Walk through Chicago. Walk north and south on Pulaski or Ashland. Go further north than Lawrence and further South than 55th street. Note the literal condition of the pavement, the street lights, the signs. Do the same in Atlanta, Columbus, St. Louis, New York. You get the picture. The disparity in infrastructure spending WITHIN THE SAME CITY LIMITS is shocking.
In the 90s, when welfare reform was implemented, most (numerically) of the people who were “kicked off the roles” lived either in under-served inner cities or under-served tiny rural areas. These communities share some common traits: poorly managed or unfunded roads, bridges, and physical Infrastructure, failed or nonexistent economic planning (e.g. No Tax cuts or credits for job creation), and concentrated poverty which undercuts the time, motivation, and access required for successful political lobbying (generating interest from those with the capital or political influence to direct investment).
Therefore, I suggest that we need to acknowledge something. Dependence is the RESULT, not the cause of government spending. For those of us who received Great educations in areas with proactive officials who pounded pavement every single day to bring / bring back jobs, the system works. For some exceptional folks, the system can’t prevent their success. But do we really expect someone who went to school in a system where there were not enough books for every student, or the Windows had holes covered in plastic, while driving over roads with potholes to do as well as the kid whose school had a decently paid career counselor, three MSW guidance counselors, and extra books stacked in piles in clean supply closets?
Poor people are not the one who are taking us for a ride. Our politicoeconomic system has systematically provided greater opportunity to some communities which were not distributed equitably.
Whose life do you real want to be subsidizing through tax investments in schools, roads, protection and tax credits?
I choose the janitors, factory line(wo)men, the burger flippers, the truck drivers, the teachers, the security guards, the nonprofit professionals, the bus drivers, the students, the community organizers, the laid off miners, the dismissed car company employees, the hard working middle & working class whose jobs were moved overseas.
Maybe, rather than clinging to the well disproven false hope of “trickle down”, we should acknowledge that any unbridled capitalism is FOUNDED UPON and will always work to create and enforce the existence of an *underpaid and powerless* working class… The power disparity between capital holders (owners) and labor is a feature, not a bug, in the system. Exploitation must be mitigated by outside forces.
Disclaimer: although I focus on economics in this post, the issues here are also fundamentally distorted by racism. We cannot talk about poverty without talking about redlining, mortgage policies, school funding laws designed to prevent equity, the war “on drugs”, sentencing a policing, and other deeply wrong laws and policies which whether by design or merely in their implementation, conspired to PREVENT a more just society. Racism is (In Part) economic terrorism, and it greatly exacerbates the inequity being recreated.