In discussions of poverty’s ills and cures, it doesn’t take long for the subject of root causes to come up. Not everyone agrees what those root causes are, of course—or whose fault they are. But it’s often taken for granted that you can’t just tackle a presenting problem directly; you have to go for the root, whatever it is.
This certainly isn’t always wrong, but it does have a way of obscuring simple, obvious solutions.
So much religious talk is about naming, about describing a general reality in particular terms. This is important. But in our increasingly secular culture, it’s always striking when someone gets at deep religious truth without bothering with religious language.
For instance, Jay Smooth offers a pretty crisp explication here of the nature of sin and virtue.
Some small good news for American low-wage workers: Walmart is increasing its wages at the low end. By April, no Walmart employee will make less than $9 an hour; a year from now it’ll be $10. The retailer is also moving to improve its scheduling practices, a source of worker complaints.
Walmart’s decision is a voluntary one, made for business reasons.
Nor is support for specifically mandatory vaccines found mostly just among us liberals, with our comparative comfort with statism. And some of the best things I’ve read on this have been by right-leaning commentators.
Conservative economist Greg Mankiw has pushed the idea before: raise the gas tax, and offset this by reducing payroll taxes. So has conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, manytimes. He did it again last month.
Specific targets are important in anti-poverty work, and this is an ambitious one (though less ambitious than the report’s title, Ending Child Poverty Now). CDF’s policy proposals include a larger Earned Income Tax Credit and (not or) a higher minimum wage, along with expanded housing subsidies, child care subsidies, and food stamps. Add some more generous rules for tax credit refunds and child support recipients’ federal benefits—along with a new subsidized jobs program—and the whole thing starts to sound pretty expensive.
Dionne Searcey and Robert Gebeloff do a nice job crunching some numbers on what sorts of people are part of the middle class, and how they’re doing (the short version: not great). This caveat of theirs, however, is an important one.
I watched State of the Union on ABC last night. Afterwards, in the brief window of frantic punditry before the rebuttal speech, the talking heads zeroed in on the lack of a conciliatory tone from the president. The GOP flipped the Senate! Shouldn’t Obama play it less arrogant and more chagrined?