A balanced view on poverty – something for liberals and conservatives to think about🤔

Liberals too often are reluctant to acknowledge that struggling, despairing people sometimes compound their misfortune by self-medicating or engaging in irresponsible, self-destructive behavior. And conservatives too often want to stop the conversation there, without acknowledging our society’s irresponsible, self-destructive refusal to help children who are otherwise programmed for failure.

Child poverty is an open sore on the American body politic. It is a moral failing for our nation that one-fifth of our children live in poverty, by one common measure.   Nicholas Kristof,  New York Times

No reasonable person can ignore the two positions stated above, but of course they do.  

I am a firm believer that the overwhelming percentage of misfortune that befalls people is because of the poor decisions and choices they make. But, of course, that does not apply to children who are the victims of their parents or more correctly in some cases their breeders. 

I also believe we cannot ignore the problem on the basis of lack of individual responsibility because we all end up paying in the end while the cycle of poverty is perpetuated. 

Fixing childhood poverty means fixing dysfunctional “adults” first and as history shows, that is not easy. To make matters worse these children often grow up to repeat the behavior of their parents. 

The solution cannot be too harsh nor can it merely be throwing more money into what we have been doing for decades. The US poverty rate is now slightly higher than it was ten years ago. 

Who has some creative ideas? 


13 replies »

  1. We will always have the poor, Jesus told us that in the New Testament. Also, if a man does not work, he does not eat. Better paying jobs may not be available in the future. 52% of 2014 college grads are now working in jobs that do not require a degree. The biggest problem I see in 2016 is we all have it too good and are not thankful for what we have. We bitch and complain about people on government assistance, but would you really want to be poor enough to qualify for benefits. A married couple with no kids with income above $20,000 does not qualify for food stamps except in some high cost areas. The average monthly food stamps benefit is $125 per month. There are work requirements for people under 60. I do not think many are living large on government assistance.
    A May 2016 report – Approximately 52.2 million (or 21.3 percent) people in the U.S. participated in major means-tested government assistance programs each month in 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today. Participation rates were highest for Medicaid (15.3 percent) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program (13.4 percent) That means 78.7% of the U.S. are not receiving any government assistance. We may never win the war on poverty, but even our poor are living better than many in this world.


  2. 1. “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
    2. The statistic, ” 20% of children are in poverty” is not true, there is a large amount of evidence which demonstrates this.
    3. Whether the number is 20%, or closer to 10%, yes, we do have a major problem. And many on the left and the right believe it may well get worse. Charles Murray for one foresees millions of jobs disappearing due to robotics (e.g. driverless trucks, artificial intelligence in white collar cubicles, etc.)
    4. What is likely to happen is more federal subsidies to the unemployed, underemployed, don’t-wanna-be employed.


    • But what happened to telegraph operators, buggy makers, telephone operators, blacksmiths, slide rule makers, draftsman, the milkman, toll takers, bank tellers and so many more jobs?

      There is nothing different except maybe the rate of change.


      • During most of the industrial revolution, technology did wipe out jobs, only to have new jobs being created. However, this may be at an end. Or at least, the massive transformation from middle wage jobs to new jobs requiring low skill and paying low wages.

        “There is nothing different except maybe the rate of change.” I hope you are right. But I think you are wrong.


      • Dick… What you’re describing here is the idea of “creative destruction” put forth by Joseph Shumpeter.
        In times gone by, new innovation replaced old industries. New jobs and opportunities replaced them. That was then, but this time around it is different. Hitherto fore, that newly created job was taken by a human but now that displaced job will be done in many cases by machine. Yes, there will be some new opportunities for some to move ahead by acquiring new skills but net-net, there will be fewer jobs available.


      • Regarding Microsoft and Apple, yes, high tech industries will likely thrive. The problem is that what it comes down to is IQ. If you took the average IQ of the employees of those two companies, you would find a large gap between them and the average displaced U.S. worker.

        A person with an average IQ could do quite well in the old economy. The future economy is going to be much different. Microsoft for instance depends heavily on high performing, high IQ, employees from China and India. This is a huge and never ending topic of conversation in the Seattle area where I live. The high tech industries claim that they cannot get enough Americans to do the work necessary to compete globally. Microsoft just this year opened up a large tech center in Vancouver, B.C. because Canada has a much more liberal immigration policy for high tech employees than the U.S.

        The future U.S. economy will be more than ever split into high tech, high paid jobs, and low tech, low paid jobs. The middle is shrinking.


      • I also agree that the future will be split between high paying high tech jobs and low paying low skill jobs. I also think this will be world wide although some countries might only supply the low skill labor and others the educated labor. The difference during our current period in human history is that the world population is growing without major setbacks as wars or plagues. The black plague kill 33% of the population of Europe. World War II kill 3% of the world population out of 2 billion people. In present time with the world population at 7.4 billion, other than a super volcano such as Yellowstone, I can’t see a world wide event the would shift the labor supply in large enough numbers bring back the middle class. You’ll have the service workers and the high tech workers who can fix the machines.


  3. Don’t worry. President Trump will bring back all of the jobs lost to robotics. Trump will deport all of the 1) lazy 2) Mexicans who are taking our jobs (pick #1 or #2). Every one will then have a good job and there will be no more poverty. I know because Donnie promised to do it.


  4. Reading this post made me ask what is the common thread over the past 100 yrs that is changing. The answer was values. America used to have a large religious base, who took pride in their work. Now people do not value life and will do drive by shootings into a crowd. The mafia had more respect than that. People have always used drugs and alcohol to forget their pain but now they use it to make money on the street corner instead of getting jobs and the case can be made that there is more money in drugs than work.

    It seems that every day that there is a new court ruling or a new law that enforces a new standard of PC that is; politically correctness on us. I must give up my rights, values, and views so as not to offend a very small minority of another group. I am not saying that this wrong. One might have predicted that this would happen over time since our founding principle is that all men are created equal. Over time E pluribus unum is losing its meaning. Maybe it’s time to change the national motto to everyman for himself.

    So what does this have to do with poverty? When I was growing up, I did not have one set of parents on my street. Every adult on the street were my parents. If I did something wrong and a neighbor told my parents, the punishment was often worse than if I got caught by my parents. Today it seems like that neighbor is more than likely just to shoot you. Now your personal sense of privilege overrides your neighbor’s rights. My point is that neighbors and the community used to care about each other. We had common language and not always English, we went to a common school, the same churches, and there was no single family households no matter how many parents were home at the time.

    Gun control will never stop a drive by shootings until we can restore value to life. Are people so desperate that they just don’t care anymore? Is prison just the easy way out? If you apply this theory to poverty then how do we get people to care about their own kids and families again and more importantly work to a common sense of community instead of selflessness? Clearly government welfare does not lift someone out of poverty but aid in keeping them there. How do we get a sense of pride back to the poor? Is it with meaningful jobs? How do we help the children not make the same dumb choices that their parents made? How do we get the children to take school seriously with poor adult examples short of taking them away from their parents? Maybe they need to sit in class with their kids re-learning what they should have learned the first time.

    My creative solution is to send these poor people to North Korea for 6 months. They will learn what poor really is and how to work for the collective good. When they come back tell them that they must go to school and learn, don’t do drugs, don’t breed until they can contribute to their community or they are going back to North Korea. Maybe they will work hard to get out of poverty instead of working hard to get their benefits.


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