There is no better way to channel the mind-bending logic of 18th century thinkers on poverty (men who we can assume were not poor themselves, by virtue of the fact that history remembers them) than to simply quote their words. Meet Philippe Hecquet, a well-known French doctor speaking in 1740:
The poor ... are like the shadows in a painting: they provide the necessary contrast.
With a little less lyricism, here is Englishman Arthur Young, in 1771:
Everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor or they will never be industrious.