3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“Too many American kids are set up for failure when they are born into what might be called the “broken class,” where violence, mental illness, drugs and sexual abuse infuse childhood. Yes, such young people sometimes do stupid things, but as a society, we fail them long before they fail us.

There are no silver bullets to eradicate these challenges, but there is “silver buckshot” — an array of policies that make a difference. Early childhood initiatives have a particularly good record, as do efforts to promote work, like the earned-income tax credit. Financial literacy programs help families manage money — and avoid buying large-screen TVs on credit.

One indication that we have the tools and know-how to cut poverty is that other countries have done so. In Britain in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a major attack on child poverty, and over the next five years the child poverty rate there dropped to 14 percent from 26 percent.”

Source: 3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America – The New York Times

Great writing. Kristof also writes: “Bethany and Cassidy are similar — both ebullient, friendly personalities, charming and quick to laugh. But in effect they grew up on different planets. And anybody who blames Bethany for her troubles doesn’t understand the axiom of America today: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

I’m not familiar with this axiom, and talent is certainly not universal. But Kathleen heard it from her dad. She understands it to mean that the distribution of talent is wider than the distribution of opportunity.

 

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