Paul Krugman takes on poverty in his column. He’s highlighting new research about the impact of childhood poverty on “the American Dream”.
Unfortunately, while he had strong opinions about the impact of
campaign promises on legislative debates over health care after the
election, he doesn’t acknowledge what we know about public reaction to
use of the language of poverty.
We’ve said it before:
- The U.S. definition of poverty is out of date and flawed.
- Public understanding of the causes of and remedies for poverty hinders adoption of the policy solutions we seek to address it.
- Defining the problem as “poverty” opens the door to a losing scenario in the legislative debate.
Media will portray the options as two competing proposals: one that’s
about our interdependence (comprehensive approach to addressing
inequality and economic mobility) and one that’s not (solve poverty
with marriage and harder work). We already lost that fight in battles
over welfare. Why we would we want to engage in it again?
We present these findings in a variety of media. Check out the newest version of The Mobility Agenda’s “New Lens on Policy”.
We use this powerpoint several times a month (at least) for talks
around the country with all kinds of stakeholders – academics,
advocates, policymakers, elected officials, students, media,
organizers, service providers, etc.
I learn with the audience too. A few weeks ago, I met with a class
of NYU law students and one of them suggested some changes in the
visual presentation that I promptly adopted.
The week before that, I met with community leaders from across the
state of North Carolina. They discussed better ways to present
information to decision makers based on the research I’d presented.
They decided to illustrate systemic solutions like universal access to
health care, retirement options for those without adequate
employer-based options, and guaranteed paid sick days. These are three
of the ideas identified in our scan on better jobs.
It was thrilling to hear that local leaders believe the ideas from
our research also provide the best economic narratives as alternatives
to the traditional sympathy storyline.
View “A New Lens on Policy”.