Poverty in America | Finbarr Timbers

There was a fascinating piece in this week’s Sunday Times by Nicolas Kristof:

“This is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.”

I liked his piece as it exposed the poverty that is present very close to home. The major local aid fundraisers that I am aware of (Scona Leadership, for example) tend to focus on Africa and on third world countries- i.e. ‘sexy problems’ – over those that are closer to home. It would be very interesting to see a ‘Appalachia Children’s Project’ at the University of Alberta in addition to the Ainembabazi Children’s project (with all due respect- ACP is an organisation that does great work).

My favorite elitist conservative political scientist, Charles Murray , (best known for The Bell Curve ; his book Coming Apart was one of my favorite books of 2012) had a great commentary on Kristof’s piece:

“…programs like Food Stamps and the Supplemental Security Income program constantly expand. Whenever the people who administer the programs run into a case of a genuinely needy person who has been excluded under a current rule, they tend to redefine the rule or otherwise alter the program’s administration to be more inclusive, which in turn brings more people who don’t need the social transfer under its umbrella.”

I’m not sure that I agree with him 100%, as he seems to be dismissive of the possibility of circumstances beyond one’s control impacting one’s life negatively (i.e. growing up poor in the Appalachians), but his writing always makes me see an issue in a different light.

Finbarr Timbers is in his third year of a degree in Economics and Mathematics. He is currently furiously procrastinating.

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