The War (For) Poverty

Photo from nypost.com

Photo from nypost.com

Looking back over the last five years under liberal rule, Americans have come to understand a very simple truth at both the state and national level: liberal leadership is an oxymoron. From the Governor’s mansion to the White House, the shortcomings of the liberal agenda have become a spectacle for the nation to witness; but the problem runs deeper than just the people in charge.

For example, New Yorkers have become all too familiar with this concept. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has virtually waged his own war for poverty by targeting and shutting down charter schools for underprivileged students. No matter that these schools have astonishingly higher test scores in almost every category compared to their public school counterparts. Rather than finding ways to capitalize on the tremendous work of these schools to educate students, de Blasio has blocked efforts with no clear alternative. But here’s the catch: this same platform was what got him 73 percent of the vote in his mayoral election.  How is this possible?

Similarly, the President has seen his approval rating drop to the low 40s as the “deadline” for healthcare enrollment approaches next week. He claimed the American people could keep their own insurance if they liked, but apparently that was just a nice thought. He said you could keep your doctor too, which has also been rescinded. Apparently this is what happens when you have to pass a bill to see what is in it. The administration has chosen to adopt executive orders and partisan strong arming as its standard operating procedures. However, as with de Blasio, this same agenda is what won the President both elections.

The answer for why voters experience such a disconnect with their lefty representatives is the vicious cycle perpetuated by the core beliefs of liberalism. Their most basic maxim is the more government the better. The only way to expand government power is to have elected officials create legislation to do so. And the only way to ensure those officials are elected is to make voters dependent on that legislation.

As a result, the stereotypes of liberals being the party of social justice and equality and conservatives as the enemy of the poor are ideologically reversed. In reality, liberals have no voter base if their constituency weans themselves off their government programs. In contrast, conservatives believe in the ownership of wealth, fighting for policy that creates opportunity for individuals rather than creating a state of dependency (i.e. welfare).

Because of this fundamental difference, liberals have no choice but to lambast and ridicule comments like those made by Paul Ryan about poverty’s roots in culture rather than allegedly oppressive conservative policy.

For if those left of center conceded that issues like poverty are rooted more deeply than dollars and cents, they put themselves in jeopardy of losing the vast majority of their voter base in exchange for more opportunity for those who need it most. God forbid.

If you would like to find out what innovative ideas are coming out of the states to address issues like these, check out spn.org/directory for a list of state think tanks.

SOTU: Real Solutions for Income Inequality

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We can expect President Obama to come out swinging on the issues of income inequality and economic mobility in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

In an email to supporters Saturday, senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote that Obama ‘will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it.’

While it’s coincidental that the SOTU falls during National School Choice Week, the president should take heed of the national campaign to bring educational opportunity to all students. If the goal is to truly set out concrete proposals to help the middle class and empower people to rise out of poverty, then we should look for solutions that get to the root of the problem.

Study after study on poverty in America demonstrate that graduating high school is correlated to staying out of poverty for life. It’s not fair that kids in some zip codes start off with better teachers and learning environments that provide better odds of success, while others are given no options and stuck in failing schools.

So, rather than addressing the gaping wound of poverty with band-aids like a mandated minimum wage or redistribution of wealth through entitlements, shouldn’t we start with giving all Americans equal opportunity to succeed early in life?

If educational opportunity is an issue you are interested in, then take action and join the national movement for educational opportunity this week. There are many ways to bring more opportunity to students, whether through reforming traditional public schools and public magnet schools or through public charter schools, voucher programs, education savings accounts, private and faith-based schools, online learning, or homeschooling.

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