Monday, March 14, 2016

Get a job! Part II

Persistent poverty and economic inequality are with us.  Not everyone has a choice about being short at the end of every pay period. Not everyone has a choice about where they live or go to school or even about an adequate diet.  No one chooses poverty, of course; it's done to you.  Skills and a job and maybe a hand up would be a big help for many.

So what goes wrong when we attempt to help?

Every large program is a generalized solution applied to many, and it works for perhaps 80%.

Public education works well for most, perhaps, but a portion of the children are bored to tears and must wait for it to be over before they can do anything meaningful.  It's actually time wasted for them.  Common core and standardized tests serve well enough in most circumstances, but not all.

Public health programs do well enough, perhaps, but they're now managed by insurance companies for profit rather than for efficiency or essential health benefit.  Ever had office visits you didn't need, tests that weren't relevant, or follow-up that wasn't needed?
The poverty rate in the U.S. has not improved
significantly in the fifty years since the
War on Poverty began.

Moving on then to poverty and inequality.

Public assistance, like other programs, serves well for most.  Perhaps.  Then there are those who are trapped by it, or worse, and there are those who abuse and defraud the program's intent.

Building a bigger government agency hasn't given better results.  The War on Poverty, begun in 1964, has had mixed results.  

"For the past 50 years, the government’s annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting. After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President Johnson launched the War on Poverty. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S. How can the government spend so much while poverty remains unchanged?"  ~The Daily Signal

From the Brookings Institute
There are still about 47 million Americans, including 15.5 million children living below the poverty line.  We have seen fifty years of persistent poverty, welfare policies that have encouraged abandonment by fathers, and financial dependence rather than personal advancement.

The questions before us as the election approaches, do we want a 'big government' solution, a privatised solution, a competitive solution, a state rather than federal solution, an austere solution, an incremental solution, ...?  The candidates have offered their various positions, some with greater clarity than others.

Any of them look to have a good plan?  Any appear to understand the problems faced by those living in poverty?

No one chooses poverty; it is done to you.  Do you see a candidate that understands?

In case you missed it, here's Get a job! Part I

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