By Amanda Mackie
A recent New York Time article explored the idea that most Americans believe jobs are the solution to poverty – yet in 2016, there were 7.6 million Americans who fell into the working poor category. “Working poor” seems contradictory, doesn’t it? The American Dream tells us that if you work hard enough, you will bring home enough money to take care of your family. If you aren’t making enough, you aren’t working hard enough. The economy is strong and there are jobs unfilled – so why, then, is the poverty level relatively stagnant?
Poverty has become politicized –that “welfare” programs have created a sense of entitlement and dependence, and that only negative incentives – such as work requirements and drug testing will relieve this. We have moved away from looking at individuals and systemic impact on the family, and instead focus on talking points and sounds bites that the public can relate to.
I invite you to read this article with an open mind – to read about Vanessa’s efforts to live the American Dream, to read about the impact of welfare reform, and the erroneous assumption that the poor do not work.
Amanda Mackie is the Executive Director for Minnesota Valley Action Council