One of the key aspects of human efficiency is making decisions based on facts, data, and nonideological logic. This is a critical aspect of having an efficient government and political system. In this post, we will continue to look at poverty in the U.S.
Since the causes of poverty are sometimes categorized as individual and societal in nature, the solutions can be put into the same categories. The question of where people think we should focus our attention depends a lot on their ideology.
Conservatives often think we should focus on making individuals more responsible for the situation they are in. After all, the people who live in poverty have to survive in the same world and play by the same rules as those who are more successful. The main problems often cited with antipoverty programs are that they penalize families by abruptly withdrawing financial aid when families get ahead and by penalizing two parent families.
Liberals, on the other hand, often focus on the societal causes and solutions to poverty. These include such areas as job creation and raising the minimum wage. Detractors of these solutions point out that the many programs included in the War on Poverty which was started during the Johnson Administration in 1964 have had mixed results given the level of poverty that still exists.
The Obama administration, however, identified some of the long-term benefits of antipoverty programs. These programs include early childhood education, the earned income tax credit, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance.
The issue with the anti-poverty programs is their cost. As pointed out previously, the amount spent per year is difficult to estimate because the programs are administered by a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Usgovernmentspending.com estimated the total 2017 federal, state, and local spent to be $1.127 Trillion, which includes $646 Billion for Medicaid and $481 Billion for other.
Although this money no doubt has a positive impact in helping people who need it most, the total being spent is a strain on the federal debt and taxes paid by the middle class which itself is struggling to make ends meet. From this standpoint, although the main focus in the past has been on societal anti-poverty programs, additional emphasis needs to be put on individual responsibility. This is necessary from the standpoint of poverty but also from the standpoint of crime.
When it comes down to it, both individual and societal tools must be used to fight poverty in this country. In the next post, we will look at some possible solutions to change individual behavior patterns through motivation.
The goal of these posts is to provide the fact-based story behind issues that we are facing in this country. We can no longer allow ideology to make decisions for us when facts and data prove that we should be doing thing differently.
Next: Individual Solutions for Poverty