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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One in six children in America lives in poverty and poor and middle-income families are finding it harder to make ends meet, according to a report released on Thursday.

....

The U.S. child poverty rate is roughly twice as high as the rates in Canada and Germany, the report said, and at least six times higher than France, Belgium or Austria.


Full story here:

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010419/ts/health_children_dc.html

--ETurkey
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One in six children in America lives in poverty and poor and middle-income families are finding it harder to make ends meet, according to a report released on Thursday.

....

The U.S. child poverty rate is roughly twice as high as the rates in Canada and Germany, the report said, and at least six times higher than France, Belgium or Austria.



The US also probably has 20 times the rate of millionaires as well. What's your point?

Looks like we got a lot of underachievers in our nation on the other side of the economic spectrum. Tsk tsk.

Study and work harder.
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As a former Peace Corps Volunteer who worked and travelled extensively in Central America, I feel comfortable in stating that Americans do not know what poverty is.

Nevertheless, if these numbers are true, it is not a good situation for a child to grow up in a family that is earning $13K per year. Perhaps the social disorder in low income families such as alcoholism and drug addiction as well as education and self esteem issues, lends itself to the production of more children. If you live in a holler in Kentucky, maybe you end up having five kids as opposed to the family in a Manhattan Hi rise who ends up having one. Perhaps this is what is contributing to the alleged income gap.

I think a child growing up in a poor family is not necessarily at a disadvantage. The disadvantage comes when the child is abused or the parents are drinking drugging, fighting, or absent.

Should the government help children in these situations? I guess the answer is if the benefits of a program would exceed the costs of a program. My bias says it would, though I have not done a study. I think our society could do more to help families break the cycle of violence, abuse and abandonment. And frankly I think that community based charitable and ecumenical organizations could perhaps partner with government to make this happen. As it is communities pretty much sit on their hands while children in their midst are being mistreated. Unless it results in some kind of overt physical harm to the child we do nothing. In the meantime all kinds of emotional and mental abuse is occurring. Children need to be nurtured, encouraged, supported, rewarded, appreciated. In my view, if the natural parents of a child are not able to do that, they should probably be relieved of the responsibility. The costs to society of continued generations of misguided children who have been taught to hate themselves, is too great for us not to intervene.

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It's all about incentives.

http://www.fatherhood.org/articles/wh112800.htm

-Bruce
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The US also probably has 20 times the rate of millionaires as well. What's your point?

Looks like we got a lot of underachievers in our nation on the other side of the economic spectrum. Tsk tsk.


Surely you know, all kinds of problems can potentially arise when there is a large separation between the poor and the rich, when there is a loss of the middle class, and when it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals to escape out of poverty.

I would even go so far to say that one of the reasons that United States and certain Democracies have been able to become so strong economically early on has to do with the fact that there was less separation between classes compared to some of the European countries.

Many third world countries have huge separations between the poor and the rich. In fact, third world countries seemed to be characterized as such, with a very few elite and a very large population who are very poor. We don't want to go there.

Therefore I think we should be concerned about such stats.

I understand the resistance to "easy answers" to the poverty problems. We want to remain a "land of opportunity." I suspect you would agree that opportunity should not come packeted as "handouts", winning the lottery, getting lucky, or winning some injury lawsuit. \If handouts aren't the answer what is?

I would suggest that more permanent solutions have promise. Examples would include the apparently successful and recently implemented retraining for those on welfare (instead of just giving them more money year after year), attempts to make our schools a safer and more academic learning environment (especially inner cities), etc.

The point is, just because some might disagree about what the best solution might be, doesn't mean there isn't a problem worth our serious consideration.
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The US also probably has 20 times the rate of millionaires as well. What's your point?

Looks like we got a lot of underachievers in our nation on the other side of the economic spectrum. Tsk tsk.

Study and work harder.


Thank you for being such a good representative of, "compasionate conservatism." I'm glad to now know what it is all about.

Why don't you tell us how you really feel - Hitler sent under achieving gypsy's to the gas chamber...
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What is the poverty level? Any level that suits you.

http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/pd101999b.html

-Bruce
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And this:

http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/pd102599a.html

The basis for the move is a 1995 report from the National Academy of Sciences that concluded the definition of poverty should change over time and reflect the fact that luxuries of the past have become the necessities of today.
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And this:

http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/pdeco/sept98u.html

However, consumption is more indicative of true standards of living.

For instance, among families defined as poor by the Census, 41 percent own their own homes, 70 percent own a car and 27 percent own two or more, 97 percent have color TVs and three-fourths own VCRs.

Based on ownership of microwave ovens, dishwashers and other consumer durables, inequality has been falling rather than rising, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan argued in an August 28, 1998, speech.

Moreover, yearly variations in consumption are much less than those for income, so looking at consumption patterns tends to eliminate from poverty those people whose incomes are just temporarily low.
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And this:

http://www.cato.org//pubs/pas/pa041.html

Over the past 16 years, a "safety net" has been created
for the disadvantaged and unemployed in our society. Food
stamps, rent subsidies, medical care, and direct income sup-
plements in the form of Aid to Families with Dependent Children
(AFDC) are available to alleviate the worst hardships of pov-
erty. Since 1968 transfer payments to persons have increased
more than sevenfold, to $403 billion; even after adjusting for
inflation, transfer payments have more than doubled in this
period.

---------------------------------

Although these means, retirement, income, unemployment,
and other needs tests may be rationalized on both moral and
budgetary grounds, they have marked adverse effects on the
economic incentives of the poor.

---------------------------------

The relative deterioration in the position of nonwhites
and the low-skilled is not a result of the exceptional economic
performance of whites and the high-skilled, but rather has
occurred in spite of poor white performance. Nevertheless,
although white performance has been discouraging, nonwhite
performance has been even worse.

To those immersed in the political rhetoric of our times,
such a contradiction must appear incredible. To an economist,
however, these results are a fully predictable consequence.
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Bruce,

Thanks for the link to

http://www.fatherhood.org/articles/wh112800.htm

you supplied.

I am pretty sure the "100-hour rule" the article mentioned was never a federal rule. It is the kind of idiotic rule that some of states have chosen to implement. (I am not trying to say there are not some pretty silly federal rules also.)

Back when my volunteer work brought me in more contact with welfare recipients, I know there was no such rule locally. We had a "30 & 1/3 rule" which said that the first $30 plus 1/3 of the amount earned each month above $30 was not used to reduce a welfare grant. I also know the rules differed with nearby states. I remember one family that moved to town because one of the neighboring states, a state that paid lower welfare amounts, sent out a letter to every family receiving welfare telling them how much more they would get in each of the surrounding states if they moved there. (I think they also offered to pay for one-way bus tickets, but that was enough years ago I am not sure.)

Worse than the "100-hour rule" used to be an option available to states to only offer welfare (Aid for Families with Dependent Children) to families with single parents. This meant that if a father could not find a job (If you are younger you might not remember such times, but they did exist.) and he loved his wife and children, the best thing he could do to provide for them was to "abandon" them. I don't know if that option is still available to states, but if it is I would bet some still have it implemented.

I hope "welfare reform" has removed most of these counter-productive rules implemented at a state level.

Good Luck,
Z
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<<What is the poverty level? Any level that suits you.>>>

And conversely, what is "the rich"?

There is a big difference between someone earning $75,000 in New York City vs say North Carolina.


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<<Many third world countries have huge separations between the poor and the rich. In fact, third world countries seemed to be characterized as such, with a very few elite and a very large population who are very poor. We don't want to go there.

Therefore I think we should be concerned about such stats.>>>

Agreed, the "middle class" is what makes America the country that we are. It is crucial to make sure that it thrives.
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<<Looks like we got a lot of underachievers in our nation on the other side of the economic spectrum. Tsk tsk.

Study and work harder. >>>


Well, that is part of it, but not the whole story. A child born addicted to crack has a much harder time of it. A child born to a 13 year old girl is going to have a much harder time of it.

In general, Americans work more hours than Europeans and take far fewer vacations. If anything, those who are parents need to work less and spend more time with their children. Easier said than done in todays economic climate.


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Man I wanted to respond to this post so bad today - now I've got a quiet moment to do it.

This has been a very interesting thread - and some great posts from some folks.

I am of the belief that the, "poverty level," is subjective. If a family of four is living in Palo Alto, California and making $40,000 a year, odds are they are poor. If that same family is living in Sioux City, Iowa they are probably doing all right.

Bruce provided a GREAT link to NCPA which dove into just how poor is poor.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14802930

Taken from this story here are some really interesting statistics on who is, "poor,"

...the reality that four in 10 "poor" households own their own home...

A couple of points here that may paint the picture a little rosier than it is. If a person lives in a trailer and they are making payments on it, they "own their own home." A person living in the mountains of eastern Tennessee in a house their daddy gave to them that doesn't even have plumbing, "owns their own home." That doesn't mean that the home they own is habitable.

ON THE OTHER HAND - many elderly people fall below the, "poverty line," but own their own homes and they are pretty nice. Again, poverty in America is very subjective.

...and nearly 70 percent own a car or truck. More than one-quarter have more than one car or truck.

Again, IMHO very subjective. In America if you don't own a car that runs you are sunk. If you live in a major metropolitian area you've got public transit, but many of the nations poor live in rural areas. Walking to a job or the grocery store is impossible and public transit doesn't exist. What I would be interested to know is of the people that are, "poor," that own cars - how many have liability insurance, inspection, and registration paid up and up to date. Many people who are, "poor," own cars because in America you need to - but they don't even have the most basic legal documents or insurance protection to operate them (just watch Cops for a couple of nights).

Two-thirds have air conditioning

This is REALLY subjective. If you live in Section 8 apartments just about ANYWHERE in America built after 1980 you're going to have air conditioning. When I was a broke college student my cheap ass apartment had air conditioning and my parents didn't. Many poor people live in southern states (which isn't to say there isn't poverty north of the Mason/Dixon line). The reasons for this are vastly lower cost of living, more reliable manual labor opportunities due to fairer weather, and lower utility costs. However you're going to be hard pressed to find any structure south of the Mason Dixon line that doesn't have air condition. As a matter of fact in many states if you live as a renter (and the data above says 6 out of 10 do) and their is an infant in the apartment, if things get over 90 to 95 degrees the landlord needs to take action.

97 percent get cable television and 73 percent own a VCR.

This is an interesting one. I generally believe that folks who are, "poor," shouldn't be paying for cable. HOWEVER there have been several studies done on the spending habits of people on government assistance, including those who really try, and those who milk it for all it's worth. One thing observed is that almost everyone had cable TV. Why? Because they can't afford any other form of entertainment. Now we're educated, when the cable is on the blink or the power goes out we grab books, or newspapers, or magazines to read - these people aren't wired that way (not making excuses - that's the way it is). In their minds if they can't afford to go to a movie, or a ball game, or buy tapes and CD's, they're going to have ONE entertainment luxury - and the all mighty idiot box wins every time. Again, many poor people live in rural areas, going to Radio Shack for a pair of rabbit ears if you live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota means you can get clearer snow on all your channels.

Moreover, almost one-third have an answering machine and 28 percent have a dishwasher.

Answering machine? Come on, I can go to target and buy one for under $20. Dishwashers - again I'll go back to the statement that if 6 in 10 are renters, and these renters are in Section 8 housing, odds are the apartment they are in on Section 8 is going to have a dishwasher. If a dishwasher is a standard for poverty or not - then I must be poor, because my 1964 house doesn't have one!

I won't disagree for one second that there are people in this country that are, "poor," but really don't need any assistance. They are pros that know the system and milk it for all it is worth. On the other side of the coin I have close friends that live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the poorest county in the United States. The Cuni's are VERY lucky, they own large tracks of land on the reservation and are ranchers. They own a small cafe (best Navajo taco you can eat), a campground, and are opening a bed and breakfast. They do all right. However not far from them in the heart of the reservation folks live in horrible poverty that the government through a series of BIA programs perpetuates. 33% are homeless, 85% unemployment, 60% drop out rate, crime and alcohol problems are out of control. I've been to the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico and have seen similar conditions.

HOWEVER I've been to Adams Street in Lowell, Massachusetts and the rough neighborhoods around Saint Rapheal's hospital in New Haven and see a different kind of poverty. The kind that makes your blood boil because of people who have more opportunities but just want their handout from the system.

When I lived in Texas my folks lived in deep east Texas. Out there you can find families living in falling apart trailers in the middle of the woods. The kids don't even have shoes and they are dirty all the time. They are failing in school, when they show up. At the same time the family might own four or five purebred hunting dogs, the father drives a brand new Chevy Suburban or 4X4 truck, he's got ten different high powered hunting rifles, and a jet ski. Inside the crumbling trailer is a brand new 36" Sony TV and forget cable, they've got a dish - and yes, they're on food stamps and the kids are getting school lunches.

When I look at poverty I've seen at Pine Ridge, I see people who are trapped by outdated BIA regulations that keep them poor and keep them trapped on a dead end reservation. Leave and lose any assistance you get - stay and there is no education, no work, and no hope. After four generations on the reservation, it becomes all you know. I see an incredibly proud people that have been completely f**ked over by 141 years of bad government policy. Most of the land on Pine Ridge is so bad, you can't even graze cattle on it - it's not called the "Badlands," for nothing. They desire more, but want to be recognized for who they are.

When I look at poverty I've seen on Adams Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, or New Haven, Connecticut, I see hookers, drug dealers, and the people that perpetuate that type of life style and poverty. I see a pathetic way of life and people who are proud to be poor, and work the system any way they can. I see woman dressed in designer jeans, real fur coats, manicured nails, and spectacular jewelry pay for their groceries with food stamps and then hop into a brand new BMW 3-series with vanity plates. They hold their heads up high and say they pay their taxes with pride, but never report the income from the crack they are selling on the tricks they are turning.

When I look at poverty I've seen in rural east Texas I see people who have their priorities completely out of whack. Sure they work hard at some menial job at a paper mill or manufacturing, but instead of providing a good home for their children they surround themselves with grown up toys and care more about when hunting season is then planning for even tomorrow, let alone their retirement. They complain about taxes, big government, and the system - and gripe when their food stamps are cut.

Poverty is totally an issue of point of view. There is one additional point to this. History has shown that when ever the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider and wider, discontent among the classes grow, and the very fabric of countries can be torn about. No child should live in poverty, they weren't lined up in heaven going, "pick me, pick me, pick me," when it was decided who was going to be the next Kenny from South Park. It's a trend worth watching - but a national poverty line for the entire nation is just pure nonsense. Poverty is all in the POV.

One other thing - I'm glad I'm not poor because POVERTY SUCKS.
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I haven't posted much here but this is an interesting thread and I'll throw in an (unsubstantiated) opinion.

I think US immigration policy is a major factor contributing to the discrepancy in poverty rate given for the US vs France, Belgium, etc. I think current net legal immigration for the US is running over 1m per year and has been relatively high for the past decade or so. Immigrants into the US are primarily poor and have a higher birth rate than the country average. This skews both poverty and wealth distribution statistics for the US vs western EU countries whose borders are (relatively speaking)much more closed.

Don't get me wrong, I support a liberal US immigration policy. We could in the shorter run reduce the poverty rate by closing down the borders, but IMHO the longer term loss in economic and cultural vitality is not worth it.

I am not suggesting that recent immigrants from the relatively poorer countries constitute our entire underclass, only that they are a significant factor in explaining the differences between in poverty rates and welath distribution between the various rich countries in the CDF survey.

henry
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Looks like we got a lot of underachievers in our nation on the other side of the economic spectrum. Tsk tsk.

Study and work harder.

Thank you for being such a good representative of, "compasionate conservatism." I'm glad to now know what it is all about.

Why don't you tell us how you really feel - Hitler sent under achieving gypsy's to the gas chamber...


So, all flippancy aside, do you submit the path out of poverty is not education and economics (though Kayce says it is a way). Also, though no one advocates death to the underachievers what do you suggest we do. Take money from those who have escaped poverty and give it to them or do you have something else in mind besides linking Conservatives to Hitler (study and work harder equals gas chamber. Nice logic chain).

TJ
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So, all flippancy aside, do you submit the path out of poverty is not education and economics (though Kayce says it is a way). Also, though no one advocates death to the underachievers what do you suggest we do. Take money from those who have escaped poverty and give it to them or do you have something else in mind besides linking Conservatives to Hitler (study and work harder equals gas chamber. Nice logic chain).

TJ:

I did write a more meaningful response later in the day. I gave a flippant reply to this story because the original post was about CHILDREN. Now unless there is a setup that I don't know about in heaven, I don't think the little souls are jumping up and down saying, "I want to go to the poor family, I want to go to the poor family!"

So saying things like, "study and work harder," is solid advice to those kids - but it doesn't help put shoes on their feet and it doesn't help them get a good meal and sleep in a warm house. If you doubt the benefit of a good night sleep and a breakfast, there have been decades of studies that show poor eating and sleep habits equals a poorly performing student.

My initial response was emotional because the finger waving and, "tsk, tsk," is sickening when taken in context of the story. IT IS NOT THE CHILDREN'S FAULT unless your submitting that they shouldn't have been born in the first place. However there are alternatives in birth control and...oh never mind, that's an even bigger rats nest!

DISCLAIMER

The last sentence was meant as flippant political satire - I know you're not suggesting that!
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I did write a more meaningful response later in the day.

You did. My bad.

So saying things like, "study and work harder," is solid advice to those kids - but it doesn't help put shoes on their feet and it doesn't help them get a good meal and sleep in a warm house. If you doubt the benefit of a good night sleep and a breakfast, there have been decades of studies that show poor eating and sleep habits equals a poorly performing student.

So what do we do? I wanted to reply to a number of the recent posts on the same subject. If the kids need a good environment how do we guarantee they get one? Throwing money at the parents may not help (it helps some) or may heighten the problem. What do we do with those kids whose parents receive aid but still do a crummy job of parenting?

TJ
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I don't know if anyone here caught this ABC News special by John Stossel a few months back. It was entitled "Is America Number one?" Amongst the topics in the special was a section on poverty and the widening of the poverty gap. Here is an except of the transcript from abcnews.com:


STOSSEL: (studio) Is that really true? Lots of people say, in America, it?s only the rich who triumph at the expense of the poor.

SOT JESSE JACKSON There?s no roof for the wealthy and no floor for the poor.

STOSSEL: (VO) Politicians keep saying it.

BILL CLINTON: There are still too many Americans working for low wages, living in poverty

SOT HIGHTOWER It?s Hightower Radio, with Jim Hightower.

STOSSEL: (VO) Jim Hightower is one of many commentators who spread the word.

SOT HIGHTOWER Let?s talk about your street versus Wall Street.

STOSSEL: The rich are getting richer and the poor are being left.

JIM HIGHTOWER: We have unprecedented economic growth. More money being generated than ever before. But it?s all going to the top. Eight out of ten Americans have seen their incomes go flat or go down.

MICHAEL COX: Hogwash. Hogwash.

STOSSEL: (VO) Federal Reserve economist Michael Cox says it?s just not true ? all these reports about the poor being left behind, about most Americans? income being flat or going down.

COX: You have to torture the data virtually in order to get it to say that. It?s playing games with the numbers. It?s telling a big lie to say that we just don?t get paid as much as we used to.

STOSSEL: (VO) In fact, the Federal Reserve?s wage data that?s often cited doesn?t count things like commissions salespeople make? retirement contributions? medical insurance. When you include them, average American compensation?s risen 20 percent.

STOSSEL: (studio) Still, what about the poorest of the poor? We?re told America leaves them behind.

SOT PETER JENNINGS Nearly 37 million Americans now live below the official poverty line?

COX: The government says now 13.3 percent of households are in poverty.
Let?s go see what households in poverty have. Ninety-seven percent of households in poverty have color televisions. Two thirds have microwave ovens and live in air-conditioned buildings. Seventy-five percent have one or more cars.

HIGHTOWER: It?s the old welfare Cadillac story. I mean, this is not a statement about an economy. This is anecdotal b.s. I mean? And it?s insulting, uh, to poor folks. I would invite you to visit with some poor people and get out there in the? in the real world.

STOSSEL: (VO) Okay? we went to the poorest Congressional district in America? the South Bronx. People here were lined up to get free food from a charity run by Sister Helen.

MAN: Thank you Sister Helen, I love you.

SISTER HELEN: You?re an angel! If I was you, I?d love me too. (laughs)

STOSSEL: Do they need you here?

SISTER HELEN: Well, I? I don?t know if they need me, but I love to feed the people.

STOSSEL: (VO) Now most of these people are not working in regular jobs, but we met no one here who was homeless.

WOMAN: Yes, I have a house.

STOSSEL: Color TV?

WOMAN: Yes, I have a color TV.

HOODED MAN: Yeah, uh-huh. I got apartment.

STOSSEL: Have a color TV?

HOODED MAN: Got a color TV, yeah, got a color TV.

STOSSEL: Do you have a VCR?

HOODED MAN: I have a VCR.

STOSSEL: Are you poor?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: Sure, I?m poor.

STOSSEL: Do you have an apartment?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: Yeah, right here in the complex. Color TV? the works

STOSSEL: The works? VCR?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: (Overlap) A VCR? everything that goes with it.

STOSSEL: Have a microwave oven?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: Yeah. Microwave.

STOSSEL: Have cable?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: Cable? the normal things.

STOSSEL: Well, how are you poor?

CAMOUFLAGE HAT MAN: Well, poor is a word that everybody uses.

STOSSEL: (VO) No one says some Americans aren?t suffering, but poverty in America is nothing compared to the misery and hunger you see in India, and most of the world. These people in the South Bronx aren?t here because they?ve been going without food? they come because the food is free.

JOHN OLMO: I always go to pantry day.

BARBRANN: For the food.

STOSSEL: (VO) John Olmo and Barbrann Norman share Barbrann?s two-bedroom apartment, the rent subsidized by the government, and they have many things people in many countries only dream about: ample food, and a frost-free refrigerator to keep it in, a CD player, VCR, several radios, and cable television.

BARBRANN: I got the basic cable, which runs like 62 a month.



(I believe) The entire program can be viewed using Real Player. The link can here:

http://abcnews.go.com/onair/ABCNEWSSpecials/stossel990919_usa1.html


T13
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If the kids need a good environment how do we guarantee they get one?

One way to help is to make as certain as possible that every child born is wanted.

6
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Always happy to reread anything done by Brother John.

John Stossel is one of the great telejournalists. "Is America number 1" one of the great stories linking economic freedom to standard of living.

His consumer report on Government highlighted the interior departments buffoonery with Native Americans.

Another must see.

TJ
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One way to help is to make as certain as possible that every child born is wanted.

Since that can't happen we may want to ensure no unwanted children are conceived.

I would consider offering free Norplant to anyone who wants, as a reform method to minimize governmental costs. Then anyone who has a child absent Norplant, without mitigating cause, would be on their own but could voluntarily surrender their child into the state's hand for adoption/orphanage whatever.

TJ
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I would consider offering free Norplant to anyone who wants, as a reform method to minimize governmental costs. Then anyone who has a child absent Norplant, without mitigating cause, would be on their own but could voluntarily surrender their child into the state's hand for adoption/orphanage whatever.

Beautiful. We need to stop being so stupid when it comes to "the children". What many people want to ignore is that it is terribly wrong to reward people who have children that they can not afford.

-Bruce

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I would consider offering free Norplant to anyone who wants, as a reform method to minimize governmental costs. Then anyone who has a child absent Norplant, without mitigating cause, would be on their own but could voluntarily surrender their child into the state's hand for adoption/orphanage whatever.

Not a bad idea at all. Maybe a choice between a couple of other birth control options as well, since the Norplant doesn't work for everyone. Plus it's kinda icky if you've ever seen it. I think my tax dollars would go further paying for tubals than for welfare.

6
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What many people want to ignore is that it is terribly wrong to reward people who have children that they can not afford.


I agree Bruce, but it's important to remember that when you leave that person on their own, you are also abandoning the child. I'm not arguing whether we have an ethical responsibility here, but we have mostly agreed that poverty begets poverty, so maybe it's time for a "big picture" strategy somehow?

6
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I would consider offering free Norplant to anyone who wants, as a reform method to minimize governmental costs. Then anyone who has a child absent Norplant, without mitigating cause, would be on their own but could voluntarily surrender their child into the state's hand for adoption/orphanage whatever.

TJ:

I also think this is an incredibly good idea. However there are powerful people on the far right and far left that don't share your view for differing reasons. Also, some of the very people who have chimed in in support of this measure on this thread, hailed the Bush Administration's decision to stop funding birth control as a medical benefit.

How whacked is that???

I think you and I need our own TV show - like Hannity and Colmes!!!
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I also think this is an incredibly good idea. However there are powerful people on the far right and far left that don't share your view for differing reasons. Also, some of the very people who have chimed in in support of this measure on this thread, hailed the Bush Administration's decision to stop funding birth control as a medical benefit.

How whacked is that???


Well I'm not sure I support it as a medical benefit but would as a welfare reform initiative. Just like I support Artillery for National defense but not for Urban Renewal <g>.

I think you and I need our own TV show - like Hannity and Colmes!!!

I would watch and so would my mom! I think we need to take the asylum public and set up a web site featuring one-on-one debate between the inmates. I would contribute time, capital and lego security guards.

Warmest regards,

TJ
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I agree Bruce, but it's important to remember that when you leave that person on their own, you are also abandoning the child. I'm not arguing whether we have an ethical responsibility here, but we have mostly agreed that poverty begets poverty, so maybe it's time for a "big picture" strategy somehow?

Allow me to throw a few thoughts into the mix.

Poverty does indeed beget poverty, but the causal factor is not lack of money.

Poverty is relative. There will always be poor; their lot in life will improve over time as long as we have economic liberty.

As long as we want the right to be parents, we have to accept that there will be inequitable childhood environments.

The only things the government should do for the poor are: supplement their wages; provide education vouchers; fight crime. For children, we should prevent severe child abuse. All other programs are useless or worse.

-Bruce
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The only things the government should do for the poor are: supplement their wages; provide education vouchers; fight crime. For children, we should prevent severe child abuse. All other programs are useless or worse.

Ya, immunization, pre-natal care, and well baby programs are pretty useless. Besides if we return polio, mumps, measles, and whooping cough to the poor, kick up the infant mortality rate (already at the bottom of the barrel for industrialized nations) we can kill off a certain percentage of those children further reducing the number in poverty in this country while giving each American a tax cut that is big enough to buy a cup of coffee every other year.

Sounds like a great plan to me...
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Ya, immunization, pre-natal care, and well baby programs are pretty useless. Besides if we return polio, mumps, measles, and whooping cough to the poor, kick up the infant mortality rate (already at the bottom of the barrel for industrialized nations) we can kill off a certain percentage of those children further reducing the number in poverty in this country while giving each American a tax cut that is big enough to buy a cup of coffee every other year.

Alrighty then. In light of the brilliant insight of dvd, I must amend my statement:

Excepting health care issues which is a whole other topic, the only things the government should do for the poor are: supplement their wages; provide education vouchers; fight crime. For children, we should prevent severe child abuse. All other programs are useless or worse.

-Bruce
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<Excepting health care issues which is a whole other topic, the only things the government should do for the poor are: supplement their wages; provide education vouchers; fight crime. For children, we should prevent severe child abuse. All other programs are useless or worse.>

What do you mean we should supplement the wages of poor people? Why is this a function of government.

As far as school vouchers I agree wholeheartedly that government should provide this option. After-all it is government that has set up a competing education system that has all but removed other choices from the public. At least in the Twin Cities, there are very few schools where people can send their children to private schools that are not religious or (in a few instances) special needs based.

Michele
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What do you mean we should supplement the wages of poor people? Why is this a function of government.

Thanks for asking. It is arguable whether this is a legitimate function of government. However, if we are going to have government charity, I think this is the form it should take. If the market says your labor is worth $3/hour, let's chip in and make it $6 or whatever. The subsidies would phase out as your labor becomes more valuable. Note that this program dovetails nicely with a consumption tax.

As an aside, I think too many cons stand on principle when we should be modifying lib ideas to make them better.

-Bruce
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<Thanks for asking. It is arguable whether this is a legitimate function of government. However, if we are going to have government charity, I think this is the form it should take. If the market says your labor is worth $3/hour, let's chip in and make it $6 or whatever. The subsidies would phase out as your labor becomes more valuable. Note that this program dovetails nicely with a consumption tax.


I have a tendency to be what my critics call "overly idealistic" on the role of goverment. I know everyone groans when I pull out the Constitution when I am trying to understand government's role. However, idealistic as it may seem I have no intention of apologizing for my viewpoint. :o) But I am also pretty practical in some regards and I think: OK, what motivates people to want to move up the socioeconomic ladder? I think that is an extremely personal thing. For some it is status, for some it is new challenges, for some it is comfort, for some it is building a better life for the next generation and so on. What about people that are more than happy to say that 6 bucks/hr is wonderful and as far as they choose to climb? Do we build in "inflation" raises for those people to keep their noses above the povery level so that they US can sit back with a s**t-eating grin on its face and say "we've eliminated" poverty? The welfare state in this country was started with the good intentions (I hope) of giving people that were down on their luck a leg up and has turned into nightmare of an entitlement programs that, IMHO, destroys the dreams of the poor more than it does the rich.

I think that if the goverment would focus on protection of individual and property rights and get out of the way so that the provision of education could be provided by people who want to make money as educators, we would solve this "problem" of the gap between rich and poor more quickly, than we will by taxing the successful (wildly or moderately successful) people of our nation.

<As an aside, I think too many cons stand on principle when we should be modifying lib ideas to make them better.>

I don't consider myself a conservative, being one of those pesky libertarians. I think that both sides have some great ideas and I also can name one stupid conservative idea for every studpid liberal idea that is given. We just have to make sure that in our desire to seek common ground we don't get so busy kissing butt that we forget to get to the root cause of the problems we are trying to solve. Compromising on important issues that will ultimately backfire just so that we can congratulate ourselves on a bi-partisan solution is not a solution in my book.


Michele
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I don't consider myself a conservative, being one of those pesky libertarians.

I am a Republican who is a Conservative Libertarian and so are most other Republicans.

I think that both sides have some great ideas and I also can name one stupid conservative idea for every studpid liberal idea that is given.

I don't think you can.

Regarding my suggestion for enhancing low wages with public money, if someone decides that $6/hour is enough then so be it. The phaseout would be such that the vast majority of people would not be satisfied with any subsidized wage level. The nice thing about this system is that you have to work to earn and there is always an incentive to earn more.

-Bruce
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<I don't think you can.>

Ah, sure I can. But that is beside the point. We won't find good, sustainable solutions to any of the problems in this country by trading taunts about who has the stupider ideas. I was insinuating that the Republicans have just as many ideas that limit peoples freedoms (from a Constitional standpoint) as the Democrats do.

<The nice thing about this system is that you have to work to earn and there is always an incentive to earn more.>

Since I am feeling particularly devilish this afternoon I query you this:

If we removed the welfare state that exists today I could also make the claim;

You have to work to earn and there is always an incentive to earn more. :o)


Michele
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If we removed the welfare state that exists today I could also make the claim;

You have to work to earn and there is always an incentive to earn more. :o)


Yes. I neglected to mention that I would only support wage enhancement as a replacement for all other welfare programs.

I was insinuating that the Republicans have just as many ideas that limit peoples freedoms (from a Constitional standpoint) as the Democrats do.

Well, I think you are wrong. And this is not a minor quibble. The Republican agenda is much more in line with Libertarianism than the Democrat agenda. It is not even close.

-Bruce
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What do we do with those kids whose parents receive aid but still do a crummy job of parenting?

Reform needs to start from within the community. What kinds of role models do many of these kids have? Drugs and violence begets more drugs and violence. It's a quick fix to the ecnomic question. Sell drugs, make money. I've seen it many, many times.

We need better leaders in these communities. How, I'm not sure. I don't think it's purely a governmental responsibility. Better, cleaner schools is a start. Setting up mentoring programs for kids that do well with local businesses. Getting the church more active in the community. Free, accessible birth control. All these things can help, I think.
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<I neglected to mention that I would only support wage enhancement as a replacement for all other welfare programs.>

That is certainly a good start, in my opinion.

<Well, I think you are wrong. And this is not a minor quibble. The Republican agenda is much more in line with Libertarianism than the Democrat agenda. It is not even close.>

As I said, I am an idealist and pretty much a stickler. I think that both major parties spend too much time finding ways of removing freedoms and/or forcing their opinions about what is "right" for me in an effort to make things better. But then, it doesn't bug me that you think that I am wrong. :o) And you are right, this is not a minor quibble and one of the reasons why, no matter how many libertarian ideas that the Republicans have on their platform I will not jump on the party bandwagon. Doesn't mean I won't vote for an occasional Rep. on a local level (or Dem. for that matter) where party politics are less of a concern and representation might actually mean something.


Michele
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<We need better leaders in these communities. How, I'm not sure. I don't think it's purely a governmental responsibility. Better, cleaner schools is a start. Setting up mentoring programs for kids that do well with local businesses. Getting the church more active in the community. Free, accessible birth control. All these things can help, I think. >

Kayce03,

For a person who isn't sure about what to do you have some very good ideas!


Michele
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Your post on poverty in the United States and immigration didn't get any direct response, or I overlooked it. Anyway, here are some quotations without further comment (except that I just verified that all the links are working):

http://www.ncpa.org/pd/immigrat/pdimm/pdimm2.html Is the U.S. importing poverty? Recent immigrants tend to be either low-skilled or high-skilled -- with few in the middle. On average, they earn about one-third less than natives; 21 percent of immigrant households are on welfare, compared to 14 percent of native households -- with immigrants tending to stay on welfare longer; an estimated 30 percent of the growth in the gap between rich and poor in America can be attributed to the impact of immigrants.

http://www.mojones.com/mother_jones/JA98/lind.html Without raising taxes or spending, a progressive government can increase the wages of low- and middle-income Americans by reducing immigration. . . . If current immigration levels persist, working people can look forward to overcrowded cities, depleted watersheds, paved farmland, low wages, decimated unions, happy agribusiness CEOs, and rich people enjoying a buyer's market in maids, gardeners, and nannies.

http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/6677.html Paraphrase of George Borjas, leading immigration economist: In dragging down wages, immigration currently shifts about $160 billion per year from workers to employers and users of immigrants' services. Immigrants today are less skilled than their predecessors, more likely to require public assistance, and far more likely to have children who remain in poor, segregated communities. The benefits of immigration have been greatly exaggerated and, if we allow immigration to continue unabated and unmodified, we are supporting an astonishing transfer of wealth from the poorest people in the country, who are disproportionately minorities, to the richest.

http://www.carryingcapacity.org/whywe.htm . Did you know that immigration accounts for 60% of our growth now? As our population grows, the magnitude of most of our problems will increase. Those problems include traffic, air pollution, water shortages, school overcrowding, declining quality of life, tax increases, crime, joblessness, homelessness, the national debt, soil depletion and pollution ... ahhh but the list goes on and on ...

http://www.susps.org/opinion/berry_9903.html The immigrant population is growing 6.5 times faster than the native-born population, slightly over 4 percent per year compared to 0.6 percent per year for natives. . . Although poll after poll indicates that most Americans would like to see immigration reduced to traditional levels (about 250,000 a year), present immigration policy is dictated by a mix of industries that benefit from cheap labor, 15,000 immigration lawyers, and a host of intellectuals doing penance for the nation's past sins, believing that bringing in annually 1 million of the world's 4 billion poor will reduce world poverty.

http://www.cis.org/topics/costs.html The National Research Council has estimated that the net fiscal cost of immigration ranges from $11 billion to $22 billion per year, with most government expenditures on immigrants coming from state and local coffers, while most taxes paid by immigrants go to the federal treasury. The net deficit is caused by a low level of tax payments by immigrants, because they are disproportionately low-skilled and thus earn low wages, and a higher rate of consumption of government services, both because of their relative poverty and their higher fertility.

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Chipsboss:

Thanks for the info on immigration. Two things are clear to me. First, are current levels of immigration are way too high. Second, there his a huge disconnect between what the people want and what the politicians deliver with respect to immigration. This is clearly a case of special interests getting their way because they scream louder.

-Bruce
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bcairns,

Are you suggesting here that there should be some type of universal health care for children, so that they are fit enough to get the opportunity to break out of a cycle of poverty?

(dvd in italics, and yours follows in bold):

Ya, immunization, pre-natal care, and well baby programs are pretty useless. Besides if we return polio, mumps, measles, and whooping cough to the poor, kick up the infant mortality rate (already at the bottom of the barrel for industrialized nations) we can kill off a certain percentage of those children further reducing the number in poverty in this country while giving each American a tax cut that is big enough to buy a cup of coffee every other year.

Alrighty then. In light of the brilliant insight of dvd, I must amend my statement:
Excepting health care issues which is a whole other topic, the only things the government should do for the poor are: supplement their wages; provide education vouchers; fight crime.


--ETurkey
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Are you suggesting here that there should be some type of universal health care for children, so that they are fit enough to get the opportunity to break out of a cycle of poverty?

I am open to all ideas on health care. In my post, I was separating the issue because it is difficult. Having said that, I do not think health care has anything to do with the cycle of poverty.

-Bruce
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Having said that, I do not think health care has anything to do with the cycle of poverty.

Well, I think you agree that it is cheaper to be healthy than it is to be sick, right?

And sick kids stay home from school. And if the sickness is debilitating, a family's finances can be ravaged.

You know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...

--ETurkey
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Well, I think you agree that it is cheaper to be healthy than it is to be sick, right?
And sick kids stay home from school. And if the sickness is debilitating, a family's finances can be ravaged.
You know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...


I was sorry to have said that health has nothing to do with the cycle of poverty as soon as I posted it. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of cure. Free health care for all would do very little to break the cycle of poverty.

-Bruce
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<<I am of the belief that the, "poverty level," is subjective. If a family of four is living in Palo Alto, California and making $40,000 a year, odds are they are poor. If that same family is living in Sioux City, Iowa they are probably doing all right.>>>


Absolutely true. In some parts of the country the rent on a one bedroom apartment is more than what a mortgage payment on a 3 bedroom house would be elsewhere...throw in state tax, property tax, city tax, and you have a real difference in the standard of living.
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"As far as school vouchers I agree wholeheartedly that government should provide this option. After-all it is government that has set up a competing education system that has all but removed other choices from the public. "

Michele


A small note about education vouchers: A lot of people seem to think these are a magic cure for the problems of the public schools. However, if school vouchers were enacted, most kids would leave their neighborhood public schools to attend their neighborhood private schools. Where I am, there would be no difference. The private schools in many areas are no different from the public schools except one charges tuition and the other does not. When public and private schools in the same neighborhoods are compared, the difference in achievement and quality of education is very small, if there is a difference.
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<A small note about education vouchers: A lot of people seem to think these are a magic cure for the problems of the public schools. However, if school vouchers were enacted, most kids would leave their neighborhood public schools to attend their neighborhood private schools. Where I am, there would be no difference. The private schools in many areas are no different from the public schools except one charges tuition and the other does not. When public and private schools in the same neighborhoods are compared, the difference in achievement and quality of education is very small, if there is a difference. >

Magic cure? No. Step in the right direction yes. In the short term (1-5 years) vouchers aren't going to make a huge difference in thousands of kids lives, unfortunately. They will, on the other hand, make a huge difference in the way that public schools approach their financial responsibility to the taxpayers of their communities and educational responsibility to parents and children.

In the Twin Cities area there are about 3-4 private schools that are not directly linked to some religious organization. This means that of the 100,000+ kids in the TC, only 3-4K are going to a college prep school that doesn't have a religious based foundation (which is important to lots of people, pro and con). On the other hand, there are many religious based schools. Why? Because it is important to those parents and they have spoken with their pocketbooks to make it happen. THAT is what the free market is all about. Vouchers will allow parents a way of speaking with their pocketbooks (I would argue that they should be doing it already but even people that want vouchers seem to be waiting for the government to make their dreams come true). Anyway, what would keep a group of 4-5 teachers from getting together and starting their own school (where gasp!!! they teach math, history, science, literature, music, art, for example) and go after some of that voucher money. Who would these teachers be accountable to? Their customers, the parents and their children. In the long run, vouchers will jump start the free market relative to education. They will provide a market for people who want to run a school to go after. That is all vouchers will do. They will never provide a magic cure. Only the people who place a high value on educated children will provide the cure.

Michele
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