The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774
In the United States, we are generally told that poverty is a deeply complicated problem whose solution requires dozens of reforms on issues as diverse as public schooling, job training, and marriage.
But it’s not true. High rates of poverty can, as a policy matter, be solved with trivial ease. How? By simply giving the poor money.
Last month, the Census reported that 46.5 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, lived under the poverty line in 2012. While that number sounds disturbingly high, the total amount of money by which they are in poverty is smaller than you’d think. In 2012, those 46.5 million impoverished Americans were, collectively, $175 billion dollars below the poverty line. That figure is equivalent to 1.08 percent of the country’s GDP, one-quarter of the country’s $700 billion military budget, and exactly what we spend on Social Security disability benefits. Finding an optimal way to get $175 billion to these 46.5 million people is all that stands in the way of a country with an official poverty rate of zero.
Could we afford it? Sure.
How to Cut the Poverty Rate in Half (It's Easy)
MATT BRUENIG AND ELIZABETH STOKER OCT 29 2013
…there is no evidence that the long-term jobless are accumulating in any one industry, which would be a signal that the economy needs to move workers from, say, manufacturing into nursing. Long-term unemployment has hit workers young and old, of all industries, races and backgrounds. But the long-term jobless actually tend to be more educated. And long spells of joblessness have hit black workers especially hard, as well as single parents, the disabled and older workers.
With time, however, even people with desired skills can become “structurally” unemployed. Longer spells of unemployment become harder to explain away. Jobless workers’ skills can atrophy. Job seekers find it harder to appear eager. Wounds become scars.
Caught in a Revolving Door of Unemployment
By ANNIE LOWREY
New York Times
Published: November 16, 2013