Skip to main content
Report this ad

See also:

My Turn: Is poverty a proactive choice?

The future of poverty in America
The future of poverty in America
Brookings/LTD Associates

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela

George Will, an iconic columnist for the Washington Post, agrees with Paul Ryan, Republican Congressman and failed 2012 Vice-Presidential candidate, who blames poverty on culture.
Ryan, appearing on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio program last Wednesday said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.
Half a century and $20 plus trillion after President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty, Ryan and Will have clearly declared LBJ’s other war to have been an abject failure.
If Ryan and Will are right, the primary cause of poverty in America lies in the welfare-grabbing hearts and minds of "generations of men who never think about working and who are completely unwilling to learn the value and the culture of work."
So, what do you think?
Are Paul Ryan and George Will right?
Is poverty in America a simple proactive choice made each and every day by millions of men (not women?) who choose to struggle to survive in humiliation and frustration in order to feed at the public trough for a pittance rather than take their pick of all those terrific living-wage jobs that go begging for applicants in this economy?
If Ryan and Will are right, shouldn't the rest of us simply surrender to the notion that the poor will be forever dependent for support upon those of us who do think about work because we’ve learned the value and culture of work?
But are Ryan and Will right?
Is poverty a simple matter of choice?
Logic tells us that millions of men (and women), given a choice, would not choose poverty.
Suppose poor folks were give a choice?
A choice like a meaningful, affordable education?
After all, don’t educated men, women, and children make better life choices . . . like producing fewer children out of wedlock, like selecting more compatible mates, and like committing far fewer crimes?
And, aren’t educated people typically healthier and therefore less dependent upon public health services?
Moreover, do not educated folks produce more, earn more, spend more, save more, invest more, contribute more in taxes and donations, and therefore live happier, more stable lives than their uneducated fellow citizens?
If these facts are true (and they are) where should we start to fight a winning war on poverty?
With America’s children . . . of course!
Kids Count, 2014 a research project performed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to help develop policies to “secure better futures for all children”, concluded:
A strong and prosperous society flourishes when there is a commitment to the care, health and education of its youngest children. The findings in this policy report suggest that high-quality early childhood programs that include supports for families have a powerful and lasting impact on children as they progress through school and into adulthood.
Now, we need to act on this national imperative. Every day that we delay is a day in the life of a child who could be benefittng from critical interventions. States have already shown great creativity in improving systems for children from birth through age 8. The federal government must work in partnership with states to build on their achievements. Policymakers at the federal, state and local levels should look to the decades of evidence on best practices in early childhood fields as they advance their legislative efforts. With such evidence on their side, elected officials, advocates and other policymakers are well positioned to make the case for a comprehensive and integrated birth through age 8 system that ensures all children have a real chance to succeed and contribute to a stronger nation.

All true but nothing new . . . so, one wonders . . . why are Paul Ryan and George Will wasting their time and ours whining about a culture of poverty when they should be talking about how a culture of education could eliminate poverty?

Comments? Questions? Contact the author at: or Tweet: @DavyZJones

Report this ad