Tom Reed on Poverty

In a press release dated Jan. 8, 2014, Tom writes:

Rep. Tom Reed today marked the 50th anniversary of America’s War on Poverty by reflecting on the progress made since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty effort in 1964 and looking ahead to what can be done to change the status quo to increase economic opportunity in the United States.

Tom may have reflected on progress, but he fails to mention any.

“Today we reflect on and acknowledge the efforts of the past to fight the War on Poverty and perhaps more importantly, we look carefully at where we are today as a nation,” Reed said. “Getting Americans back to work with the tools necessary to succeed will combat that trend. The best way to prepare individuals is by teaching them to fish rather than simply handing them a fish.”

Getting Americans back to work is important, but Tom fails to mention the many Americans who are underemployed — working at jobs that don’t pay a living wage. Nor does Tom mention that it may be worthwhile to learn a skill, but it doesn’t put bread on the table if jobs aren’t available.

After 50 years and more than $15 trillion spent fighting the War on Poverty, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that more Americans – 46.5 million – live in poverty than ever before.

The implication here is that the War on Poverty has yet to succeed. This is true enough, but Tom didn’t mention that there has been a truce in that war for decades. Nor did Tom mention that there are more of us now.

“As a country, we need to work to move away from the status quo that is clearly not working and create new, fair opportunities for education, training and jobs,” Reed continued. “Solutions we work toward should empower individuals and families to be self sufficient and engage the nation’s youth now to break the cycle of generational poverty. Every one of us is affected by poverty in American and it will take each one of us working together to help end this war, once and for all.”

Again training is the only solution that Tom proposes. If this is his solution, I hope he plans to put plenty of money and effort into making it happen. Effectively, Tom’s proposals shift responsibility for poverty from society and government to the individual. Given educational opportunities, if a person then fails to find an adequate job, it must be that person’s fault.

European governments, which have addressed poverty as a social problem, have made organized efforts to reduce it which have been successful.  It would be sensible to try that approach, but that wouldn’t be Tom’s way.

© William Hungerford – January 2014

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in Congress, Constituents, Economics, Education, Political, Reed's Views, Sequester/Fiscal Cliff. Bookmark the permalink.

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