Dec 30, 2014

Scott Armstrong On Poverty

I read with trepidation Alan Jennings op-ed titled “9 things to do to end poverty”. By his own admission he and CALV have failed to “achieve victory” on the very same goal. Common sense would therefore dictate that his advice be greeted with a good deal of skepticism. Rather than deal with his argument point by point it is perhaps wiser to question his premise that his/CALV’s approach to ending poverty works and we just need more of it. What Alan seems not to have learned, after a lifetime of effort, is that in America only the poor can truly save themselves from poverty. If it were otherwise, the fruits of Alan’s and the government’s best intentions, efforts, and investments would be apparent. Sadly, the nation’s approach to ending poverty has failed. Why? Because Alan Jennings and other well intentioned liberals who, with the best of intentions, fashion themselves as champions of the poor, make the faulty presumption that the poor need a savior rather than a goal. With the exception of his fourth point which states that women make poor choices in men, Alan’s op-ed is filled with what society must do for the poor rather than what those in poverty need to do to lift themselves from poverty. The truth is all the white guilt and good intentions won’t change the outcomes of those born into dysfunctional circumstances unless a message of self sufficiency is delivered with the aid. The lesson that waiting for the government or one of its agencies to solve one’s problems and/or resolve personal fiscal situations is an exercise in extended futility has been learned by all except those who fashion themselves has champions of the poor. Alan’s last point perhaps sums up the problem neatly; “Get off the couch. Stop griping and do something about it. Get together with someone with whom you don't agree but with whom you share a common concern. Look for common ground. Agree on a solution. And get to work. Justice shouldn't have to wait.” Mr. Jennings doesn’t hesitate to deliver the message that “the reader/society”” needs to work harder to solve the issue of poverty. Alan’s recipe for success seems to perpetuate dependency by asking only those who don’t need assistance to heed his call for action and imply to those in need that their only hope is outside help. Denying agency to the poor serves the interests of no one other than their ostensible saviors. In admitting failure Alan should recognize the flaw in his/society’s current approach, and then all those who seek to end poverty should look for solutions that actually work.
Scott Armstrong


doug_b said...

In 1964 LBJ created the 'Great Society' The beginnings of institutionalized entitlement programs and the destruction of the family structure. Since the start of the Great Society, we have spend $2,000,000,000,000 (trillion) to eliminate poverty - yet the same percentage of people are still in poverty. We didn't move the needle one millimeter.

In my city we spend $21,000 yr/pupil for government school education. Yet only 50% graduate.

When you subsidize something, you get more of it. We are subsidizing poverty. It pays not to work, and find ways to scam the system.

An obvious solution is jobs. However the POTUS hasn't addressed the fact the black unemployment has skyrocketed since 2008.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Stop the corporate welfare first.
Nothing comes back to the community- not even jobs.
Even people on unemployment pay taxes.

Julian Kern said...

I agree the minimum wage needs to be raised but not to 15 dollars an hour. That is ludicrous. I think the minimum wage needs to be raised over time to about 10 dollars an hour. I think they should raise it as time goes by so it doesn't hurt the smaller businesses.

There needs to be more jobs that support living instead of low paying jobs that are part time.

There also needs to be mixed housing which needs to include low income housing.

There are so many aspects that go into poverty, housing issues, and the graduation rate. Until we as a community come together and realize what is actually causing all of the issues and put common sense into fixing those issues nothing will get solved.