EppsNet Archive: Poverty

Inc.com: How to Defeat Mindset Inequality

Posted by on 1 Mar 2016

Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years

12 Feb 2015 /

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. . . .

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement. . . .

Since 1970 the number of black elected officials in the U.S. has grown to more than 9,000 from fewer than 1,500 and has included big-city mayors, governors, senators and of course a president.

But even as we note this progress, the political gains have not redounded to the black underclass, which by several important measures—including income, academic achievement and employment—has stagnated or lost ground over the past half-century. And while the civil-rights establishment and black political leaders continue to deny it, family structure offers a much more plausible explanation of these outcomes than does residual white racism.

In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

One important lesson of the past half-century is that counterproductive cultural traits can hurt a group more than political clout can help it.


Bad Luck

3 Feb 2015 /

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

— Robert Heinlein

The War on Poverty is 50 Years Old

6 May 2014 /
(Old) War Police Department & Jail

The New York Times has an update from McDowell County, West Virginia, on how the War on Poverty is going after 50 years . . .

Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, McDowell has the lowest median household income, $22,000; the worst childhood obesity rate; and the highest teenage birthrate.

It is also reeling from prescription drug abuse. The death rate from overdoses is more than eight times the national average. Of the 115 babies born in 2011 at Welch Community Hospital, over 40 had been exposed to drugs. . . .

Many in McDowell County acknowledge that depending on government benefits has become a way of life, passed from generation to generation. Nearly 47 percent of personal income in the county is from Social Security, disability insurance, food stamps and other federal programs. . . .

The poverty rate, 50 percent in 1960, declined – partly as a result of federal benefits – to 36 percent in 1970 and to 23.5 percent in 1980. But it soared to nearly 38 percent in 1990. For families with children, it now nears 41 percent.

“Worst childhood obesity rate.” Poverty is different in America. In most countries, poor people aren’t fat.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 9,176 households in McDowell County and the mean (not median) household income is $33,506. Multiply the two together and we get a total annual income for the county of $206 million.

If 47 percent of that income, as the Times article states, comes from federal programs, that’s almost $100 million per year. Since the War on Poverty has been waged for 50 years now, a crude approximation of the total amount of taxpayer money sent to McDowell County would be 50 times $100 million = $5 billion.

Possibly the annual federal contribution was less 50 years ago, even adjusted to 2014 dollars, but we’d also need to account for the fact that the county population at that time was five times higher than it is today. Taking even a small fraction — say, 20 percent — of $5 billion as our approximation, we can say that the War on Poverty has cost at least a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) just for one small county in West Virginia.

Oh, and the people are still living in poverty. Evidently you can’t eliminate poverty just by giving people money.

As David Mamet pointed out in The Secret Knowledge:

There’s a cost for everything. And the ultimate payer of every cost imposed by government is not only the individual member of the mass of taxpayers who does not benefit from the scheme; but likely, also, its intended beneficiaries.

In the case of McDowell County, the intended beneficiaries are being paid to continue making bad decisions with their lives, most notably to continue living in a place where there’s no work and no hope for improvement.


“Creating Jobs” and Other Fallacies

3 Oct 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.

— Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1792)

My fellow Americans —

I’m hearing in the pre-debate analysis that voters are looking for the candidate who’ll help them have a better life.

Speaking as someone who was there at the beginning, I can tell you that helping you have a better life was not America’s original value proposition. Everyone was welcome to come here and try to make a better life for himself and his family — unless he was from Africa or Asia, of course — but there wasn’t what we now call a “safety net.”

If you tried to make it and failed — and a lot of people did — you had to go back where you came from. No guarantees! You tried, you failed, let the next man have a chance.

I still believe that the majority of Americans want a government that gives them the freedom to succeed or fail or their own merits, and not a government that “helps them have a better life.” I don’t believe it’s a large majority, but I still believe it’s a majority.

Politicians over the last 200 years or so have doen a masterful job of convicing Americans that all of the good things in life come from government. As my friend Tom Paine says in the quote above: government takes the credit for everything and the blame for nothing.

If business is booming during my term of office, the credit goes to me and my policies.

If business is bad, it’s because my policies haven’t had a chance to work yet. Or because my opponents obstructed me. Or because the last guy in the job screwed things up so bad that nobody can fix them.

Anyone who thinks about this notion that government is making good things happen sees what a fallacy it is . . .

If President Obama could “create jobs,” give me one good reason why he hasn’t done it. Do you think he wants to run on a record of increased unemployment, increased poverty, increased debt, plummeting net worth . . .?

Please don’t tell me that Republicans in Congress are preventing him from doing it. How would that work? I want to hire a man and a Repubican congressman shows up and stops me from doing it?!

BULLSHIT!

If politicians could “create” jobs, they’d be doing it all the time.

Thomas Jefferson


There Is No Digital Divide

3 Jun 2012 /

We all know poor people are on the wrong side of an uncrossable technological chasm known as the "digital divide." Their lack of iPads and data plans and broadband is just one more way they’re doomed to stay poor right up until they become the shock troops of the zombie apocalypse, am I right?


See You in Hell

19 Feb 2012 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

HA HA HA! And it’s only going to get worse!

These poor illiterate bastards will be stabbing each other for food in a few years!

Unwed mothers are my meal ticket. Keep up the good work, my little darlings!

See you all in Hell . . .


We Need Better Parents

20 Dec 2011 /

Kids can’t do well in school unless their family has a lot of money, according to an op-ed in the New York Times, which goes on to argue that massive intervention by “policy makers” is needed to confront this issue head-on.

Head Start

The authors, Helen Ladd and Edward Fiske, are a husband-and-wife team of academic researchers. Education reform in a nutshell: First thing, let’s kill all the academic researchers.

Helen and Ed cherry-picked the results of a Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study to show that students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts.

But they didn’t actually link to the PISA results, because if they had, people would see that Helen and Ed just ignored the three main findings, which are:

  • Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all.
  • The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socio-economic background. [That seems obvious, given that reading a book with your kid doesn’t cost anything. Can’t afford books? Borrow them from the library.]
  • Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.

Andreas Schleicher, a member of the PISA research team, says that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring. It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.”

Another recent study, by the Center for Public Education, found that parent actions such as monitoring homework, making sure children get to school, rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college.

Doesn’t this seem way too obvious for funded research?

To be sure, the Epps family doesn’t live in a poverty zone, but neither does it cost anything to teach a kid how to incorporate academics into his daily routine, or to review homework every night, or to read a book together.

I don’t think Helen and Ed have any kids of their own. They’re both white, in their 60s, maybe 70s. They’re true believers, ignoring reality and misrepresenting research findings to stake out what they imagine to be the moral high ground.

Listen, Helen and Ed, Ed and Helen: The only thing that matters in education is parents. Kids can be good at anything if that thing is important to them. And since kids are not born knowing what’s important and what isn’t, it’s up to their parents to teach them.

Are low-income parents going to focus their lives on teaching their children the importance of education? Of course not. They’re going to amuse themselves to death with the television. That’s why they’re impoverished in the first place.

Bad parenting is an epidemic in America. That’s okay. Failure is a part of life, even in America. School is a good place to learn that.


I Have No Fears

22 Aug 2010 /

Except aging, death, poverty, diminished capacity, criticism, loss of love and ill health.