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Giving Compass' Take:
• In this story from the Cato Institute, author Michael D. Tanner discusses the successes of the War on Poverty since Lyndon B. Johnson declared it in 1965. He also discusses reasons that poverty persists, and what we can do differently to eliminate it.
• Tanner's opinion is clearly guided towards government spending policy, but he also discusses "reforming criminal justice, education, and housing policy, encouraging job creation, economic growth, and individual savings." How could individuals and organizations operating in these various areas work together on a broader goal to combat poverty?
• To learn about education as a tool in the War on Poverty, click here.
If our goal was to reduce the material deprivation of poverty, we have undoubtedly been successful. Conservatives often focus on the traditional Census Bureau definition of poverty, which has remained largely stagnant since the 1960s, yet more accurate poverty measures that consider non-cash government benefits and refundable tax credits like the EITC suggest that the real poverty rate is 5-6 percentage points lower than the official version. Perhaps not as successful as we would like, but successful nonetheless.
But is that sufficient?
President Johnson himself called for something more than simply fighting material poverty. The War on Poverty was created not only to meet the “basic needs” of those in poverty, but also to “replace despair with opportunity.” Yet in focusing on the material aspects of poverty, we have neglected the more important aspects of human flourishing.
Rather than create new programs and spend more money, there is a real need to start undoing the harmful legacy of past and current government policies. Reforming criminal justice, education, and housing policy, while encouraging job creation, economic growth, and individual savings will do more to help reduce poverty than anything we are doing today. Taken as a whole, these reforms would give far more poor people the opportunity to partake in the prosperity that they seek.
Read the full article about poverty solutions by Michael D. Tanner at Cato Institute