“In America anyone who is poor (unless there are mitigating circumstances) can become wealthy. What I mean by mitigating circumstances is, being poor.” There, fixed it.— Lauren Pokes (@lauren_pokes) November 18, 2018
The conservative firebrand then went on to tweet about studies involving millionaires and to dispell myths about success in America. He told followers that most millionaires are “self-made” and that it is a myth that wealthy people inherit their money. He also tweeted that discipline is the key to becoming a millionaire.
From the largest study of millionaires:— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 18, 2018
MYTH: Wealthy people get lucky and make risky investments.
TRUTH: Consistency and discipline through investing in a company-sponsored 401(k) is how most millionaires made it.https://t.co/v5CCVuk4aB
He also claimed that “many” millionaires never made more than six figures a year and most came from middle-class income families or below.
Finally, after several days of defending his original tweet, Meeks sent out an apology, saying it wasn’t his intent to offend anyone but to merely point out his belief in the “American dream.”
Yesterday I sent out a poorly worded tweet expressing my belief in the American dream.— Rep. Stephen Meeks (@RepStephenMeeks) November 18, 2018
Based on the responses there are a lot of people who believe the American dream is out of reach. That is something we need to change.
I apologize to anyone I offended that was not my intent.
It doesn’t look like Twitter is letting him off the hook.
“Yesterday I publicly revealed that I loathe the poor and working class. Today I vow to continue to feel that way, but privately.”— Sarshimus P (@snoodmonger) November 18, 2018