December 30, 2013

The unrelenting cost of poverty

And this continues to just amaze me.  Study after study shows that poor people struggle with more than just paying their bills.  The impact of poverty on children is documented and clear.  It slows their development and leaves them far behind their peers.
Unrelenting Poverty Leads To 'Desperation' In Philly Schools : NPR: Also, studies show that in some cases, kids living in poverty are more than two years behind their privileged counterparts. They're more likely to have fewer books in the home, have more health problems and miss more school days. Many kids come to school hungry, and then they can't focus and learn.
Closing The 'Word Gap' Between Rich And Poor : NPR

Yet, the conservative response--and even that from so many of my moderate friends--is to shrug and say, "what can we do, we have government programs that don't work."  For those more conservative, the response seems to be to blame the poor for their situation, and the overall approach has been to cut funding for those programs that help kids and the poor the most, and essentially tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps--even if that means doing so with both hands tied behind your back.  That small percentage of the poor who fight their way out become the exceptions that disprove the rule for conservatives.  All of that makes me think that most Americans simply don't like the poor.

But the very real conclusion of these studies is that poverty harms us all.  Every kid who falls behind in school is "at risk" for anti-social behavior, or for behavior that is costly to us--from early pregnancy to drug use or violence.  Those kids who never catch up to their peers equals last productivity and innovation, as well as likely more cost to our infrastructure and safety net.

Yet, the dominant narrative has become (since Reagan) that you can't solve poverty, and you sure as hell can't solve it by throwing money at it.  All that is left is to shrug and suggest that when the poor are better people, we will see it reduced.

I find that unacceptable.  And criminal.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Hey Streak,

I'm not sure if you will find this interesting or not, but a blog I follow that talks about the economic and political aspects of weather stuff has had a series of posts over the last week or so about poverty. Social science is not my area, so I don't know how good or bad it is in a rigorous sense, but I thought I would pass it along in case you might find it thought-provoking: