Focus on lower Poverty Rate overnight misleading

There is an article title “How to Dramatically Lower the Poverty Rate Overnight” written by Eric Pianin for The Fiscal Times which has plenty of excellent points about those who qualify not using the programs as established and how that could have greatly reduced the number of Americans living in poverty but they missed one essential link as to why.

In the article it speaks about “But a new study by the Brookings Institution argues that it might be a lot easier to significantly reduce poverty in the U.S by getting more people to take advantage of existing anti-poverty programs for which they are already eligible.  In fact, the report asserts,  the poverty rate would have been 20 percent lower in 1998 if all families with children had participated in the programs for which they were eligible, and “deep poverty”– income below half the federal poverty level –would have been 70 percent lower. “Sometimes the best policy is [simply] to make existing programs reach further, rather than inventing new ones,” wrote Richard V. Reeves, policy director of Brookings’ Center on Children and Families, and Edward Rodriguez, a research assistant. The report – drawn from a recent Urban Institute analysis of data– offers some intriguing insights to the gross under utilization of a handful of vital government anti-poverty and social safety net programs. Among them: the National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),  the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. According to the latest data, 17 percent of those eligible for both the school lunch program and food stamps (SNAP) don’t enroll in those programs; 20 percent of Americans eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit don’t sign up; and fully 37 percent of mothers and children who are entitled to take part in WIC have not enrolled. So why don’t more people participate in these programs? Reeves and Rodríguez say it seems unlikely that so many people don’t take part because of personal preferences or access to other forms of support – such as church, community or local government services. “More likely they struggle to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of receipt,” they wrote.  The reasons are varied: A 2001 New York State report cited long office wait times (27 percent of respondents waited over an hour to re certify their eligibility), trouble finding or paying for transportation, difficulty taking time off from work and childcare issues among the most common reasons for non-participation.”  Now while all of these are good reasons, it is misleading because it seems to ignore the primary reason which was also captured in this article when the writer wrote “One reason not mentioned in the study but likely a factor is pride and embarrassment over having to stand in line to apply for social services. Some people just don’t want to do that. Or they may feel uncomfortable with others knowing that their children are participating in government-subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs.”

American society has made it a point to make getting help seem like a bunch of lazy people who take but never give.  Those whom they target with this label know much better and know that they give far more than they will ever get credit for.  Veterans were willing, and some did, give their lives and yet we are still looked upon as lazy or “takers”.  What about those who have no need for these services looking at them and influencing so many others that they are not necessary because they do not need them.  Instead of looking at programs created as the only thing to solve a problem, when are we going to consider all of the factors that can solve it.  It is far more than just people not signing up for them and as soon as we can come to grips with that, the sooner we may just be able to rid this nation of poverty for real.


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