An income inequality panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference agreed that the 50-year “War on Poverty” has failed to enrich the poor and that family breakdown is contributing to the problem.
“The most important cultural bulwark to getting ahead in America is marriage, which is increasingly an institution just for the well-educated,” said Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. Lowry argued in a panel on Thursday that the poverty problem has less to do with income inequality than with income mobility, “the question of whether people on the bottom are getting ahead.” He declared that if Mark Zuckerberg lost all his wealth tomorrow, that would help no one.
Lowry summed up the path to prosperity in two words: liberty and responsibility. If someone has the liberty to create value in the economy and the responsibility to live prudently, they will get ahead. “The research shows it’s very easy” to escape being poor, he explained. “If you graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and get married before you have kids, your odds of being poor in America are extremely slim.”
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, agreed, pointing to the success of welfare reform. “15 trillion dollars have been spent on the War on Poverty – enough to fund every operation in the federal government for four years,” but “10 million more people are in poverty today than before the war started,” he pointed out. In 1996, however, welfare reform caused a dramatic drop in poverty within one year, he argued.
For welfare programs, Scalise suggested adding “a requirement that if you can get a job you have to.” He attacked Obamacare as a fundamentally anti-jobs policy. “We have a law on the books right now with perverse incentives to reduce your workforce and the number of hours your employees work,” the congressman stated. The president’s healthcare law is “forcing millions of people to lose their jobs and cut their businesses.”
Evan Sayet, a Jewish American stand-up comedian and conservative speaker and author of KinderGarden Of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks, argued that the prosperity America has enjoyed since World War II has enabled a new liberal mindset that values freedom over work. “As far as having the right values to protect you from the bad things, everything was allowed to change after World War II,” Sayet said. He explained that disease, hunger, poverty, and physical pain have each been nearly completely vanquished at that time.
SOURCE: Tyler O’Neil