America’s (Flawed) War on Poverty: The Doomed Current Approach

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I like Banksy

America’s current approach will never end real poverty.

The current approach is too flawed to completely eliminate poverty.  A failure to address educational issues, family concerns, disabilities, and racial disparities demonstrates that the absolute, pre-transfer, income approach is doomed.  The Council of Economic Advisers indicates that the income approach has not enabled these originally poor populations to escape poverty. “About half of the poorest individuals remain in the lowest fifth of the income distribution after 10 and 20 years, and no more than one-fourth make it to one of the top three income quintiles” *.  Those who are born poor die poor.  Alternatives must be investigated.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 33. Print.1


America’s (Flawed) War on Poverty: Financial Problems

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How poverty solutions are enacted is a big issue as well

Financial problems also plague the current poverty measurements as well.  Issues measuring the Consumer Price Index, the index of variation in prices paid by the average consumer on goods and services, understates the real fall in poverty by three percentage points over the last sixty years*.  Additionally, individuals deliberately under report incomes so they can accrue more benefits, hampers administrators allocations*.  This encourages them to become criminals or lazy, rather than working hard to ascend from poverty.  Such a singular emphasis on income results in recipients being able to easily manipulate the system to their own advantage.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 2,8,11, 26,27,33. Print.1

America’s (Flawed) War on Poverty : Logistical Issues

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Systemic oversights have led to failings throughout America’s War on Poverty

This problem is that poverty is based on pre-tax income and cash transfers but not on taxes, tax credits, or non-cash transfers*.  Many programs benefiting the less educated, families headed by single mothers, minorities, and the disabled such as SNAP, EITC, and WIC are not calculated in the current poverty index, unlike Social Security*.  This distinction makes it politically difficult to increase funding for these forgotten programs because increasing funding would not have a measureable impact on poverty.  Therefore, it is politically untenable.

*Council of Economic Advisors. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 8,27 Print.1. 

America’s (Flawed) War on Poverty : Victory Amongst the Elderly

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Social Security and Medicare have insured the elderly are largely shielded from poverty.  Certain racial and socioeconomic demographics have not done as well.

Social Security and Medicare have insured the elderly are shielded from poverty.

The elderly are the only segment of the population whose poverty proportion has been dramatically reduced over the last sixty years.  For those over 65, their poverty rate has fallen from 36.9 percent to just 9.1 percent.  This is less than a fourth of 1959 levels.  Social Security is included in poverty measure for these individuals, buffering them above the poverty line.  It is the main reason why their poverty rate has fallen; if it were not the elderly poverty rate would be 54.7 percent.  By itself, Social Security raises 8.56 percent of all American’s out of poverty*.  Since social security is included as income it is measured in the current poverty index and officials are able to properly evaluate its benefit to the elderly.  This solution has not been applied to the other impoverished demographics, leaving them with higher poverty rates.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 26,27. Print. 

America’s (Flawed) War on Poverty: Systemic Racial and Socioeconomic Failings

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It falls along racial lines, mainly.

Sections of the population have not benefited from America’s War on Poverty

America’s War on Poverty has greatly reduced poverty in the United States; however, some demographics are remaining destitute.  This good news is the official poverty measure has fallen 7.3 percent over the last sixty years; only 15.1 percent of all Americans remain in poverty.  Disturbing trends amongst those remaining in poverty indicate segments of the population are not benefiting proportionally.  One third of all those impoverished have less than a high school education.   Twenty-nine percent of single, female headed households are included in the official poverty measure.  African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans all have a third of their respective population below the poverty line.  Meanwhile, Whites and Asians each have only a tenth of their total population below the poverty line.  Finally, while those with disabilities were not originally indexed almost thirty percent of them are below the poverty line today*.  Due to the inadequacies of the absolute, income approach we do not have national data to fully examine those below the poverty line.  They are all lumped together so we cannot infer any solutions from the poverty data.  All we know is those of lower education, families headed by single mothers, native minorities, and the disabled are disproportionally likely to be poor, indicating that the current anti-poverty program is not ubiquitous successful.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 11. Print.

Ending America’s (Flawed War) on Poverty: Thesis

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Serious issues should be introduced with a light joke

Poverty is a serious, unanswered issue. Lets start with something fun.

Emerging from the shaky growth following the recession from 1960 to 1961,  President Carter launched America’s War on Poverty.  His strategy comprised of “initiatives designed to improve the education, health, skills, jobs, and access to economic resources of those struggling to make ends meet*”.   The primary goal of the War on Poverty was to increase the standard of living of the American people in all dimensions, growing opportunity and strengthening social mobility.  An absolute poverty line was set up and poverty was linked exclusively to income.  As the decades past it became increasingly evident that this solution was not accurately assessing or alleviating poverty.  Shifting away from an absolute, income approach will be essential for the United States to better address poverty in the twenty-first century.  A fully developed relative, post-transfer, basic needs approach, evaluating both income and tangible symptoms, is necessary to liberate America from poverty.

*Council of Economic Advisers. The War on Poverty 50 Year Later: A Progress Report. Washington, DC: United States Government, 2014. 2. Print.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Change: Gay’s Still (Legally) Banned in US Military

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President Obama hailed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 as a civil liberties step forward;  three months later there have been no progress towards friendly integration of gay soldiers into the military.  The unconstitutional policy has still not been officially terminated; the Obama Administration is still in the process of constructing a new system to replace the biased system under which gays are discharged for being gay.  In the original bill did not overturn the policy, actually it said the policy would “remain in effect” until a replacement policy was devised.

How Will The Obama Administration Integrate Gays into the Military?

Since the passing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 key members of the administration have been constructing a new system, under which hopefully gays will not be persecuted against.  In the terms of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 it was specifically outlined the current policy would first be analysed and then a new policy would be drawn up.

This would mitigate concerns of military personal and their families by creating a steady organized process.  The drawback to this planned system is progress comes slowly;  more than two months after the signing of the bill the Obama Administration is only suspected of releasing new policy this week.  It will still be another sixty days after that until the unbiased policy is fully enacted.

Is There Resentment for the Sluggishness of the Administration?

Currently, whenever a military soldier from any of the corps is convicted of being gay they are swiftly removed and quietly discharged.  Openly gay men and women are not permitted to join the  military under even the most dire of circumstances.  There is still bitter grievances from the gay community; they will not be content until the new policy is fully enacted and operational.

Will Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Be Terminated?

It is certain that a new policy will be enacted, it is only a matter of time.  The Obama Administration has followed through on other popular acts, such as The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 whose policy started being put into effect days after being enacted.  President Obama has openly supported the controversial bill, proclaiming “I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!”  The Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, is the other critical policymaker who will create a new unbiased policy.  Gates supports Obama.  Change is coming, the government is simply being careful as they implement this controversial policy so that it sticks and all those who wish to patriotically serve can fight

Why Were Gays Not Permitted To Serve?

The logic of this policy was that gay soldiers would be easily distracted by their fellow soldiers and would be ineffective.  A counterexample to this fallacious logic is the The Sacred Band of Thebes, who were one of the most fierce and successful military units in history; they were completely made up of gay combatants. There has also never been conviction of a United States personal becoming combat ineffective because of whom they have loved.  The opposers of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 were nothing short of paranoid fools.

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