Large organizations cannot end poverty, at least not by themselves. They can’t do it right for the same reasons big public schools cannot correctly raise children. The children each need their own parents who can meet their individual needs, and similarly we need to fight poverty on a local, grassroots level.

We will never find a one-size-fits-all solution for poverty, because none exists. While we can use generally effective methods, only grassroots groups can attack local poverty with the detailed precision required to successfully eliminate it.

For that reason, I believe that the most effective large-scale efforts must focus on helping local anti-poverty organizations, rather than fighting poverty directly.

If you want to join the fight against poverty, I suggest you that you work with small local organizations in your community, rather than just donating to large-scale organizations. If you cannot find any worthy local groups, you can form your own.

If you want to talk about how to fight poverty locally, and about how to find or start a local anti-poverty group, you can join the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and we have members from all over the world.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: Articles by Scott Hughes |

The Daily Times published an article about recent poverty data from the US Census Bureau. I include an excerpt:

More than one in ten Americans, or 36.5 million people, live in poverty in the United States, with children and blacks the worst hit, an annual report by the US Census Bureau showed Tuesday.

According to the report, around 12.8 million children under the age of 18, or around one-third of the poor, existed in 2006 on incomes below the threshold used by the Census Bureau to determine who lives in poverty.

The number of children without health insurance swelled by 700,000 in 2006 compared with the previous year, according to the report, which also showed that the total number of Americans without health coverage had risen by three million to 47 million.

In percentage terms, three times more black people, 24.3 percent, lived in poverty than the 8.2 percent of white people who did, the report showed.

The U.S. Census Bureau releases a similar report every year about poverty with staggering statistics about the millions of Americans in poverty, including the racism involved. Yet, every year our we fail to do anything about it. Year after year we let poverty and racism continue. Passive indignation will not do anything to stop this. We need to take action to put an end to poverty!

Millions of children in the United States live in poverty, of which millions do not have enough food to eat. With children growing up in such horrible conditions, they do not get a fair chance to succeed, which will lead to most of them remaining in poverty. We need to stop the poverty cycle. We need to take action!

The world has more than enough food to feed everyone. We have more houses than homeless families. The fact that hunger, poverty, and homeless continue demonstrates a fatal flaw in the social structure of our society. We need to fix this, or we will not survive.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: Poverty News |

A Poor Mindset

29 August 2007

Today, I read the most interesting article about poverty that I’ve read in a long time. In the recent article, Steven Pearlstein explains the ideas of Charles Karelis in regards to the seemingly counterintuitive behaviors common to poor people. I include an excerpt:

The reason the poor are poor is that they are more likely to not finish school, not work, not save, and get hooked on drugs and alcohol and run afoul of the law. Liberals tend to blame it on history (slavery) or lack of opportunity (poor schools, discrimination), while conservatives blame government (welfare) and personal failings (lack of discipline), but both sides agree that these behaviors are so contrary to self-interest that they must be irrational.

[...]

If you and everyone around you are desperately poor, maybe it’s perfectly rational to think that an extra dollar or two won’t make much of a difference in reducing your misery. Or that you won’t be able to “study” your way out of the ghetto. Or that if you find a $100 bill on the street, maybe it’s logical to blow it on one great night on the town rather than portion it out a dollar a day for 100 days.

On the other hand, maybe the point at which people are most willing to work hard, save and play by the rules isn’t when they are very poor, or very rich, but in the neighborhoods on either side of the point you might call economic sufficiency — a motivational sweet spot that, in statistical terms, might be defined as between 50 percent ($24,000) and 200 percent ($96,000) of median household income. And if that is so, then maybe the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to raise the hopes and expectations of the poor by putting them closer to the goal line.

I highly recommend reading the whole article by Steven Pearlstein. Finally, I got to read an article written outside the bipolarized political partisanship so common to any discussions about political economics. I like how Pearlstein described the partisan ideas of the left and right, and the stale and unproductive debate between them.

In regards to the excerpted portion, I think it did a great job in explaining the mentality that causes poor people to not fight harder to get out of poverty. Unfortunately, poverty arouses feelings of hopelessness and discouragement. With limited opportunity, poor people will not receive the same benefits as more privileged people when they do the same amount of work. For example, working hard at an inner-city public school won’t get a person even close to as much as working hard at a high-class private school. That seems very discouraging.

Of course, this reminds me of the importance of positive role models. Among the many benefits they offer, positive role models show others, namely children, the possibility of success. The existence of positive role models offers children a tangible example of what hard work and dedication can do, which can help replace hopelessness with hope and replace discouragement with motivation.

Of course, poor people, namely children, actually need to have a reasonable route to success. I say reasonable route, because it won’t work if only exceptional children can escape poverty. It needs to apply to the rule, not to the exception.

I suggest offering full student loans to anyone who wants them. These student loans need to completely fund high-quality education, job training, and then job placement, as well as food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare the entire time. Such student loans would offer everyone a viable route to success.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: Aid Reform |

Michael Stetz recently wrote an article about how the housing crisis adds to the poverty picture in the United States. I include an excerpt:

Nationally, more people are losing their homes because of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Wages have been flat. We feel fortunate to pay 3 bucks for a gallon of gas.

A growing number of middle-class people are anxious, they say.

“Poverty is a hot issue,” said Donald Mathis, president of the Community Action Partnership, which represents hundreds of poverty-fighting agencies nationwide.

Mathis points to a recent poll showing more angst among Americans when it comes to poverty.

In a poll taken in June by the Zogby research firm, 55 percent of those responding said they were “very concerned” about poverty. The poll found 58 percent believed poverty was the single-most-important or a top priority facing the nation’s leaders.

The spate of home foreclosures is particularly alarming, Mathis said. Many people feel vulnerable. Poverty is sometimes hidden, invisible. This is not. This could happen to someone down the street, he said.

Regardless of how well the United States can pull through the current housing crisis, I think we have to worry about the underlying problem. In the United States, most hard working people cannot afford houses. The working class simply does not earn enough to afford houses–even though they build them.

For the most part, working class people can only get homes by renting or through mortgages. Despite what the deed may say, when a person has mortgage, the bank really owns the property.

Working class people only get an allowance from the powers that be. When the economy turns sour, the working class loses that allowance.

To fight the underlying problem, we need to make it so working class people own their homes outright, instead of getting swindled by rich, unproductive usurers.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |

Insuring Poor Children

27 August 2007

A recent editorial in the Washington Post explained how the Bush administration has tried to preempt debate about federally sponsored health insurance for children. I include an excerpt:

States were told this month that they will no longer be allowed to enroll children whose families earn above 250 percent of the poverty level unless they can prove that they have managed to cover 95 percent of children below 200 percent of the poverty level and unless they require that children who previously had private health insurance wait a full year without coverage before enrolling in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The debate is a complicated one, since offering coverage for children in higher-earning families risks displacing existing private insurance. But for SCHIP the administration’s income cap is too strict, given variations in the cost of living and the price of health insurance. Its linked coverage target is too hard to reach — few states even come close. A year is too long a time for a child to go uninsured. And the administration’s way of implementing a major policy shift that would affect at least 19 states and the District of Columbia is too highhanded.

[...]

Evidence suggests that families enrolling their children in SCHIP aren’t doing so because it’s more convenient or cheaper than paying the cost of private insurance, but because it’s the only real option they have. The average monthly premium paid by employees for family coverage has risen from $135 in 2000 to $248 in 2006. Meanwhile, the share of companies offering health coverage has dropped — from 66 percent to 61 percent — and coverage is even scarcer at companies that employ a greater number of lower-paid workers.

As long as children go to school, we need to ensure they have access to healthcare as well as food, clothes, and shelter. Without education and those neccessities, the children will likely face poverty when they grow older. In fact, 50% of poor children in the United States remain in poverty their entire lives.

For those who worry about the cost of providing these social services to children, I respond with the suggestion that we use student loans. The student loans can include the costs of quality education, food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare. With a quality education, the child will later earn an income that will allow him or her to pay back the loans while supporting themselves.

For those that worry this will undermine private insurance, I suggest that the children get vouchers that allow them to select a private insurance company. I agree that state-run insurance will undermine the private insurance companies. However, if the state wants to help, I suggest they simply offer vouchers to poor children to buy insurance from private companies.

In the long run, it will cost us more to not insure poor children, because without complete insurance those children may not have the resources to escape poverty.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |

In a recent blog on The Huffington Post, Linda Seger wrote about poverty in the United States.

I don’t like the partisanship of the article. I don’t like seeing this important issue dragged into the hell of bipolar politics.

Nonetheless, I like the way the author of the article personalizes poverty through a second-person narrative, in which she focuses on the working poor. The post really helps a person get into the minds of the working poor and feel their struggle.

Comments Off
 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |
Children suffering from Poverty