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Liberal Democracy

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Heritage Foundation: Blog: Ryan Messmore: Does Advocating Limited Government Mean Abandoning the Poor

There has been a lot of talk about deficit reduction. Which has been helpful and something we need to do and looking at our entitlement programs. And other social insurance programs and how we can make savings and make them work better. I have some suggestions in how we can do that, by accomplishing what they are intended to do. Which is to assist people in poverty as well as cut costs. By moving people out of poverty so they are no longer dependent on them. And no longer need those resources by empowering them to become self-sufficient. 
Since the War on Poverty was launched in 1965, the poverty rate then and now is about the same, 20-25%. But with the African American poverty rate actually falling. So thats been a great sign from 60-25%. But our overall poverty rate being flat with a major drop in poverty in the 1990s. With a booming economy as well as the Welfare to Work Act of 1996. But with the poverty rate spiking back up in the last decade. 
We had a couple of recessions in the last decade, including the Great Recession of 2008 which we are still recovering from. Which tells me with the trillions we’ve spent fighting poverty and the fact that we now have the same poverty rate as we started from, that we haven’t gotten our tax dollars worth and need to rethink how we address poverty in America. So we are more successful in actually moving Americans out of poverty and into the workforce with a good job. 
If you want to make savings and cut back in social insurance, the way to do that without hurting anyone, but actually helping them, as well as the most cost-effective way to accomplish this, is pretty simple. By getting them out of poverty so they are no longer dependent on public assistance and become self-sufficient. And are paying taxes instead of just collecting them, putting money they earned into the system. For people who have a place to live, but aren’t working, its a three step process. 
Temporary financial assistance, so they can support themselves in the short-term. 
Education, support them going back to school or going to school. So they can get themselves the skills that they need to get themselves a good job and become self-sufficient. 
And then job placement, helping them find a good job that will support them and their families. 
For homeless people its a bit more complicated. They will need a temporary place to stay, perhaps health care, perhaps drug rehab, perhaps mental rehab, perhaps education, perhaps job placement and housing placement. For other homeless people, they just might need a temporary place to stay, job placement and housing placement. It really depends on the client that you're trying to help. There’s no silver bullet that can help all people in poverty the same way. 
That's why it takes a grand strategy in fighting poverty, that's designed to empower people to get themselves out of poverty. But that has to be fought on multiple fronts. A strategy to deal with homelessness, hunger, education and job placement. There’s not one type of silver bullet program, private or public that wins this campaign. It has to be a combination of several different things. But that all have the same strategy, empowering people in poverty to get themselves out of poverty.
I wouldn’t call this easy, but the easiest segment of our poverty population, our low-income people who are working, a lot of times full-time jobs or multiple jobs, or even multiple full- time jobs. Again in a lot of cases just to make ends meet. They are the easiest people to address, because they are already working. But perhaps receiving other forms of public assistance, like Food Stamps or public housing. The good thing though, perhaps they just need to go back to school, like at a community college. To get the skills that they need to get one good full-time job. 
Or perhaps low-income workers just need to back to school to get retrained. Because they used to have a good job, but got laid off and their job that they are trained for no longer exists. So now they need a good job, but in a different field. This happens to the unemployed all the time. Or perhaps they are already well-skilled, but just need help finding a good job. This is the population we should really focus on and could move out of poverty again by empowering themselves to do it. And could do this fairly quickly.
The most effective as well as cost-effective to save money on our social insurance programs, is to design them in a way so they empower people to become self-sufficient. So they are no longer on public Aasistance and we wouldn’t have to spend as much money on them in the future.