As state legislatures convene across the country, proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far in Montana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ® has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.
For all we know, the client in question could be disabled or on medication that makes it difficult for them to wake up easily. They could have worked late at their job and been dead tired. Even if that’s not the case with that particular client, how many more clients does this disgusting dude take pleasure in denying food who do have these issues? And how does the DSS get away with calling people at 7am on a Saturday when it’s illegal for telemarketers to even do that??
This guy works at the Springfield, Mo DSS, a place I myself am all too familiar with (though I no longer live in the area). This only confirms what most people living there have already assumed for years: these social workers do not care about the people in their community who need assistance!
I encourage everyone who cares about the dignity of people in poverty to speak up by contacting the Missouri Department of Social Services about this matter:
Address: 101 Park Central Square, Springfield, MO 65806
Phone:(417) 895-6000Twitter: @MissouriDSS
When we talk disdainfully about poor people buying lobster and steak, or nice phones, or new clothes, we are saying, you are not sorry and ashamed enough. You do not hate your poor existence enough. Because when you are poor, you are supposed to take the help that is never enough and stretch it so you have just enough misery to get by. Because when you are poor you are supposed to eat ramen every day and you are supposed to know that every bite of that nutrition-less soup is your punishment for bad life decisions.
“The IRS turned over to congress most of Lois Lerner’s emails. You rarely hear that in news reports; they turned over most of her emails, including ALL of the emails from the period that congress is most interested in: the months preceding and the months during the last  presidential campaign.
How many of Lois Lerner’s emails have been turned over to the House of Representatives?
The answer is 67,000 emails, but America mostly does not know that because the news media simply doesn’t have the time to add a sentence about those 67,000 emails in their IRS scandal stories.
Another fact rarely included in the news reports of the IRS news scandal is that not one Republican political group that applied for 501c4 status was denied 501c4 status. Not one Republican application was denied. The one political organization that managed to somehow get denied 501c4 status was a liberal organization called Emerge America. For most of the American news media that remains one of the secret facts of the IRS scandal.”
Aren’t the poor comparatively rich? The fallacy of faulty comparison.
By Jay Livingston, PhD
Opponents of government aid to the poor often argue that the poor are not really poor. The evidence they are fond of is often an inappropriate comparison, usually with people in other countries: “Thus we can say that by global standards there are no poor people in the US at all: the entire country is at least middle class or better” (Tim Worstall in Forbes). Sometimes the comparison is with earlier times, as in this quotefrom Heritage’s Robert Rector: “‘Poor’ Americans today are better housed, better fed, and own more property than did the average US citizen throughout much of the 20th Century.”
I parodied this approach in a post a few years ago by using the ridiculous argument that poor people in the US are not really poor and are in fact “better off than Louis XIV because the Sun King didn’t have indoor plumbing.” I mean, I thought the toilet argument was ridiculous. But sure enough, Richard Rahn of the Cato Institute used it in an article last year in the Washington Times, complete with the 17th century portrait of the king above.
Barry Ritholtz at Bloomberg has an ingenious way of showing how meaningless this line of thinking his. He compares today not with centuries past but with centuries to come. Consider our hedge-fund billionaires, with private jets whisking them to their several mansions in different states and countries. Are they well off? Not at all. They are worse off than the poor of 2215.
Think about what the poor will enjoy a few centuries from now that even the 0.01 percent lack today. … “Imagine, they died of cancer and heart disease, had to birth their own babies, and even drove their own cars. How primitive can you get!”
Comparisons with times past or future tell us about progress. They can’t tell us who’s poor today. What makes people rich or poor is what they can buy compared with other people in their own society. And you needn’t sweep your gaze to distant centuries to find inappropriate comparisons. When Marty McFly in “Back to the Future” goes from the ’80s to the ’50s, he feels pretty cool, even though the only great advances he has over kids there seem to be skateboards, Stratocasters, and designer underpants. How would he have felt if in 1985 he could have looked forward thirty years to see the Internet, laptops, and smartphones?
People below the poverty line today do not feel well off just because they have indoor plumbing or color TVs or Internet connections. In the same way, our 1% do not feel poor even though they lack consumer goods that people a few decades from now will take for granted.
After widespread speculation that Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, would be picked as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate, the country learned he had lost out to Mike Pence last week. But Gingrich is still getting a starring role in the Republican National Convention, giving a primetime speech on Wednesday evening.
Poverty up 30.5% for Americans age 18-64 after 48 years of "war on poverty"
After spending $15 trillion, how’s that war on poverty working out? Not so well.
The percentage of 18- to 64-year olds who live below the poverty level has increased 30.5% since 1966, two years after Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We have declared unconditional war on poverty. Our objective is total victory. I believe that 30 years from now Americans will look back upon these 1960s as the time of the great American Breakthrough toward the victory of prosperity over poverty,” said then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
According to a House Budget Committee Report, the federal government spent $799 billion on 92 programs to combat poverty: $100 billion on food aid; $200 billion spent on cash aid; $90 billion on education and job training; $300 billion on health care; and $50 billion on housing, in fiscal year 2012 alone.
According to the Census, there were 26,497,000, or 13.7% of 18- to 64-year olds, living below the poverty level in 2012. In 1966, the same age group reported 10.5% – 11,007,000 people out of 105,241,000 – living below the poverty level.
This means that since 1966 the percentage of 18- to 64-year olds living in poverty has increased 30.5% – from 10.5% to 13.7%. The Census did not report data for this age group in years 1965 and 1964.
The numbers don’t lie. Social welfare programs don’t work.
When you subsidize something, you get more of it. When you subsidize apples, you get more apples. When you subsidize unemployment, you get more unemployment. When you subsidize poverty, guess what. You get more poverty. You can deny this if you’d like. You can demonize those who say it, you can close your eyes and ears and ignore it, you can even pretend it’s not true. But it’s the truth.
Throwing money at poverty doesn’t alleviate poverty. Jobs eliminate poverty.
When the global economic crisis hit in 2008, Iceland suffered terribly—perhaps more than any other country. The savings of 50,000 people were wiped out, plunging Icelanders into debt and placing 25 percent of its homeowners in mortgage default.
Now, less than a decade later, the nation’s economy is booming. And this year it will become the first culturally European country that faced collapse to beat its pre-crisis peak of economic output.
That’s because it took a different approach. Instead of imposing devastating austerity measures and bailing out its banks, Iceland let its banks go bust and focused on social welfare policies. In March, the International Monetary Fund announced that the country had achieved economic recovery“without compromising its welfare model” of universal health care and education.
Iceland allowed those responsible for the crisis — its bankers — to be prosecuted as criminals. Again, a sharp contrast to the United States and elsewhere in Europe, where CEOs escaped punishment.
We know EXACTLY how to end poverty and how much it’ll cost. Let’s stop pretending it’s a mystery.
By Philip N. Cohen, PhD
I don’t have much to add on the “consensus plan” on poverty and mobility produced by the Brookings and American Enterprise institutes, referred to in their launch event as being on “different ends of the ideological spectrum” (can you imagine?). In addition to the report, you might consider the comments byJeff Spross, Brad DeLong, or the three-part series by Matt Bruenig.
My comment is about the increasingly (to me) frustrating description of poverty as something beyond simple comprehension and unreachable by mortal policy. It’s just not. The whole child poverty problem, for example, amounts to $62 billion dollars per year. There are certainly important details to be worked out in how to eliminate it, but the basic idea is pretty clear — you give poor people money. We have plenty of it.
This was obvious yet amazingly not remarked upon in the first 40 minutes of the launch event (which is all I watched). In the opening presentation, by Ron Haskins — for whom I have a well-documenteddistaste — started with a simple chart of official poverty rates (above).
He started with the blue line, poverty for elderly people, and said:
The blue line is probably the nation’s greatest success against poverty. It’s the elderly. And it basically has declined pretty much all the time. It has no relationship to the economy, and there is good research that shows that its cause at least 90% by Social Security. So, government did it, and so Social Security is the reason we’re able to be successful to reduce poverty among the elderly.
And then everyone proceeded to ignore the obvious implication of that: when you give people money, they aren’t poor anymore. The most unintentionally hilarious illustration of this was in the keynote (why?) address from David Brooks (who has definitely been working on relaxing lately, especially when it comes to preparing keynote puff-pieces). He said this, according to my unofficial transcript:
Poverty is a cloud problem and not a clock problem. This is a Karl Popper distinction. He said some problems are clock problems – you can take them apart into individual pieces and fix them. Some problems are cloud problems. You can’t take a cloud apart. It’s a dynamic system that is always interspersed. And Popper said we have a tendency to try to take cloud problems and turn them into clock problems, because it’s just easier for us to think about. But poverty is a cloud problem. … A problem like poverty is too complicated to be contained by any one political philosophy. … So we have to be humble, because it’s so gloomy and so complicated and so cloud-like.
The good news is that for all the complexity of poverty, and all the way it’s a cloud, it offers a political opportunity, especially in a polarized era, because it’s not an either/or issue. … Poverty is an and/and issue, because it takes a zillion things to address it, and some of those things are going to come from the left, and some are going to come from the right. … And if poverty is this mysterious, unknowable, negative spiral-loop that some people find themselves in, then surely the solution is to throw everything we think works at the problem simultaneously, and try in ways we will never understand, to have a positive virtuous cycle. And so there’s not a lot of tradeoffs, there’s just a lot of throwing stuff in. And social science, which is so prevalent in this report, is so valuable in proving what works, but ultimately it has to bow down to human realities – to psychology, to emotion, to reality, and to just the way an emergent system works.
Poverty is only a “mysterious, unknowable, negative spiral-loop” if you specifically ignore the lack of money that is its proximate cause. Sure, spend your whole life wondering about the mysteries of human variation — but could we agree to do that after taking care of people’s basic needs?
I wonder if poverty among the elderly once seemed like a weird, amorphous, confusing problem. I doubt it. But it probably would if we had assumed that the only way to solve elderly poverty was to get children to give their parents more money. Then we would have to worry about the market position of their children, the timing of their births, the complexity of their motivations and relationships, the vagaries of the market, and the folly of youth. Instead, we gave old people money. And now elderly poverty “has declined pretty much all the time” and “it has no relationship to the economy.”
Philip N. Cohen, PhD is a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park.
He is the author of The Family, a sociology of family textbook, and writes the blog Family Inequality. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Social work! I had an aunt that did social work, and she used to go and peek into people’s kitchen closets to see if they had oranges or if they had a chicken in their refrigerators. My mother always said, ‘Why can’t you be a social worker like Auntie Ida?’ I said, 'And peek into people’s refrigerators? Look, mom. I don’t care what people have. Everybody has the right to have oranges. Everybody has the right to have a chicken. I’m not going to be the one to tell them they can’t have.
Irene Irving Paull in the 1930s, criticizing the state of social activism towards the poor [x].
It’s interesting that not much has changed, except for what we consider “luxuries” that the poor do not deserve: replace oranges with soda and chicken with steak, and you get an argument that is still commonly repeated today.
I am constantly getting questions about the kind of jobs that clinical social workers can do (especially near the beginning of their careers). My MSW cohort did a check-in to see where everyone was at 1 year after graduation. Click here to see a list of what they are up to.
According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, Americans are almost evenly split over who is responsible for poverty and whether the poor have it easy or hard. Here are some factoids from the data:
44% think that the government should do more for the needy, even if it means more debt
51% think the government can’t afford to do more for the needy and shouldn’t
45% think that poor people today have it easy
47% think that poor people have it hard
Notice that responses correlate with whether the respondents themselves are rich or poor. A third of the richest Americans think government benefits don’t go far enough, while two-thirds of the poorest think so. As to whether the government should and can do more, 60% of the least economically secure say “yes,” while 62% of the most secure say “no.”