Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hair of the Dog
All right, I'm obsessed about poverty

As the debate over how to pay for Katrina recovery efforts continue, I'm struck by the number of conservatives who think tax cuts for the rich will do more to aid the poor than the social services needed to overcome the vicious cycle of poverty. So how do they intend to pay for aid to the needy? By cutting programs aimed at assisting the poor? Perhaps only poor people hit by natural disasters really deserve our help? I guess everyone else chooses to live in poverty just as they chose to not evacate.

I confess that I'm an unabashed liberal, who refuses to run from the label--indeed glories in it. That means that I do think "throwing money" at problems can indeed be the answer. Granted programs need to proven effective or be dumped and replaced with others. The only group of people this nation has consistently funded at respectable levels are the elderly--which is the only group to see dramatic changes in the extent of poverty.

I am reminded of a survey given to social workers in south Georgia in the 1970s regarding the causes of poverty. Out of the very long list of factors, "lack of money" was not an option.
It is a real shame it took Katrina to make this nation aware of the consequences of lack of money. The window of opportunity will be small, judging from past "causes of the day." Where are the Democrats? Since they have been relieved of the burden of governing, why not use the time to think creatively about the issue? They may not be able to sell their ideas to the public, but they are not doing very well politically with the tactic of avoiding issues and hoping that the other side screws up.

A big trump card is "national interest." To a large extent, the Cold War made the civils rights movement possible, as we competed for the allegience of darker skinned peoples. Today all over the world people are asking, "How could this have happened in America?" The scenes from New Orleans illumine our hypocrisy in claiming to be role model to the world. It will take more than Karen Hughes to repair our image--it just might take action and sacrifice.


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