The problems with poverty are multi-faceted, including both causes and effects that are systemic and … dare it be said … self-sustaining and dynamic in nature, often exacerbating the original causes and creating an ever-increasing detrimental impact for those under its grasp. There should be no doubt at this stage, that the many government “social assistance” programs have led to an expansion of the causes and subsequently, to the number of people adversely impacted and continuing to live in impoverished conditions. The same path is being actively sought out by some who believe that we can just hand someone a minimal cash paycheck each and every month and all of these problems will magically disappear.
Unfortunately, tragically even, the solutions are once again singular in nature. These are singular solutions to complex problems, that accomplish nothing more than temporarily alleviating singular symptoms and at the same time, they continue to exacerbate the underlying causes to these many social challenges. This of course, begs the question as to why? While it would be easy to blame government and let it be at that, this is in fact, only a portion of the problem.
A great many impoverished individuals and families have been living in the same sparse and harsh conditions for multiple generations. As such, these people are historically unprepared to become productive and contributing members of the surrounding societal construct. It is not necessarily that these people are incapable of assimilating into “normal” society, but that through their isolation and separation from that society through the government “social assistance” programs, that these people have been forced into a position to create their own societal constructs, often independent of the surrounding body of law and societal norms and standards. In short, those portions of the locale wherein these people have been segregated, will be effectively established as a separate zone, often replete with its own rules and societal construct … albeit generally at a much smaller scale and without any official status.
There is ample evidence of this in practice in the inner cities in general and more notably perhaps, in sections with large areas of section eight housing or housing projects within the United States. The isolation of these groups, by and large, has resulted in sub-cultures that, for the local residents, often becomes more prevalent and dominant than the official “ruling body” or government. This is often made evident in the inability of the police to extract information from victims regarding their attackers, as their attackers, however abhorrent to their local society, are still part of the “us” and not one of “them” … in short, they refuse to turn their over to the legal authorities because of the more prevalent, more pressing social standards within their sub-sect of the community.
When circumstances such as these expand across multiple generations, the underlying issues become even more prevalent as current and future generations are brought up in social environments wherein their division and segregation … and their need to be as fully self-reliant as possible at the social level, becomes the norm … or just the way things are. By the time the third generation is being born and raised in such an unstable and isolated social development, it will become a virtual inevitability and escape will generally be held to be nothing more than a distant dream for the occasional “deluded” soul who honestly believes that they are capable of rising above their own oppression.
“Social Assistance” programs will provide for the bare minimal basic needs of these people, leaving them reliant on their own means to make any marked improvement in their median quality of life. In most cases, this involves criminal activity, often within their own sub-sects of the community, venturing out rarely so as to remain more inconspicuous in their extra-judicial activities. These efforts are not at all discouraged, as there is an unwritten law wherein those within this local, segregated societal development, will not turn any of their own over to the outside authorities as was previously noted above. While this may not be an active encouragement, it certainly provides no deterrent to criminal behavior. This reflects negatively on the youth within these communities as those who have more and are subsequently viewed as being more “successful”, are often criminal in nature. Furthermore, they can see that any members of their community who have made an effort to rise above the fray are held in contempt, chastised and even ostracized if not literally beaten and abused for their efforts.
Fathers are encouraged by government and often the mothers themselves, to abandon their children in order to allow for the provision of expanded benefits from the government. Children born to married parents will reduce the level of assistance provided to the family as a whole. In short, the net result is the replacement of the nuclear family unit with government. Why should the father work to provide less benefits for the children than the government will if the mother remains unwed? Furthermore, the children are now growing up in crime-ridden areas without any disciplinary father figure other than the state … wherein it becomes something of a challenge to remain unknown by the state, while at the same time, flaunting the criminal gains within the local sub-sect of society. Incarceration is oft seen as something of a rite of passage among the youth within these communities.
It is impossible to reward poor life choices and (financially) punish poor life choices and expect for any section of society to evolve in a positive fashion under such circumstances. It is perhaps even more challenging, even on the best of days, to believe that the greatest minds that government has to offer could not have foreseen the consequences of these programs. Indeed, if one were to listen to the words direct from Lyndon Baines Johnson, it would be very easy to imagine that these were indeed the intended consequences, all under the guise of “social assistance” and “helping the poor”… while in fact doing nothing more than intentionally creating a dependency class who would then demand a continuation of the very programs keeping them impoverished.
For any viable solution, the end result will inevitably raise cries from the masses as they will be seen as cruel and unjust from the Statist … those who believe that only the State has the capacity or the responsibility to assist the impoverished … and those more libertarian minded individuals who will invariably commence with cries of communism and socialism. Viable and “good” life choices must be (financially) rewarded while poor life choices are (financially) punished. The only real question should be just how such a system would be setup and established. The key words are “individual responsibility”. It must also be accompanied by a realization that there will inevitably be some people who are incapable of receiving assistance and who will fall by the wayside and through the proverbial cracks. While such numbers do exist, this is where the function of the church and other social organizations should come in to play to pick up the slack. There is no room however, for such benevolence on the part of government and at the sole expense of the taxpayer.
Now if you are still reading after that harsh slap in the face from reality, I will suppose that you are interested in viable solutions and will spell them out so that they function for the benefit of those people who need the assistance the most, and without being an unsustainable drain on the more productive and contributing members of society … read those paying taxes and working and already established as functional and contributing members of society. NOTE: That is not to say that there will not be initial costs with these programs, but that the returns to society and financially, will ultimately pay the vast majority … if not for all of these programs.
The first move would be to get rid of section eight housing and housing projects in their current form … please note the last part of that sentence … “in their current form”. Housing should be integrated into “normal” society, though on a somewhat different level than it is in the United Kingdom where similar programs are also in place. If people are going to receive government subsidized housing, they must be similarly tasked with the maintenance and upkeep of said property. Warnings may be given at first, and assistance provided if necessary to teach people how to maintain their homes, but it should be made clear that if you are receiving something for free, it is going to cost you, if nothing else, in terms of the routine maintenance of the house or apartment. A failure to do so will result in people ending up in homeless shelters or on the streets. Is that harsh? Perhaps it is overly harsh, but the sad fact of the matter is that the current systems in place have exacerbated the conditions of poverty among those who are most in need of receiving a hand up.
This provision of housing would come with certain other restrictions as well. Parents without any viable skills should be required to participate in training, made available to them in accordance with their individual aptitudes. Aptitude batteries are standard tests for anyone joining the military and even those most basic of aptitude exams, have some degree of being capable of determining the particular strengths and weaknesses of the individual. Those families and/or individuals whose language skills are insufficient for the taking of such exams, should be required to attend language schooling in order to learn the common language of the host nation. A failure to maintain average standards (a C grade) would likewise find themselves at risk of losing their home and assistance. The financial assistance provided in addition to the provision of housing would be dependent on the participation of the individual(s) in training in their respective areas of study.
At such a time as the results of the aptitude batteries are in, the individuals should be offered a selection of career and training options based on their aptitude test results. Such restrictions, while maybe seeming to be oppressive, would also ensure a better opportunity for the success in the respective career choices. Training courses would be provided free of charge to the persons, with minimal standards established so as to ensure the continuation of their financial support throughout the term of said schooling. This is relevant as some persons will have more developed skills in scholastic pursuits, while others may be better served with technical and/or vocational training. Upon the successful conclusion of the educational process, the person will be committed to serving as a worker for the State for a set period of time, such times to vary dependent on the financial gain or benefit to the State in relation to the cost of the educational process.
During the latter phases of work for the State, a process for job placement in the private sector should commence. It is possible that during such phases, some job requirements may demand an immediate hire, thus requiring an individual to leave their position working for the State before such a time as their service is fully completed. Given the potential that these people are serving in something of a more perfunctory capacity, this should not prove to be a major obstacle and allowances should be made for their introduction into the work force as soon as possible. Thus, a select period of time as necessary at the end of service to the State may be waived in order to allow the individual to enter the private work force at the earliest possible point in time, even if it results in a minor loss to the State.
Parents who elect not to work, but rather to raise their children … an important task and still very much work in every sense of the word, may additionally be trained so as to allow for the provision of care for other children whose parents have opted for employment in the service of others or for educational pursuits. While not all of these tasks will take place in the home, they should still provide for a means to allow the parents to provide individual and perso (That Will Never Happen)nalized care for their children, while still providing a viable and valuable contribution to society as a whole.
In regards to the children of families receiving assistance, additional requirements should be made regarding their schooling and ability to more fully assimilate into “normal” society if the family is to continue to receive benefits. The educational institutions in their current form are not wholly suited towards this arrangement, so a reintroduction of scholastic and vocational and even gainful employment for school credits must be implemented as well. Again, there should be more of a focus on the aptitude of the individual and less focus on teaching to the test … a system which has failed not only the students, but society as a whole … though it may possibly be said that these have proven extremely beneficial to the State in the creation of a class wholly dependent on the State for their existence, and who are not likely to openly rebel against the system in place.
Each and every State within the USA has a State or Community run educational institution. A couple of years in such programs is going to cost substantially less than multiple generations of familial welfare payments and is, especially when given the potential for returns, a much better deal for the State and for the taxpaying, productive and contributing members of existing society. The question now is, will the State be willing to make the changes necessary in order to create a new generation of capable, productive, contributing and independent civilians within their society.