One of the functions of the Heritage Foundation is to provide talking points to wing-nut bloggers. Robert Rector, a long-term poverty buff at the Heritage Foundation is a good example. In a September, 2011 report, he and Rachel Sheffield explain that the poor have it really great in the US. Some of them have flat screen TVs, washing machines, computers and cars, and sometimes all four! They get lots of money from charity, and from their boyfriends and so they are fine. And, of course, it’s their fault they’re poor:
Among families with children, the collapse of marriage and erosion of the work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty. When the recession ends, welfare policy must require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. It should also strengthen marriage in low-income communities rather than ignore and penalize it.
Of course, that last is reference to Rector’s claim to fame, his role in creating Bill Clinton’s end to welfare as we know it. He’s sticking by that go to work thing. The average poor person, he says, works only 16 hours a week. They need to get married and work more, and Rector is just the man to make them.
Rector and Sheffield claim that liberals say that the poor suffer in other ways.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of poor households have an adequate and reasonably steady supply of food, are not hungry, and are well housed.
We’ll just ignore that minority. Even better, most Americans think that you aren’t poor if you live that well. Rector hides the fact that one reason so many poor aren’t dying in the streets is Government programs, like food stamps, Medicare and SCHIP, which isn’t even mentioned in the report. Rector and Sheffield see this as proof that the poor are dependent on government aid, and that we should “reorient the massive welfare state to create self-sufficient prosperity rather than expanded dependence.” I wonder if they feel the same way about subsidies to the rich, like tax-deductible contributions to the Heritage Foundations. Read the rest of this entry →