Nancy Cauthen, deputy director of the National Center for Children in Poverty, has a poverty of understanding. She is so clear on this issue that she has taken to writing about it. Unfortunately, I have to wonder what would she do if there were no children in poverty? I don't mean to be excessively cynical, but I think that when people's words are directly aligned with the source of their income, a reasonable person should take them with a grain of salt. For example, she says:
But research indicates that it takes an income of anywhere between one and a half to three times the current poverty level to meet basic family needs.
And yet somehow people manage to live. What does that tell you? It suggests two things to me:
That "basic family needs" are exaggerated. Poor people do not need to be told that they're poor and need to be helped. My middle-class sensibilities are meaningless to someone without my income. Sure, I value having an outlet every eight feet of linear wall space (or whatever is the exact requirement of the UBC -- Uniform Building Code), but that's probably not a concern of someone without anything to plug in. Requirements like these make houses more expensive for everyone, but relatively less for the rich and relatively more for the poor, and infinitely more for the homeless.
Or that people are lying about their income. It's well-known that people lie about what they throw out. You can go to their door and ask them what they threw out, and then go look in their garbage and ... well, they lied. So if people are willing to lie about their garbage, why wouldn't they lie about their income? Remember what I said above: if people's words are aligned with the source of their income, be suspicious. Because of means-based poverty assistance, and income taxes, everyone has an interest in understating their actual income.
Then she asks "So what can be done?" and answers her own question with "... it's time to talk also about the obligations of government to its citizens." Ahhhhh, now we get to the prescription: more subsidies. I'm sorry, but leftist strategies are the cause of our current problems, not the solution to them. We need to be clear: government spending does not create charity; government spending *displaces* private charity. The question is not whether people will help; the question is how they will help. The decision is not between government help and no help but instead between government help and private help. Remember: a government with enough power to tax to help the poor is a government with the ability to wage a permanent floating war.