Posts Tagged ‘War on Poverty’

The problem with a new “war on poverty”

January 16, 2014

It is very difficult to teach poor people the skills and attitudes they would need to rise into the middle class when there may not be a middle class left for them to rise into.

The Other America and our America

May 19, 2010

When Michael Harrington wrote The Other America, the classic 1962 book about poverty in the United States, he defined the problem as the inability of certain groups – inner-city black people, migrant farm workers, Appalachian mountaineers, elderly people on fixed incomes and so on – to share in the expanding prosperity of the nation as a whole.

His book inspired Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, which sought to bring members of poor and disadvantaged groups into the mainstream of the U.S. economy.  Those goals have been the goals of most self-identified liberals ever since.

Whatever good this approach may have done, it has reached a dead end.  It was workable only in a growing economy where a new benefit for one group did not leave anyone else worse off.  We do not have such an economy.  The vast majority of Americans, not just those in pockets of poverty, are affected by the decline of American manufacturing industry, the erosion of good jobs, the stagnation of wages and the growing debt burden