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Ideas about poverty, income gap

Letters to the editor

U.S. poverty is a long-term problem

Re the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty: Many of our nation’s poor were helped by the various programs. When I graduated from college in 1957 there was no Title 18 (Medicaid) or Title 19 (Medicare) to the Social Security Act. There were no Pell Grants or student loans. These programs have made life better for many, yet many still remain in poverty. The war on poverty did not go far enough. There is tendency for short-term thinking solutions to long-term problems. There is no safety net for the poor.

As a social worker, I saw poor children in Dayton see a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist for the first time through the Children & Youth Project in Children’s Medical Center, and attend the newly created Head Start program. In 1960, 95% of Dayton’s African-American population lived in Innerwest Dayton, where there was high poverty, infant mortality and unemployment.

As a backdrop of the urban riots of the 1960s, Dayton was designated and funded in 1966 as a “Model City” project under Title I of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Act. It was the first time those residents had access to their government and a voice directly affecting their lives and conditions. Forming a new approach to planning and working with the city leaders, the Manpower programs, the Charles R. Drew Health Center and Project Cure were founded; the latter two remain the most visible from the Model Cities Program.


Democrats contributed to the “Income Gap”

In recent columns Robert Reich has picked up on President Obama’s latest mantra about what he calls the serious issue of the widened gap between “the most fortunate and the less fortunate”, also referred to as the “income gap.” What I find most ironic is that in observing this the liberals seem blind to contributors to it that result from their own policies.

Clearly, there are various factors that have led to this, including the movement of jobs out of the country and computerization, whereby computers are now performing tasks once done by people. But what have Obama and the Democrats done to create jobs? Other than the temporary stopgap “stimulus” program in his first year, Obama’s efforts as president for five years have been focused on job-cutting Obamacare, more regulations on the private sector, and in general demonizing it and business owners (remember his “you didn’t build it “ speech?).

Additionally, liberal initiatives have contributed to a more permanent non-working class. With the generosity of entitlement programs, including housing subsidies, food stamps, free phones, etc., there has been a decrease in incentives to find work. Couple that with the breakdown in the family and more welfare payments for more children in fatherless homes (how’s that “feminism” that preached that you don’t need a man in the home working out?) and it is not surprising that many are stuck in poverty. Simultaneously, the Obama administration has supported the Federal Reserve policy of printing more and more money, which has inflated the stock market to the benefit of “the rich.”

So, instead of using the “income gap” for political demagoguery and speeches to further divide the country, I would suggest that Obama act like a president and put forth some policies that truly address these causes. And I mean substantive ideas to grow the private sector and in turn jobs beyond such feeble attempts as extending unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage. This once great country was not built on these peripheral aspects of our overall economy.


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