Paul Krugman on poverty

Today, I ran across a New York Times column from last year about poverty. It’s titled “Poverty is Poison” and written by Paul Krugman, the 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.

If you haven’t seen this before, it’s worth a read. Click here to check out Krugman’s call for our country to fulfill the mission LBJ set out 45 years ago with his War on Poverty.

Here’s an excerpt:

“America’s failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially among children, should provoke a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately, what it often seems to provoke instead is great creativity in making excuses.

Some of these excuses take the form of assertions that America’s poor really aren’t all that poor — a claim that always has me wondering whether those making it watched any TV during Hurricane Katrina, or for that matter have ever looked around them while visiting a major American city.

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common. According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents in the bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent chance of staying there — and almost a two-thirds chance of remaining stuck if they’re black.

That’s not surprising. Growing up in poverty puts you at a disadvantage at every step.”

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