Poverty: Policies and Possibilities
By: Shannon Joyce Prince
Reprinted From Black Agenda Report
“Poor people can use themselves as weapons against poverty.”
With the recession imperiling the nation’s well-being, poverty is on everyone’s mind regardless of their political orientation. Yet too often the poor are cast as ignorant and impotent pawns needing either a kick in the pants or a magical cocktail of resources and programs. The dialogue typically stalls around what “we” must do for or to “them” as though the poor lack ingenuity and agency.
In this commentary I identify four ideas that can be used to battle poverty: ending marriage penalties, deregulating selected industries, creating tax-funded social programs run by the poor, and creating community gardens. [...]
The problem often isn’t that the poor aren’t pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but rather when they do so they are told they don’t have the appropriate credentials. [...] For example, many poor black women braid hair as a way of making money. However, as the National Center for Public Policy Research points out, many states have threatened these women with arrest because they don’t have cosmetology licenses; licenses that often demand taking courses that cost around $10,000, and frequently don’t even cover hair braiding in their curriculum [...]
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