Poverty

A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It

A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It:

Between 1974 and 1979, residents of a small Manitoba city were selected to be subjects in a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. For five years, monthly cheques were delivered to the poorest residents of Dauphin, Man. – no strings attached. And for five years, poverty was completely eliminated. The program was dubbed “Mincome” – a neologism of “minimum income” – and it was the first of its kind in North America. It stood out from similar American projects at the time because it didn’t shut out seniors and the disabled from qualification. The project’s original intent was to evaluate if giving cheques to the working poor, enough to top-up their incomes to a living wage, would kill people’s motivation to work. It didn’t. But the Conservative government that took power provincially in 1977 – and federally in 1979 – had no interest in implementing the project more widely. Researchers were told to pack up the project’s records into 1,800 boxes and place them in storage. A final report was never released.

Why Poor People Stay Poor

Why Poor People Stay Poor:

I once lost a whole truck over a few hundred bucks. It had been towed, and when I called the company they told me they’d need a few hundred dollars for the fee. I didn’t have a few hundred dollars. So I told them when I got paid next and that I’d call back then. It was a huge pain in the ass for those days. It was the rainy season, and I wound up walking to work, adding another six miles or so a day to my imaginary pedometer. It was my own fault that I’d been towed, really, and I spent more than a couple hours ruing myself. I finally made it to payday, and when I went to get the truck, they told me that I now owed over a thousand dollars, nearly triple my paycheck. They charged a couple hundred dollars a day in storage fees. I explained that I didn’t have that kind of money, couldn’t even get it. They told me that I had some few months to get it together, including the storage for however long it took me to get it back, or that they’d simply sell it. They would, of course, give me any money above and beyond their fees if they recovered that much. I was working two jobs at the time. Both were part time. Neither paid a hundred bucks a day, much less two. I wound up losing my jobs. So did my husband. We couldn’t get from point A to point B quickly enough, and we showed up to work, late, either soaked to the skin or sweating like pigs one too many times. And with no work, we wound up losing our apartment. It’s amazing what things that are absolute crises for me are simple annoyances for people with money. Anything can make you lose your apartment, because any unexpected problem that pops up, like they do, can set off that Rube Goldberg device.

Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead

Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead:

a study published in June suggests that the things that really make the difference — between prison and college, success and failure, sometimes even life and death — are money and family. … They found that a child’s fate is in many ways fixed at birth — determined by family strength and the parents’ financial status. The kids who got a better start — because their parents were married and working — ended up better off. Most of the poor kids from single-parent families stayed poor.

At this point this a typical story about how poverty self perpetuates. Bad options, bad choices leading to bad results.

Then I got to this part:

The researchers found that more affluent white men in the study reported the highest frequency of drug abuse and binge drinking, yet they still had the most upward mobility.

Great options, bad choices, great results. How do you explain that?

Two Theories of Poverty

Two Theories of Poverty:

Poverty replicates itself in very predictable structural ways.

Not a perfect article but worth a read. I’ve never seen any reason to support the pull-your-pants up view of poverty being a defect in individuals. If it were true the great depression would have been the great slack where a fifth of the nation decided to become lazy and live off free soup.

Krugman on Paul Ryan at CPAC: Actually kind of awesome, in the worst way.

Krugman on Paul Ryan at CPAC: Actually kind of awesome, in the worst way.:

the caricature of Ryan and people like him is that they treat the hardships of poverty as if they were merely psychological, that they talk big about dignity while ignoring the difficulty of getting essentials like food and health care. Well, it’s not a caricature

Worth reading, but also read Ryan’s words. The inability to see the world past their own noses seems to be a problem with politicians in general, but on the right it is stunning.

What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul

Ummm…hierarchy of needs? Have they heard of it?

The Real Poverty Trap

The Real Poverty Trap:

the evidence suggests that welfare-state programs enhance social mobility, thanks to little things like children of the poor having adequate nutrition and medical care. And conversely,of course, when such programs are absent or inadequate, the poor find themselves in a trap they often can’t escape, not because they lack the incentive, but because they lack the resources.

The stats make the article worth a read. Basically, if you make it easier for people to be less poor, people will be less likely to be poor. No surprise there.

What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?

What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?:

What precisely did the income change? Ongoing interviews with both parents and children suggested one variable in particular. The money, which amounted to between one-third and one-quarter of poor families’ income at one point, seemed to improve parenting quality.

That “helps parents be better parents,” she said.

Turns out that giving poor people money helps then escape poverty.

Enemies of the Poor

Enemies of the Poor:

our patchwork, uncoordinated system of antipoverty programs does have the effect of penalizing efforts by lower-income households to improve their position: the more they earn, the fewer benefits they can collect. In effect, these households face very high marginal tax rates. A large fraction, in some cases 80 cents or more, of each additional dollar they earn is clawed back by the government.The question is what we could do to reduce these high effective tax rates.

That’s Friedman’s argument for a negative income tax.

Economist's View: Breadlines Return

Economist's View: Breadlines Return:

The Times’s Patrick McGeehan described a line snaking down Fulton Street in Brooklyn last week, with people waiting to enter a food pantry run by the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger. The line was not an anomaly. Demand at all of New York City’s food pantries and soup kitchens has spiked since federal food stamps were cut

I can’t help but wonder if the point of all the cuts, the drug tests and the rhetoric is just to further humiliate the poor. To grind them down. To have them spend all their time waiting in lines for handouts.

Racial Education Gap Narrowing, Income Education Gap Growing

Racial Education Gap Narrowing, Income Education Gap Growing

pure income inequality has become much bigger and on a variety of different fronts income-linked stratification has become a bigger deal. One way in which this reflects itself is that the “achievement gap” in school between white kids and black kids used to be bigger than the gap between rich and poor.

I remember someone on Bill Maher’s old show making a joke about this. Conservatives looked at the problem of poor black kids having fewer opportunities to get an education than poor white kids and decided to solve the problem by making sure that poor white kids don’t have any opportunities for a good education either.

It would, of course, be absurd to think that the white working class is suffering because they live in ghettos which reflect and reinforce their shiftlessness in addition to the idea that our country is too soft on crime and too focused on rehabilitating prisoners. The last time the neoconservative intellectual movement had to explain something like this it was about poverty concentrated among African-Americans and in urban environments, and this was their answer. But the white working class lives everywhere - in cities and suburbs, in dynamic towns and dying ones, in conservative ones and liberals ones - and they are having a rough economic time of it everywhere. And nobody is arguing that our criminal justice system is too lenient.

It would, of course, be absurd to think that the white working class is suffering because they live in ghettos which reflect and reinforce their shiftlessness in addition to the idea that our country is too soft on crime and too focused on rehabilitating prisoners. The last time the neoconservative intellectual movement had to explain something like this it was about poverty concentrated among African-Americans and in urban environments, and this was their answer. But the white working class lives everywhere - in cities and suburbs, in dynamic towns and dying ones, in conservative ones and liberals ones - and they are having a rough economic time of it everywhere. And nobody is arguing that our criminal justice system is too lenient.

What's Missing From Charles Murray's Diagnosis of the White Working Class?

The reason they want this to be a cultural problem rather than an economic one has everything to do where the economic analysis leads. It leads to policies that are a near 180 from the policies the right has been pushing for the past 50 years. And like any other fanatic movement, when the prescribed policy fails they look for scapegoats and demand we double down on failure.

the electronic devices that Heritage cites are everyday necessities today. Who has iceboxes anymore? Who doesn't need a cell phone to find a job or keep one? Fortunately, these appliances are all significantly cheaper these days, but not so the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs, both of which have risen much faster than inflation, squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike. In a nutshell, poverty today is about a lack of access to public goods, not consumer items.