Poverty: A Simple Problem and No Solution?

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A friend of mine sent me this article, Liberal Policies Have Destroyed the Black Family, and asked,

“Ignoring the fact that he obviously has a distaste for liberals and seems angry, what’s your take on the content?”

To summarize, Sheriff David Clarke (an African-American man) believes that liberal policies (lowering standards for young people, welfare for adults) are a form of modern racism. You should read the entire article, but the gist is that he says that bad parenting is the cause and result of such liberal policies.

“We take kids out of the home with early childhood education programs, and the government feeds them breakfast, lunch and dinner, and provides after-school programs.

Who needs parents in the black community anymore?”

So what’s my take? First, my friend is correct — Sheriff Clarke seems very angry, at liberals in particular.

Second, Sheriff Clarke is correct . . . to a certain extent.

Right, and Wrong

I think Clarke has some valid points, such as when he notes that “kids suffer from a lot of emotional baggage spawned by ineffective parenting,” and “our kids are chained to urban failing schools and more young black men are unemployed and in jail and prison.”

But in the middle of these truths, we find emotional rhetoric and unsubstantiated opinions, and he does not make an evidenced-base case for what are causes and what are the effects. Remember, correlation is not necessarily causation.

And beyond his incomplete rationale, I think he makes two big mistakes on the issue of poverty: oversimplifying the problem and not providing a solution.

I’m not disagreeing with him in all his points, but what I’ve  learned is that poverty is more complicated than just saying, “You parents need to do better.” And that’s it. That’s the core of his solution. Work harder, make better choices, and vote Republican.

Perhaps Sheriff Clarke believes more conservative policy will help fix the poverty issue. Maybe, for example, he thinks that a parent should lose their SNAP benefits if they test positive for illegal drugs. But do you see what this means? If a kid’s parents uses drugs, that kid should go hungry.

So What’s the Solution?

I don’t think anyone is arguing that people should always have welfare assistance. But the bigger issue is how do we help people get off of it. We need to help parents and youth change their mindsets. But this doesn’t happen with a rant, or with giving simple answers that are not fully played out.

A change in mindset happens through relationships, through long-term mentoring, and through the Holy Spirit.

That’s my solution to the not-so-simple problem of poverty.

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**image courtesy of Daino_16 via sxc.hu

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