NJ For Change

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poverty In America

DBK writes that he was "criticized the other day by some wingnut who inaugurated his spanking new blog (%%insert gratuitous joke about new spanking blog here%%) by complaining that people are poor because they are "too stupid or lazy to work".

Of course DBK doesn't provide a link to the blog post he quotes, so I assume no such quote exists. It certainly didn’t come from my blog as a reading of my postings will prove.

In his posting, DBK goes on to quote from an article by America's Second Harvest, a food bank network."More than 25 million Americans turned to the nation's largest network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters for meals last year, up 9 percent from 2001." He also writes that based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics: “During the Bush years, it [poverty rate] has grown from 11.7% in his first year to 12.7% in 2004, the last for which we have statistics."

So what is the cause of poverty in America according to DBK? He believes President Bush is to blame, but he never explains why. I’ll explain why President Bush, the U.S. economy and federal spending on anti-poverty programs are not the cause of poverty in our country.

The U.S. economy has been the fastest growing of the major industrialized nations for the past three years and this year the economy is off to a good start, growing at a “robust 4.5 percent pace”. Unemployment is at 4.7 percent. The condition of the U.S. economy is the best in the world and can’t be blamed for people in poverty.

Federal spending on antipoverty programs has increased each year Bush has been president. An article on Harvard Political Review cites a study that found “poverty-relief programs have grown at a 9.2 percent annual rate under President Bush, nearly twice the rate at which they grew during the Clinton administration”.

During Presdient Clinton’s time in office the average proverty rate was 13.3 percent.and during President Bush’s administration the average rate is 12.3 percent. Not tmuch to show for spending an average of 9.2 percent more every year for the past four years.

According to the Harvard Political Review the federal government has “spent trillions of dollars on anti-poverty programs” since Lyndon Johnson began the ”war on poverty” and yet the poverty rate in the U.S. has remained about the same for the past forty years.

In 1966 the poverty rate was 14.7 percent and since then it was ranged from a high of 15.2 percent to a low of 11.1 percent. As the Harvard article concludes:”it is clear that these antipoverty programs did not come close to achieving President Lyndon Johnson's goal of eradicating poverty in America”.

The American people have tried to end poverty with trillions of tax dollars and billions more in charitable donations. We have been generous, but the DBK’s in this country don’t want to give us credit for all that we have given. Rather then admit that the polices and programs championed by the American left have not worked, the DBK’s demonize anyone who advocates change.

But if we really want to end poverty isn’t it time to try some new approaches? There will always be a need for a safety net for those who become ill or disabled and unable to work and of course for the elderly. But these people are in the minority of those in poverty.

As Walter Williams says avoiding poverty is not rocket science. “First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior” and substance abuse.

The vast majority of people remaining in poverty for long periods of time have failed to take responsibility for their own lives. They quit school, don’t work steadily, have children out of wedlock and abuse alcohol and drugs. We know this is what causes poverty, now what can we do to get people to change this destructive behavior?

Let’s dedicate ourselves to helping people change their attitudes and behaviors that inevitably lead to poverty. Treating people as victims and laying the blame on others isn’t going to solve the problem. That road always leads to the same dead end. It’s time to chart a new course. What do you say DBK?
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