Great editorial in the Sunday edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times on the war on poverty. As a former VISTA and AmeriCorps volunteer who has experienced poverty and homelessness himself, in childhood and as an adult, I can relate to the vision of eliminating or at least significantly reducing poverty in the USA. Single parents, the working poor and unemployed seriously seeking work deserve special consideration, as do children and the elderly trapped in the poverty cycle.
Raising of the minimum wage would be a great help. Remember that higher minimum wage would produce more consumer demand for goods and services. This is seldom acknowledged by conservatives.
Neither government nor the private sector have all of the answers. Volunteer efforts are very important, but the government must pitch in with help through food stamps, Medicaid, etc.
It is important for helpers of the poor to realize that folks in poverty should not be treated like pitiful creatures who need the enlightened guidance of those better off. In many instances, the poor themselves have a great deal of wisdom to impart to helpers.
There are, of course, a variety of reasons why people fall into a state of poverty, including mental illness, addiction, offender status, lack of education, physical disability, separation/divorce and lack of extended family support. And, yes, in some instances, there are folks who just don’t care to be responsible human beings and who milk the system for selfish purposes. But the latter certainly constitute a minority of those in poverty.
Those hovering in the middle-class range must remember that depending on circumstances, poverty could be just around the corner. A superior attitude is entirely unjustified.
I well remember working with the poor in Mt. Carmel, Illinois; they were at that time were referred to as “river rats” by far too many of higher status. I recall parents and children who had to huddle in bed with no heat, just to avoid hypothermia. Such images are indelibly printed in my memory.
Thank you, again, Citizen-Times, for highlighting this problem. We have a significant population of those in poverty living in Asheville. They are our fellow citizens and brothers and sisters. Let us not forget that. There is much hidden poverty in Asheville, too. Our city’s image of being a mecca for tourism and the arts obscures the fact that many find artists themselves are themselves entrenched in poverty, and we have a significant homeless population.