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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So Little to Ask For: A Home, Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

….. “In a year in which there finally is serious talk about inequality, the ultimate poverty is lack of shelter. And the good news is that in the last decade or so, we’ve figured out what works to address it; the problem is not inevitable. The Housing First approach, which gets people quickly into permanent housing and then offers support services to keep them there, seems particularly cost-effective.Family homelessness is down almost one-fifth since 2010, and veteran homelessness is down much more — two states say they have functionally ended homelessness of veterans.Another reason for optimism: With almost no fanfare, President Obama’s budget proposal includes $11 billion over 10 years, which he says would end family and youth homelessness. This is a step to end a level of homelessness that just isn’t tolerated in other developed countries.”

Source: So Little to Ask For: A Home – The New York Times

Here is a comment from the NYT:
RCT
3 hours ago

“I read “Evicted” after reading the favorable NYT review. I recommend it, particularly in this election year, to anyone interested in poverty and its causes.

As Nick Kristof writes, Desmond’s research indicates that the behaviors associated with poverty are poverty’s result, not cause, and that homelessness is the primary factor in making people poor. People with permanent, stable housing find jobs, create safe environments in which their kids can attend school regularly, and form neighborhoods with low crime rates, less drug use and a sense of community that supports those who are ill or in need. Yet, in today’s America, we are destroying, not building, stable families.

How bitterly ironic that the Republican Party, which purports to represent and promote family values, enacts legislation and institutes policies that cause the economic meltdowns that cast millions into the streets- and is then the first to blame those victims, decrying their lack of moral fiber, when, inevitably, they develop symptoms of emotional disintegration. If they call 911 for help, they are evicted once again.

When I read a column, such as those written by David Brooks, decrying Americans’ so-called moral deterioration, I think “cart before the horse.” Desmond has it right: moral decay follows social deterioration follows poverty follows homelessness; and homeless is caused by policies, not accidents of fate.

We can change this. Voters are the ultimate source of policy. Vote for homes.”

Reply 58 Recommended

The Most Important Thing, and It’s Almost a Secret Everyone knows about the spread of war and the hopeless intractability of poverty. But everyone is wrong. nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

Saint Nicholas begins: “We journalists are a bit like vultures, feasting on war, scandal and disaster. Turn on the news, and you see Syrian refugees, Volkswagen corruption, dysfunctional government.

Yet that reflects a selection bias in how we report the news: We cover planes that crash, not planes that take off. Indeed, maybe the most important thing happening in the world today is something that we almost never cover: a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease.”

Nicholas Kristof claims that birthrates are falling dramatically, the ghoul of overpopulation is fading. I hope, but do not expect, that he is right. However, many now recognize that k-12 education for all children, means a declining birth rate, which is desperately needed for the world ecology.

Everyone knows about the spread of war and the hopeless intractability of poverty. But everyone is wrong.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof