It’s past time for a breakthrough. January marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Debates continue with some saying we lost the war, and others saying we won many battles. Objective analysis shows clearly that many people’s lives were positively impacted by programs started then, and that poverty has fallen dramatically for the elderly. But overall the needle has barely budged on the numbers and percentages of people that are poor.
Many forces are at play that have changed the economic game in the US since the 1960’s of course – from globalization to dramatic technological change. Given that, it is surprising how little discussion there has been about new solutions to poverty that have emerged at the community level. And it is dispiriting to continue to watch commentators on all ends of the political spectrum stay in their respective corners, rather than engage in order to figure out and drive innovation.
One positive turn of events worth checking out — there has been more attention to poverty, jobs and job creation in the US among think tanks on all sides of the political spectrum, foundations, nonprofits, business, government and in the media than we have seen in a long time. The American Enterprise Institute is hosting a forum in Washington, D.C. next Monday to assess the relative benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit and raising the minimum wage in addressing poverty. The United Way of the Bay Area has launched an inspiring campaign to cut poverty in half in the Bay Area.
Here at REDF we are focused on access to jobs and job creation for people who face chronic unemployment – those who were ‘long term unemployed’ long before now — the aftermath of the last recession. And we see hopeful signs all over the country of businesses that reach out to include people who have not had a chance in their workforce, find new ways to retain and advance their front line employees, and do well by doing good. I will have a chance to speak about this in Washington, D.C. at a panel discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute next Monday – streaming live.
We are continuing to post a variety of views on REDF’s website to stimulate action on job access and job creation. I urge you to engage in the conversation and post your comments.
This post is part of the War on Poverty blog series from REDF.