Saturday, July 15, 2017

Who won that war?

Who's winning the War on Poverty, now 53 years old? The "official" federal poverty rate in in 1964 was 19%; in 2016 it was 16% and the episodic poverty rate was 32%. In Ohio that rate varies by county, with Cuyahoga at 18.2% and Scioto at 23%. Cuyahoga is 64% white and Scioto is 95% white, so it isn't just a race problem.    In the federal plan, we have over 80 anti-poverty programs providing a handsome living for government workers, but apparently not doing much to reduce the rate. Ohio has 48 community action agencies employing 6,500 people spending $450... million serving 700,000 Ohioans. "Hunger" is now called "food insecurity," and in Ohio many college students qualify for food and housing benefits, but probably still can go to rock concerts and beer joints.

My career (veterinary medicine librarian and agriculture librarian) was in pig poop and nematodes (worms), so deciphering government budgets and reports is far above my education level, and after 2008 the reports became even more obscure. Technically, Community Research Partners isn't "government," but the agencies do survive on government money.  I do know the last 8 years made things worse for the entrenched poor, yet you'll hear screeches and head banging from the media and politicians about Republicans who want to kill people if anyone tries to stop this gravey train.

In my county (Franklin) the unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2015, the success of the recovery(?). But 26.3% of the residents receive Medicaid, a poverty program, and 24.5% of the children are considered living in poverty. So does that mean people aren't looking for jobs, or the jobs don't pay well enough to disqualify someone for poverty programs?  Is that why this war will never be won?

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