Friday, November 24, 2006
Note: All references are at the end of the article.
Does anyone want to live among poor people? No, Americans want them to live somewhere else. In spite of universal American sympathy and government entitlement programs inspired by the War on Poverty, poor people have been around since 1776 and no amount of money has changed the number of people in poverty. The government use poor and poverty interchangably, yet the words have different meanings that are very important. Poor is a measure of income as defined by the census bureau and reported by the National Poverty Center Reference 1. They mislabel poor as poverty and vice versa. So what is poverty? Poverty is a culture, a set of values, a common behavior that is characterized by hoplessness, attitude towards work, destructive life styles and anti social behavior, drugs, crime and of course money. Poverty people are also poor but the similarities end there. Homeless people are poverty people not poor people. The vast majority do not want to change their lifestyle. Many well meaning groups have tried and failed. The numbers remain the same. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to distiguish the poor from the poverty. They tend to live in the same areas and go to the same schools. They government does not even try. They count them all together by income.
I was born and raised poor, but I did not know it until I was older. Why? I lived among my peers. My father instilled in me all the positive values associated with most Americans, honesty, a high value on education, dedication by my father to instill a belief that I my life was going to better (financially) than his. It was not until about 5th grade that I discovered that there were kids who lived with far greater financial wealth. But I never felt inferior or envious. I was their equal, and I proved by getting better grades in school. I was poor but not a person of poverty. How do you tell poor people from poverty people? Build two brand new project buildings, like the ones HUD built in the inner cities in the 70s. Put poor people in one and poverty people in the other. Come back 3 years later. The poor people’s project will look the same. The poverty project will be so destroyed that it is ready for demolition. The difference in the two groups of people could not be more stark.
So do we as a society want to get rid of poor people or poverty people? I think we would all say yes if there was a compasionate way to do it. Our society has embraced the war on poverty. We created government programs so we could throw money at the problem. We call them entitlements. 400B annually is spent on entitlements. Reference 2. This does not count charities which are substantial. Homeless people don’t seek entitlements, yet they live on barely nothing. Charities that hand out daily food, clothing and blankets keep them alive.
So how many poor and poverty people are there? Our census Bureau put the number at about 45M out of 300M. But these are poor and poverty people both. One of the defining characteristics about poor people is that most reject government handouts even though they are eligble. These tend to be in rural areas vice inner city projects. But the total number has remained a constant percentage until the change in welfare laws in the mid 90s forced some people to work to get assistance. 45M is now down to 38M. Reference 3
But I ask again who are the poverty people? No one can separate the poor from the poverty. But we do know that half of poor people as measured by the census bureau are transients. They are laid off, temporarily down on their luck people who move on and are replaced by another laid off family. So the numbers each year look the same. But these transients are poor people not poverty people. So the possible poverty people are less than 19M. What else do we know about poverty people. The 35 years of the war on povert has had unintended consequences. “ Last year, the Maryland NAACP released a report concluding that "the ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributory factor to the crime problems we face today."(1) Their conclusion appears to be confirmed by academic research. For example, research by Dr. June O'Neill's and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men.(2)” Reference 4 Also “Holding constant a wide range of variables, including income, education, and urban vs. suburban setting, the study found that a 50 percent increase in the value of AFDC and food stamp payments led to a 43 percent increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births.(7) Likewise, research by Shelley Lundberg and Robert Plotnick of the University of Washington showed that an increase in welfare benefits of $200 per month per family increased the rate of out-of-wedlock births among teenagers by 150 percent.(8)”. Reference 5.
Well, how many poverty and poor children are there? The Census Bureau suggests 13 million. The vast majority live in single parent homes. Why? Sociologists don’t really know why single poverty mothers want babies. They are looking in the wrong place. Women want babies, it is irresponsible men that do not want to accept responsibility for children. They don’t want to accept any responsibility. What are some of the unintended consequences of single parent poor/poverty families? By law they are entitled to more entitlements. Entitlements are geared towards children. Up to a point the more children, the more money. Another disastrous consequence of single parent families is crime. “The number of single-parent families black children from single- parent households are twice as likely to commit crimes as black children from a family where the father is present. Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates.(4)”. Reference 4. We could add others, such as school grades, truancy, gang membership and drop out rates.
What can we conclude? Poverty is persistent. People do care and give a lot of their charity and tax dollars to poverty. But we also see that throwing money at the problem just makes it worse. We as society will be spending 400B a year forever. To put 400B in perspective, that is the size of the defense department’s budget. Yikes!
So how do we solve the problem? First you need to determine where poverty people and poor people come from. Are they created by external forces acting upon non-poor families, the rich and middle class? With the exception of a few homeless people the answer is no. They are born to poor and poverty people, especially unwed mothers. Poverty people live together; they call them neighborhoods. There is no stigma for bringing a child into world that you cannot afford to care for. A woman’s parents are poverty, her friends are poverty and the men who get her pregnant are poverty. There is no one around to say shame. So there are no social or financial penalties for creating a poverty child. Before welfare, unwed mothers were ostracized by society. Their parents were expected to raise the child at their expense. But the migration of poor people into neighborhoods and entitlements have changed that culture.
What can we do? If all poverty and poor people disappeared, poverty would all but cease to exist. There would be no poverty people to create the next generation of poverty people. So how do we get rid of the poor and poverty people? Do we kill them or ship them to a desert island? Of course not. But, what if poverty and poor people stopped having children? Poverty disappears with the death of that generation of poverty and poor people. Since the social penalty is gone how does one incentivize these woman to stop bearing children? Money. How much? What ever it takes. 100B, 200B? The 400B in entitlements does not take into account the cost of crime. The annual cost of police, courts and jails for poverty is 185B. Reference 6. Poverty and poor people cause 90% of all crime. Does that mean we can eliminate 90% of 185B? No, but 100B is a good number. What about societal costs? 450B. Reference 7. 90% due to poverty people, perhaps, but let us be conservative, 300B. We are now up to 800B per year. But there are 38M poverty and poor people. Yes but only half are women. 19 M. So at the end of 50 years we get back 800B per year forever. So what would it take to get 19M women to go on birth control for 50 years? $1,000, $5,000, $10,000? The number is unknown, but 5,000 is a reasonable guess. That is approximately 100B per year. Make it 10,000, that is 200B per year. That is too much! Consider we are currently paying 800B per year for no return. Can we afford 200B a year? Ask any economist he would say you were crazy not to do it. 10 Trillion dollars over the 50 years then a payback of 80B per year? But wait, we don’t have to wait 50 years before the benefits begin. The number of kids on welfare start dropping in year 1. In 15 years crime would begin to drop because of fewer criminals. Plus I counted all poor as poverty. Yes they have children they can’t afford to raise, but instead of seeking entitlements, the family steps in. Parents and Grand parents pay for the kid’s upbringing.
What you say? The numbers are all smoke. I will agree that the numbers are fuzzy, considering the difficulty in counting. But they are the best numbers our government can produce. I did not make them up. Yes, but this is racist. There may be far more whites who are poverty people, but %age wise there is a greater %age of blacks and Hispanics in poverty. Who would howl? Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, the Catholic Church, social workers and democrats who rely on the votes of poor people. 90% of blacks and 67% of Hispanics vote democratic. Poverty is a big business and there are many who profit from it. Let them howl, they had 35 years and produced 0 results.
Why hasn’t anything been done before? Incentivising poor people to stop breeding is politically unspeakable. Why? Do poor people have a right to have kids they cannot afford to raise? Legally, yes and no. Morally, no. No one should have a child they cannot afford to raise and put the bill on their neighbors. That is utterly irresponsible. If this were explained to the American people, they would act emotionally at first, but after the facts sunk in they would agree because the facts are indisputable. Ask any poor person if they want to poor the rest of their life? Give them a way out and they will jump at it. Not 100%, but an overwhelming majority.
Why legally yes and no. This is how screwed up our society is. Can a poverty person adopt a child? Heavens no! You can’t dump a child on someone who hasn’t the money to take care of them. We have very strict rules for adoption. Social workers inspect your home, audit your finances, and screen you psychologically. Yet we have no rules against giving a child to a poverty person through birth. What is the difference? Emotionally a lot. Logically, none. When something illogical is ingrained into the fabric of society the first place to look is religion. Religion is the will of God. Logic is irrelevant. But if you pin down the Catholic Church, the strongest opposing voice, even they will admit that it is a sin to have a child you cannot support. They just never say it in public.
1. National Poverty Center
2004 Poverty Thresholds, Selected Family Types
Single Individual Under 65 years $ 9,827
65 years & older $ 9,060
Single Parent One child $ 13,020
Two children $ 15,219
Two Adults No children $ 12,649
One child $ 15,205
Two children $ 19,157
Three children $ 22,543
2. Wikipedia Examples of Federal AidIn the United States of America, Federal assistance, also known as federal aid, federal benefits, or federal funds, is defined as any federal program, project, service, and activity provided by the US federal government that directly assists or benefits the American public in the areas of education, health, public safety, public welfare, and public works, among others. The assistance, which can reach to over $400 billion dollars annually, is provided by federal government agencies, such as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Health and Human Services, through special programs to recipients.
3. Wikipedia National Income
In the year 2005, there were approximately 113,146,000 households in the United States. 15.73% of all households had annual incomes exceeding $100,000, while another 12.7% fell below the federal poverty threshold.
4. The Cato Institute Last year, the Maryland NAACP released a report concluding that "the ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributory factor to the crime problems we face today."(1) Their conclusion appears to be confirmed by academic research. For example, research by Dr. June O'Neill's and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men.(2)
The number of single-parent families black children from single- parent households are twice as likely to commit crimes as black children from a family where the father is present. Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates.(4)
5. studies is the work done by June O'Neill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Holding constant a wide range of variables, including income, education, and urban vs. suburban setting, the study found that a 50 percent increase in the value of AFDC and foodstamp payments led to a 43 percent increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births.(7) Likewise, research by Shelley Lundberg and Robert Plotnick of the University of Washington showed that an increase in welfare benefits of $200 per month per family increased the rate of out-of-wedlock births among teenagers by 150 percent.(8)
6. Justice Dept.
Federal government spent more than $30 billion on direct expenditures for criminal and civil justice in fiscal year 2003. State governments spent over $61 billion and local governments spent over $93 billion.
7. Violent crime (including drunk driving and arson) accounts for $426 billion annually, and property crime accounts for $24 billion. (Miller, T. R., Cohen, M. A., & Wiersema, B. (1996, February). Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.)