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April 4, 2022 12:01 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Dr. Vance Ginn to discuss poverty in America, and why we need a more holistic, less government-focused approach if we are to truly improve poverty rates in our country.
Family policy matters in engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast reduced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fall better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters. Tracy Yvette Griggs, thanks for joining us today for family policy matters, despite trillions of dollars spent in waging a war on poverty. These efforts have barely nudge the needle on long-term poverty relief. Are we missing some crucial element in this discussion and is it time to reevaluate how we address poverty in the public policy arena will Dr. Vance again is the chief economist at the Texas Public policy foundation and is policy director for a multistate poverty relief initiative. He previously served in the Office of Management and Budget at the executive office of the president were grateful to have been with us today to explore these questions and more. Dr. Vance again welcome to family policy matters morning you been known to say we think about poverty all wrong. So why do you say that while I think Whitby typically is allergen material goods people have income that they have and what we've done essentially since the great Society of LBJ was we put in place a number of programs that have been expanded over time. Weatherby snapped with food stamps. If Medicaid always different safety programs and if you look at them in real terms of inflation-adjusted terms.
We spent about $24 trillion since the mid-1960s, just when they start the program were spending about $1 trillion a year across United States on these programs as well and you would hope that we would have received seeing a much larger decline in poverty rates. Since then, but we really have. It didn't even look at it before like and 65 velocities were put in place. There was already a downward trend in the poverty rate business, continued in that it flattened out over the next 40+ years and so what were looking at Yvette were looking at poverty all wrong because remeasuring adjust by income and by material things and really we need a more holistic approach that brings in the community that brings an opportunity and really more hope of what people really need for the future.
I think by looking at it in a different way will not only better understand poverty and what people are going through, but also be able to come up with better solutions that are more holistic to helping out the people that are involved okay so when you say that poverty or alleviating poverty is more about basic human needs and money what you mean about that. It goes back into what's the quality of life of these individuals have better recipients of the safety net programs that often times what you'll see is that it's good that they're able to pay for food, paper housing some of the things that the safety net programs help them with. I think that's something that that's helpful there, but are they getting on a path to financial self-sufficiency thereafter. Too often, what we see is that the safety net programs end up being more of what I call a hammock where you get in the hammock. He lay there and you end up getting trapped into the system instead of what I think what we want to have about the safety net programs are more like a trampoline where you bounce back into a system or a situation of financial self-sufficiency that way. These individuals are going back into the level of poverty and back on the safety notes as often as they are today if at all would like to see them not to go back on these programs and have more self-sufficiency for their family and being able to help them.
Overall, not so were looking at. We think about case-based management where you have nonprofit communities helping out individuals by connecting them more with society with social capital and that sort of thing. Why should Christians pursue public policy that alleviates poverty while as a Christian you know whatever I think about this.
I think it's one of our duty. That is been tied to us about an and in the Bible and made by Jesus of say likely to help those that are in need men in helping out the poor, and so I think it's it's a bonus to be able to help our fellow men are our neighbors around us and whatever you're thinking about it from that perspective.
I don't think that it's it's so much that we need to have government always be the first line of first resort to help out the people I really think you need to come back to the individuals of people helping out people the community helping out people and things of that nature were the first line of defense really should be about civil society, forcing civil society jobs and things of that nature. Education and training and people helping out people and then at the last resort really should be government.
I think of generally think about poverty all wrong is that were also coming of the wrong solutions of having government oftentimes be the first line of defense is that of the last I live defense where we really putting in our Christian beliefs and are the things that we hold dear to our neighbors around us to really put those things forward helping each other out, not just first, resorting to government programs. So let's talk about the primary causes of poverty here in the US. This is another great question is been a lot of research has been done in this space and whatever you look at it really gets into an area that I like to talk about called the success sequence we expand this more later, but I think what really wanted to boil down. This was done by some good researchers at the Brookings Institution a few years back, and what they really looked at what they say look at you graduate high school and get a full-time job thereafter, and then get married before you have kids in that order. Your 97% chance of not being in poverty and so there's not causation it's his correlation right I put that out there, but the same time it's indicating that there is a success sequence.
This is not going into poverty and so what does that mean what that means that what are some of the indicators that we can look at that are keeping people in poverty both the opposite of the success sequence that's why bring it up now is you know, if you don't get a high school diploma. You're much more likely to be in poverty.
It's hard to get higher paying jobs and things of that nature. So it makes it more difficult for the person you full-time job.
You're more likely to be in poverty to get a part-time job.
You're not working as many hours of effort. I get paid as much at the end of the week of the month and so forth and so that's good to put you in the lower income levels of what we consider to be poverty by the different metrics that we have the measure, poverty, and then if you have eight kids out of wedlock or before you get married right then you're also the single parent more likely to be in poverty and in fact single mothers are the ones who tend to be most in poverty communicated through the pretty astonishing the sort of rates that you see almost half of them. Single moms are in poverty and so the situation of not having enough education not having a full-time job and not having a two parent household here mother and father.
Those are things that are going to keep you in power put you in poverty and ultimately keep you in poverty unless we can overcome some of those issues which I think oftentimes a lot of the safety net programs contribute to some of the issues because we have it's called marriage penalties and things of that nature that are within our safety net system with America and also that our tax code that can accuse people incentivized to not get married until bees are also contributing to higher and higher higher poverty number people poverty over time. The menu oftentimes finds that people are in poverty and just don't know how to get out there in a situation in I grew up in a pretty pretty low income area in South Houston, Texas, and I was by the grace of God it you able to get a beer first generation college student and get a PhD in economics and in really continue to move up and I'm hopefully get a help to change the direction of my family for the future, but not everyone gets the same opportunities and that's one of the big things that we're looking at here. Whether be the success sequence are other research is to really show that opportunity is so important and we need to make sure that we have as many opportunities as possible for people to overcome the situation better. That happened in their life. See also talk about the idea of work having dignity.
Why is that a concept that's important for us to consider work.
It really brings about the human dignity. I think it's a key component of who we are, not only as a Christian think it's very important. God said be fruitful and multiply you naughty part of that being fruitful is work and having that work ethic that there goes back as far as that, but I think even people who may not share the same fate as we do have that dignity that comes with work of being productive for me to think there's also something psychologically of being able to do something and in get something out of life.
It's meaningful just brings so much human dignity and A-line purpose. I think it really goes along with purpose as well. That allows for you to feel like you know what, I'm making a difference.
Maybe not only necessarily just a mile like the people around me. And having that connection really brings about more opportunities for people to feel successful Hope, and ultimately get the income right it's coming along with that, so they can meet their basic necessities and hopefully have even more than that in overtime.
So if we agree that the government program approach to the war on poverty is failing. Do we have alternatives that you have not yet mentioned, yes we do. We recently joined the textile policy foundation joined in his three state efforts that were called the alliance for opportunity and it's with the pelican Institute in Louisiana and the Georgia Center for opportunity in Georgia course and what we all have is a bird were all breeds. They think tanks or from the new conservative libertarian sort of side of the right side of the political spectrum.
And we really want to come out. This is a look were not here to cut programs and kick people off programs. I don't think that's what we really want. Oftentimes the left will chastise us is that we want to do. But that's not really what it is we want people to have self-sufficiency and be able to have that human dignity and purpose in everything ethic of the job and not being in poverty and being dependent on government he safety net programs and so will even looking at her ways to really start to shed light on what these programs are doing, where the money is going.
So we been suggesting independent efficiency audits. Some of them outside of government like a private auditing firm to come in and start audit these different programs see if they're actually doing what they are intended to do and because too often we find is that the money is going into other areas that were never intended and that is going to a lot of bureaucratic bloat that we like to call it administration I should say guests and then also you have IT and things of that nature which are going to be a part of the equation. How much more the money to go but not to the extent that it is today were also looking at more case-based community-based case management to where the safety nets are not just tied to a government employee. That's basically pushing paper they'll have time really to see the holistic approach of how a person is doing, but the people in nonprofit community are already doing that.
So why not attach them to what's going on there, whether they need a meetings what they need. Other things are just having again that social capital somewhat out the community would really help out were also looking at improving workforce development. You know what are the needs of, or the demands of the employer that are out there. Let's make sure connecting that with the workers that are coming out and not just for your pipeline of University but career and technical education we think is so important.
Community college is so important I nearly as expensive but there's so many good jobs that are available that are well-paying job that we really need people to go into were also in favor of things like apprenticeships. I think that's another key part of all this to really get people connected to the workforce, but then also when you look at criminal justice type reforms and a lot of people that are form incarcerated difficult for them to get a drivers license when they get out the drivers license, housing, and get to work and so were saying is look let's speed up this process of giving them opportunity to get a drivers license. Assuming that the redraw their incarcerated was because of that right. It's got to be within that sort of bounds but overall the vast majority of people should be able to get a drivers license. They don't turn back to that life of crime that they must bet that they once had of also reducing occupational licensing. I think of the key part of this and and and really reduce regulations you have more job creation everything else and I think by doing this in a more holistic way. We will get better results will have more long-lasting self-sufficiency instead of just the temporary payments transfer payment that people receive water on these safety programs create good suggestions. So were about a time, unfortunately, but thanks again where listeners go if they want to follow your work on this topic and learn more about the alliance for opportunity. Thank you again for the opportunity today opportunity and export policy firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ossify me on Twitter if the reviewers on twitter at advanced again and in the alliance for opportunity. We have a website with all of the of the blue-collar roadmap with a little background of each one of the areas that are affecting people in poverty, but also a roadmap of policy initiatives that are really trying to outline for folks and that that alliance for opportunity.com and I would point everyone there great Dr. Danskin, chief economist at the Texas Public policy foundation and the alliance for opportunity. Thank you so much for being with us on family policy matters.
Have a blessed day you been listening to family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plenitude in again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about NC families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across both Carolina or website it NC family.work that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family