Make Poverty More Comfortable
This is TELL canada goose uk black friday ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin. This month, we, along with many of our colleagues, have been talking a lot about poverty. That’s in large part because 50 years ago this month President Lyndon Johnson declared his war on poverty an ambitious array of programs designed to ease suffering and offer opportunity. So we’ve been talking about how effective or not the war on poverty actually was and what remains to be done. We’re also talking about wealth in other ways. Later this hour, for example, we’ll talk about new information that describes why certain groups are better positioned than others for retirement. That’s our money Canada Goose Outlet canada goose jacket outlet coach.
But first, we continue our conversation about why poverty persists in this wealthy nation, and what, if anything, this country should be doing now to address poverty. So we’ve called upon two scholars with very different perspectives about this. Welcome back. Thanks canada goose black friday sale so much for joining us once again.
MARTIN: And Michael Tanner is senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
MICHAEL TANNER: It’s always a pleasure to be with you.
MARTIN: So, Professor Pimpare, let me start with you because you joined us last week when we talked about poverty. We talked a little bit about the history of these kinds of programs. And I want to jump in to a point canada goose clearance that you made right at the end of our conversation. You said, in some canada goose outlet nyc ways, if you want canada goose outlet store to make people less poor, give them money. So let me start there. Why don’t we just alleviate official canada goose outlet poverty by making people less poor? Transfer enough canada goose outlet in usa Canada Goose sale income or wealth to them, or whatever you want to call it, so that people aren’t poor.
PIMPARE: Well, you know, to some extent I think that we actually do do that and do a fair bit of that. In some ways, canada goose outlet reviews it might be helpful to step back just a little bit from talking about the war on poverty to go back earlier because in some ways the question that I think Michael and I and others have been discussing over the past week is can federal government efforts to reduce poverty actually reduce poverty? And if we look back at the very worst of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, we had a poverty canada goose rate that was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 percent, give or take.
And that’s part of what spurred the creation of Social Security, of unemployment insurance, of ADC, which would become the welfare program, of the right to unionize, importantly. Once we get to the 1950s, we, in fact, start to see poverty declining and declining fairly steadily right through to the 1960s and the war on poverty and great society programs.
MARTIN: So why is anybody still canada goose outlet poor in this country?
PIMPARE: Well, because we do a fair bit to reduce poverty, but we canada goose uk outlet don’t do enough. We cut poverty about in half from where it otherwise would be if we buy canada goose jacket don’t count the effects of those federal programs. It still leaves us with a 16 percent poverty rate at a much higher poverty rate than in other countries that do more.
MARTIN: OK, so, Michael Tanner, what about that? I mean, you heard Professor Pimpare’s point. His point is that we actually do give people money to be less poor, but there’s a certain level of poverty that we at which we just stop.
TANNER: Well, I certainly think there’s something to that. We give a great deal of money to the poor. Last year we spent, at the federal and state level, nearly $1 trillion on 126 separate federal anti poverty programs without making a significant real dent in poverty. Most of the poverty reduction that we’ve seen since the war on poverty began is actually a result of the earned income tax credit and the reduction in the lowest tax rate the 15 percent tax rate down to 10 percent that took place more recently. It is not largely a result of the transfer programs, many of which have very little impact at all.
MARTIN: Why isn’t the earned income tax credit a transfer program by another name?
TANNER: It is. It’s a wage supplement program, if https://www.doloresnet.com you will. And it has a lot of success. But that’s really a Reagan era program. It’s not part of the great the war on the great society or the great society program.
MARTIN: OK, but so what about the basic question? Why is anybody still poor in this country?
TANNER: Well, a lot of behavioral issues affect poverty. The fact is we have a pretty good idea of how to get out of poverty and how to stay out of poverty. Number one is, finish school. If you drop out of school, you’re likely to be poor. If you graduate college, you’re not. Number two is, if you’re a woman and you’re not married, don’t have a baby. You’re about five times more likely to canada goose coats be in poverty if you give birth out of wedlock than if you wait ’til you’ve married.
That’s not a moral judgment, simply an economic one. And number three is jobs. If you only about 3 percent of full time workers are living below the poverty level in this country. So what we really need to do is focus on those things and not simply on giving people enough money to make their poverty more comfortable.
MARTIN: In fact, you write a lot about that. And I presume you mean by that that it gives people incentives to stay poor. Is that a fair way to characterize your views?
TANNER: Well, that’s part of it, but it’s also not enough work on getting people out of poverty in the long run. We tend to measure by inputs or by the fact that we’ve done away with, say, malnutrition in this country to a large extent. But what we’re not doing is allowing people to be fully actualized human beings. To do that means more than simply surviving on a government check. It means having a job and supporting your family and rising in society, which is what we don’t allow people to do today.
MARTIN: If you’re just joining us, we’re talking about solutions to poverty with two scholars with very different perspectives. We’re speaking with Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute that’s who was speaking just now and also Professor Stephen Pimpare of Columbia University. Well, so, Professor Pimpare, what about that? I mean, you heard Mr. Tanner’s argument, which is an argument that you hear a lot of conservatives make, that really it’s the behavioral issues at this point that are the main driver of the consistency of poverty. Your thoughts?
PIMPARE: Sure. It’s an argument we’ve been cheap canada goose hearing since the Middle Ages. It’s an argument that was predominant in the United States in the first Gilded Age in the late 19th century. The problem with it is that it portrays a failure to understand the actual constraints of low income individuals, low income families and low income communities. I mean, to point to the fact that people with college degrees have lower poverty rates than others that’s absolutely true.
But then you need to take a look at what are the obstacles to greater numbers of people moving into college. And if you look at a kid born in the south Bronx in one of the poorest districts and look at the quality of the public schools, already that child has a much harder hill to climb in order to be competitive. There are real life barriers to that sort of simplistic, get an education, get married, don’t have children and get a job sort of equation.
MARTIN: Can I ask a question about that, Michael Tanner? Which is that the federal minimum wage, which is something being discussed very actively at the moment as kind of a policy question, is $7.25 an hour. If you canada goose outlet parka work full time at canada goose outlet jackets that wage, it is really not enough, particularly to support a family. So if some people argue, canada goose factory outlet you know, what message does it send to have so many people working and still be unable to support themselves? Or support themselves well, particularly in neighborhoods where legal jobs are scarce, but illegal drugs, the black market, sort of, in general, offer what seems to be a more attractive lifestyle?
TANNER: Well, I think you raise a very good point there. But only about 5 percent of minimum wage earners are adults with children as the sole breadwinner in their family. In fact, studies have shown that if you raise the minimum wage to, let’s say, $9.50 an hour, you’d only reduce the poverty rate by about 10 percent. So what you’ve really got to do is try and find how you can create more prosperity within a community, how you can create more good jobs within a community because cheap canada goose you also have to deal with the fact that raising the minimum wage is, of course, going to eliminate some of those jobs at the bottom rung of the scale altogether.
MARTIN: Stephen Pimpare, what about you? I mean, what about his argument about the moral hazard? You know, what message it sends to people if you can live without or at least survive.
PIMPARE: Well, the implication yeah.
MARTIN: What message does that send?
PIMPARE: I mean, the implication is that there are through the things that government does there are means by which large numbers of people can live and live well without having to work. And that’s simply not supported by either the scholarly research or, again, by actual encounters with poor people and with poor communities.