I just finished reading an opinion piece on the Reuters iPad app about the former Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan’s new detailed anti-poverty plan. There isn’t much to not like about the plan, if considered in a vacuum, as it follows Ryan’s oft repeated desire to allow more state and local control over programs that would receive block grants from the Federal government. But rather than just throwing money at states and locales without accountability, this plan features identification and assessment of needs on a family by family basis, and seeks to provide aid in key areas of need depending on needs identified. In the brief outline of the plan, there is a distinction made between families that have fallen on hard times and those that are caught in generational poverty as the effective remediation of each requires different approaches.
I am pretty surprised by the thoughtfulness of the plan given that the members of his party over the last handful of years have been struck by a certain kind of smugness and snobbishness that I found to be quite off-putting.
This post really isn’t about Paul Ryan, though. About two articles down the list from the piece that featured Ryan’s new plan, was a criticism of Obama’s job training programs, claiming that $18 Billion dollars are spent each year on job training to turn out trained, but still unemployed people. So, it would seem sort of a contradiction to praise Ryan’s new plan that would consolidate aid programs into what seems would be a more effective multi-faceted plan that includes a training component, then in the next breath criticize Obama’s wasted job training programs.
To me though, it is quite consistent, illustrating the lack of distance between Obama and Ryan. Both men appear to be “stuck” on the inflation-targeting madness that, by necessity, caps growth below potential, and both try to address the problems this policy creates in the labor market by switching around the kinds hoops people must jump through in order to get help when it is desperately needed. For sure, Ryan’s plan is better than just demanding employment, but it is just one part of a policy component toward effectively addressing poverty.
The best anti-poverty program in the world, at least in my somewhat lucid imagination, is an economic world with ample opportunity. At the risk of being quite bold and out on the edge, we just can’t get there with sadomonetarists and stock-pickers running the Fed, placing a generalized wet blanket on potential economic activity of all kinds. The important take away here is that we have to stop creating poverty with tight money before we can alleviate it, and we have to go even farther than that to make it a rarity.