Poverty: Giving a Damn
Greg Kaufman of The Nation reports from a House hearing on poverty which was billed like a technocrat’s version of a summer blockbuster: “War on Poverty: A Progress Report”:
[O]ne of the three Republican witnesses—University of Maryland professor Doug Besharov, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Social and Individual Responsibility Project—was there to discuss incentives to help people get out of poverty. So it was surprising that he was unsure what the current federal minimum wage pays.
“The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, correct?” said New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, trying to pivot to a discussion about good jobs as the best anti-poverty program.
“Uh, it could be,” said Besharov. “I—I don’t know the exact number. It’s around there.”
Texas Republican Congressman Roger Williams described himself as “a job creator” who has owned and operated his family car business for forty-two years.
“Don’t you think a lot of this debate is the fact we’ve lost our family values? We’ve got single parents and so forth and we need to get back to that?” Williams asked Sister Simone.
You’ll hear, often from Paul Ryan and his fans, that rightwing economic policies aren’t just morally superior to left-liberalism, but are operationally superior too. The idea is that the free market is the best way to solve poverty, if only liberals and Democrats would let the nation try it.
Why Democrats and liberals won’t, which seems like a pretty important question, is left vague, but often amounts to “Because then they’d have no one to vote for them.”
So, because they’re evil, basically.
Anyway, it’s just awful hard for me to take the technocratically-minded conservative arguments especially seriously when it’s so evident that many conservatives — high-up ones, not just low-level activists — really don’t give a damn about poverty. I mean, how much work does it take to find out the minimum wage, especially when it’s ostensibly part of your area of expertise?