New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama Comes Up Short in Approach to Poverty

My newest op-ed at Fox News is up. Here is the beginning of it:

Does government do enough to help the poor? Senators McCain and Obama could not be more divided on their approach. Even Obama’s website has a section entitled “poverty” with a large list of new antipoverty programs, while McCain doesn’t.

Yet, this is part of a bigger difference between the two campaigns in whether to single out specific groups for help.

While Obama’s website includes issue headings for “women,” “rural,” “seniors,” and “disabilities,” McCain’s website generally focuses only on broad issues that effect everyone such as “energy,” “education,” and “economic plan.” Both websites have sections on veterans.

On poverty, Obama has a very long list of proposals, . . . .

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Blogger Junkyard Sam said...

Minimum wage jobs give training that will lead to better jobs in the future? Really? Most minimum wage jobs are dead end jobs, and as far as raising minimum wage reducing their "fringe benefits" --- Minimum wagers aren't getting a lot of benefits to begin with, if any at all. And it's certainly not because these companies can't afford it. Who is this nation's #1 employer? WAL-MART? What are these minimum wage jobs? Fast food chains like McDonalds? Starbucks?

Obama's programs are a bandaid. I want to hear about a massive boom of real industrial jobs in this country again. As WAL-MART is #1 employer now, I believe GM was in the early 80s... And those jobs had pensions and benefits and good salaries.

As far as transfer of wealth ---

Truth is - there are people in this country that make TOO MUCH money. --Insert name of any corrupt monopolistic CEO and government manipulator here--. And the argument is "taking away their money would take away their incentive" to do what they do? FINE. These people are destructive forces in our nation anyway. The family behind Wal-Mart, Bill Gates, etc...

McCain = more of the same. But yeah, anyone who thinks things are so great here in the US should go ahead and vote for the guy. I'd argue though they're either in the top income percent -- or else they're just plain ignorant of how much better quality of life is for normal working people in other rich nations...

I have enough friends in other countries to know firsthand... Friends getting 6 months paid maternity leave... While her husband gets at least 3 month notice if his job is going to be laid off. And my friends overseas NEVER worry about losing their health insurance.

America's falling behind. If you're a normal working person you can feel it. You can sense it. And it's there in the numbers. These borrow-and-spend Republicans have rotted the foundation of this country... Trillions in debt and what do we even have? We shipped out all our jobs and now entire industries are foreign owned. (Ever been to economyincrisis.org ?!)

As far as Obama's programs are concerned - I'd like to see him go even FURTHER. And also bring home REAL jobs in this country... We can't even make war machines without parts from China anymore... sheesh.

Bottom line with McCain... If you think Bush has done a good job then yeah, vote for McCain. But you gotta be crazy! =)

7/21/2008 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luckily in McCain's and his co-horts world there are no old,blind or disabled people so everybody can and should provide for themselves. Kinda like they don't have any homosexuals in Iran. Same logic!!! Cheryl

7/21/2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's now clear that "anti-poverty" programs are set up only to benefit liberal politicians in both parties, who can say to the poor, "Look what we're doing for you!" The checks, food stamps or other goodies are tangible proof that the government (and particularly any politician who voted to create and maintain the program) "cares for you." Keeping the poor dependent on government is good politics, if not good policy. If BHO is elected President and the Dems maintain or increase their majority, we'll be seeing a lot more programs that "help" the poor -only in the sense of helping them become and stay dependent on government for their sustenance.

7/21/2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger Ace said...

We should treat our poor as we did the refugies from Cuba and Vietnam, send them to school to learn a trade while we support their family, find them a job to help them start a business - welfare ends in five years. If the poor are making so much from government aid, why are they sleeping in the streets instead of apartments?

7/21/2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear junkyard sam:

1) While some minimum wage jobs are what you describe, for a lot of jobs people have to start off being trained. There are apprenticeships and as you raise the wages that must be paid, fewer of those apprenticeships will be offered. Possibly you must understand that there have been internships. One of my sons interned at ABC, where he was willing to work for free. But ABC has had to start paying minimum wages and the number of people that are getting this training has fallen dramatically. Even getting a job at WalMart or McDonalds establishes an employment history.

2) If it is a band aid, how much money should be spent per family? If $50,000 for a family of three isn't enough, how much would make it more than just a band aid?

3) Bush made the tax system MORE progressive. Meaning that the share of their income paid by high income individual rose relative to those with low incomes.

The top one percent of taxpayers earn 22 percent of income but pay 40 percent of taxes. The bottom 50 percent of people earn 12 percent of income but pay only 3 percent of taxes. The high income people earn more, but their taxes are even much greater than what they earn. What is the right ratio for you?

7/22/2008 12:20 AM  
Blogger LaHeh said...

Wow!!!! I have finally found someone who agrees with me.

I have a unique perspective on the poor because I grew up in a rural midwestern town. Some of the kids that I went to school with had parents who were on welfare.

I'd like to say that the money given to them from the government really helped them, but all that it really did was to meet their basic needs of food and shelter. You are right when you said that if the government helps the poor too much they will become dependent. I saw many people who stayed on disability for twenty years and never got a job to support themselves because they would lose their benefits.

Forcing poor people to work improves their self-esteem, even if it is just a job at Wal-Mart. It gives them more hope than sitting around all day and watching Jerry Springer or going to the Casino.

Sometimes poor people are poor because they make bad decisions. No amount of money will help improve their lives. Some of the poor need to learn how to manage their money, basic job skills, and how to cook, so they don't have to spend their money at McDonalds for food. They need more than a check.

7/22/2008 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Junkyard sam and Ace: What do you think the tax rates would be? Perhaps you should ask your European friends what they pay in taxes. Last I heard that if Obama does everything he wants with social programs, 60% of your pay check goes to taxes. There's no such think as a free lunch, my friend.

7/22/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger J Bartlett said...

A minimum wage job is not a job that should be meant to get through life. It is simply a starting point to establish employment history, gain some basic job skills then move on to bigger and better things.

And who has said that a minimum wage job is a dead end job? There are always chances to get promoted from these positions. To use junkyard sam's example of Starbucks, as I have worked there in the past, one would start out as a barista, get a chance to move up to a supervisor, then assistant manager, manager and perhaps eventually district manager. But to do this one has to show a willingness to work, be productive and a desire to be in the company.

All of the promotions to higher positions add to the resume and show a certain level of responsibility. Future employers would look favorably upon a person that has gone "up the ladder" so to speak. Giving people more government aid does not give them incentive to work hard and earn a decent living. It is just begging them to stay in the system and live off taxpayer dollars, which would probably be better spent on police, roads, military or perhaps lowering the national debt.

One last note, the rich people aren't the "destructive forces" in our nation. It is the rich that provide jobs, not the poor. Taxing rich people more encourages them to hire less people, or hire better qualified people. If minimum wage is set at a certain level, it effectively prices individuals with lower skill sets out of the market. You're not going to hire someone for $10 an hour when that individual's skill set is worth $8 and hour are you? No, you're going to hire someone who is worth $10 an hour.

7/22/2008 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Politics by Jim Wallis for anyone that wants a good perspective of poverty in this country/world and how little this administration has done to tackle this problem.

We cant say that poverty is totally a personal responsibility. If so, you could use the same argument for security... and 9/11 would crush that argument. This is everyone's responsibility - read your bible for proof of this.

Solving the problem of poverty takes leadership and that has been non existent over the past eight years. It simply takes leadership that can not only change policy but inspire 'all' to help in the cause to attack poverty.

On the issue of taxing the Rich..
Well, it is time we (yes I am above the middle class) take one for the team ...heck, we have been riding this happy hour for eight good years...

7/22/2008 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a program that encourages people NOT to have children until they are finished with school and have a decent job. Unwed parenthood is a huge drain on the already drained middle class. Instead, the government makes it easy for people to have kids when they have no means of supporting them (via medicaid, welfare, WIC) thus continuing the cycle of poverty. Poverty will never end if people do not accept some responsibility for their own circumstances.

7/23/2008 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sweet. A overpaid professor sitting in his quiet faculty lounge spouting off how easy the poor have it.

(And this is NOT an endorsement for Obama; merely an aggravation with elitist upper classes who think money is easy and plentiful. Its not about not wanting to work. Its about not having decent paying jobs actually hiring)

7/23/2008 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read all the blogs and everyone makes excellent points. And I think this Country requires a variation of your thoughts.

The fact remains that welfare programs in their current form simply do not work. And contrary to popular belief its not the fault of people utilizing the system. It's the system itself. Human beings, like all animals, will do what is easiest - it's in our genetic make-up and therefore if you give anyone something for nothing most will take it. The issue remains that upper middle-class, college educated individuals believe that all people "think" like they do and that is a false reality. Therefore, our welfare system needs to revolve around working for the compensation, thus motivating people to want more for themselves.

At the same time, this country now has mega corporations which stifles innovation and entrepreneurship. This does indeed require addressing by our government. Corporations are legally set up to make a profit at any cost. The quicker the people of this country understand this the faster reforms can be made. You cannot blame the Corporation - it is just doing its job. Therefore, we need governance from our elected leaders to do things like for example assure CEO pay is only 5 times their highest paid employee's so that the corporation is forced to elevate employee compensation, think long-term vs. short-term and create a level playing field for CEO leadership.

In addition, we must cease the bashing of the successful. Over taxing people and companies will stifle innovation, decrease entrepreneurship and create fewer jobs.

So we need to address how to increase federal funding in a manner that does not affect middle-class and upper-middle class. One suggestion is to adjust the current tax code. A family making $350,000 in Miami, L.A., New York, San Francisco etc. is not rich. They may be upper middle class, but they do not have a lear jet. Let's start talking about real reform and institute a new tax bracket - 1 million. And yes, let's increase that tax rate to 45%, because if your making that level of income you are at the beginning of the definition of "rich".

Get involved in local and national government and rally for 'real' change. And as always, think and fight for solutions that create action. Blaming a Corporation for poverty is crazy and increasing welfare $ benefits is nuts. Whether you know it or not we all "need" those at the corporate top to make things happen so we can have jobs. We need entrepreneurs to have incentive to want to start a company - because not everyone has those skills. Many just need a good job.

Don't bash the hand that feeds - rather demand solution oriented action for reform from your governing leadership.

7/25/2008 1:01 AM  

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