The Shriver Report: Right on the problem of poverty, but wrong on solutions

Shriver ReportToday, millions of Americans live near or below the poverty line. That’s the focus of The Shriver Report’s latest edition, named “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” which urges more government intervention to help low-income families. But that’s not the answer.

There’s no denying it: Government programs and regulations can give needy families a boost, pushing them just above the federal poverty line, but there — on the brink — the government-centric approach leaves them trapped. Government can treat the symptoms of poverty, but it cannot address the underlying issue: a lack of opportunity for self-advancement. Expanding opportunities, or social mobility, should be the focus of anti-poverty policies.

Many factors contribute to stagnant social mobility, some economic and some social. Wage regulations, taxes, high education and health care costs, and skills gaps restrict employment opportunities and make saving and wealth accumulation hard. But the deterioration of the family also contributes. Conservatives have policy proposals to address all of these factors.

The Shriver Report, a compilation of essays by left-leaning women, doubles down on the outcry for a “living wage,” or an increased minimum wage. Sadly, raising the mandated minimum wage would have adverse effects, reducing the number of entry-level jobs and spurring on price inflation. If the minimum wage is artificially raised higher and higher, these stepping-stone jobs will turn from launching pads to flypaper.

A better way to increase the take-home pay of low-wage workers would be to reduce their tax burden, by lowering income and payroll taxes. This not only benefits families through immediate tax relief, but it would also spur economic growth, job creation and real wage growth.

Conservatives in the House have passed dozens of job creation bills that the Senate will not take up. Among them is the SKILLS Act, which would reform federal jobs training programs for the unemployed. The philosophy behind this approach recognizes that skills — not checks in the mail — help job seekers find placement. Furthermore, this Act would reduce the size of government by eliminating 35 distinct jobs training programs and replacing them with one.

Bloated government itself is often the enemy of self-advancement. By offering too many subsidies to too many people, we expand an inefficient welfare state that loses its intended focus on the poorest of the poor. The unchecked growth of these programs also comes with a cost, not just to taxpayers and corporations, but to job seekers as increased taxation and debt take their toll on the economy, and further reduce opportunities. As conservatives have suggested, the reform of anti-poverty programs is vital to make them more efficient and more targeted.

While the Shiver Report purports to offer solutions for families ‘on the brink,’ it ignores two areas that are critical for these families: educational freedom and health care freedom. Consider ‘freedom’ a code word in this case for ‘competition.’ When consumers (students, parents, patients, etc.) are free to choose among a variety of schools, universities, health care providers or insurance plans, prices for these vital services are kept low. This benefits Americans of all income levels, but especially the poor, who struggle to access quality education and health care in today’s over-regulated and costly systems.

Furthermore, conservatives are realistic about the relationship between strong families and economic stability. Two are better than one. This is true when it comes to raising children, earning income, sharing living expenses, or stabilizing life when, inevitably, bad things happen. While the Shriver Report admits that strong marriages are key to reducing poverty, it offers little in the way of a solution (more contraception, that’s the ticket!). Conservatives want to reform the tax code and entitlements so that married families no longer face penalties for staying whole.

Poverty is much more complex than a simple lack of resources. It is a lack of opportunity, fueled by institutional barriers. With this understanding, most Americans support a limited role for government in meeting the dire needs of people in desperate situations, but recognize that only free enterprise and equal opportunity can actually lift people out of poverty.

The Shriver Report identifies many serious problems, but sadly offers tired, misguided solutions. A discussion of ‘pushing back from the brink’ of poverty should have included conservative ideas that attack barriers to self-advancement and focus on expanding opportunities and mobility.

Comments

Polititainment

Paltrow: I broke food stamps challenge

Gwyneth Paltrow, who was recently challenged to spend only $29 on food for a week to experience living on food stamps, broke her low-budget diet for chicken, vegetables and half a bag of licorice.

John Oliver rips patent trolls

John Oliver focused his weekly tirade on "patent trolls"--those who obtain questionable "patents" in order to wrest money from everyone from huge software companies to struggling small stores.

Aykroyd: 'America is flat-out gun crazy'
Comedian and actor Dan Aykroyd has joined the list of Hollywooders with a vocal opinion on firearms, one he was only too happy to share during an interview Friday on“The HuffPost Show.” “America’s flat-out gun crazy. That’s it, man,” he said. While Aykroyd is much gun friendlier than the likes of Liam Neeson, he said […]
'The Simpsons' do not love Ted Cruz back
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may love “The Simpsons,” but the feeling is not mutual, according to the show’s creators. The Republican presidential candidate detailed his love for the show during an interview on The Federalist Radio Hour Thursday, reciting lines from two of his favorite episodes of the cartoon television series. Cruz described the episodes entitled “Round Springfield” (1995) and […]
Ted Cruz loves 'The Simpsons'

Ted Cruz really likes "The Simpsons." The Republican presidential candidate detailed his fandom during an interview on The Federalist Radio Hour Thursday, spotlighting two of his favorite episodes of the cartoon television series.

Video

t u

2016

Koch brothers support Scott Walker in 2016
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may have seen a dip in the 2016 polls this week, but his fundraising efforts are unlikely to do the same. Billionaire conservative political donors Charles and David Koch announced their hope for Walker to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, The New York Times reported Monday. “We will support whoever the candidate is,” David […]
Prostitutes endorse Hillary Clinton

The prostitutes at Dennis Hof's famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, have launched a campaign endorsing Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

Clinton ally defends Hillary's 'dead broke' claims

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe offered a full-throated defense of Hillary Clinton's controversial "dead broke" claims during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Donald Trump: I can beat Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump became the latest in a chorus of 2016 presidential hopefuls to insist that he -- if victorious in the primary -- could topple former secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Fiorina: Big Gov. 'crushing' America's potential
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and likely Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina played up her business background Saturday at theNew Hampshire Republican Party’s First in the Nation leadership summit and assailed big government and “crushing” economic regulations. “The heroes of the American economy are small businesses and family-owned businesses. For the first time in U.S. history, we […]

Policy

How Uber became part of the net neutrality debate

Is Uber's success an argument for or against regulating the internet? Depends on who you ask.

How an Uber driver with a gun saved the day

Free idea for Uber: offer gun-toting drivers as a premium safety service.

The Denver PD tweeted the greatest 4/20 reference

In honor of 4/20, the Denver Police Department tweeted this delightful message to Colorado citizens:

Study: 30% of Millennial men do not have jobs
It’s not a good time to be a Millennial male. According to a recent study released by the Pew Research Center, a whopping 30 percent of Millennial men — defined as those between the ages of 18 and 33 — have no job. Broken down further, 8 percent are unemployed and 22 percent are not […]
Congress may give NSA reform one last chance

Congress may try to rush through one last attempt at passing NSA reform before several Patriot Act provisions sunset in June.