Poor and poorer: Arkansas is still poor, but not as poor as before the War on Poverty | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Poor and poorer: Arkansas is still poor, but not as poor as before the War on Poverty

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 12:28 PM

MOVING UP: The situation has improved from conditions reflected in Ben Shahn's powerful Ozarks photos in the 1930s. But the safety net is fraying.
  • MOVING UP: The situation has improved from conditions reflected in Ben Shahn's powerful Ozarks photos in the 1930s. But the safety net is fraying.

Stateline  provides an interesting report on the state of poverty in America 50 years after LBJ launched his  War on Poverty.

A failure? Not at all, though the effects aren't even across the country.

Take Arkansas. In 1959, its poverty rate was more than 47 percent. In the most recent Census, it was 20.1 percent. In 1959, the average rate of poverty nationally was 24 percent. Today it's 14 percent. Arkansas still lags, but not so far. And thank goodness for Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico. It could be worse. (The poverty rate in current dollars is $23,800 for a family of four. This is right around the $10.10/hour minimum wage proposal President Obama has made.)

The bad news is that Arkansas is in the throes of a political revolution that is aimed at replicating conditions that the War on Poverty addressed. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. All these things eased the pain of poverty and helped families to a greater shot at the stability necessary to improve their lot. These are the very "entitlements" under attack by Republican politicians. Tom Cotton, the extremist Republican given a strong chance to beat Mark Pryor, just voted against a farm bill because it spends too much money on food stamps.

From Stateline:

Experts say that in some regions, the same factors that caused poverty decades ago persist today. Among them are a less-educated workforce, lower rates of health insurance, low participation rates in safety-net programs and long distances to major cities and metropolitan areas with plentiful jobs.

Cotton and Co: Unemployment benefits? Cut them off. Health insurance?. If you can't save enough to pay for it on your $6/hour job you aren't working hard enough. Food stamps? Everybody on food stamps drives a new SUV and buys lobster and T-bones with the stamps. Workers comp? Only deadbeats claim compensation for workplace injuries. Unions? Bad for business. Social security? Privatize it. Military pensions? Privatize them.

To the extent Arkansas made any progress the last half-century it's in large part because the prevailing political winds didn't pledge devotion to every single element of that agenda. In Republican orthodoxy, no exceptions are allowed.

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • UPDATE: Amazon's HQ2: Looks like a no-go for Little Rock

    Thinking positive in advance of Little Rock's announcement of its response to Amazon's request for bids to host a new headquarters. Perhaps it will just be an announcement for a new city promotional campaign.
  • If Cotton tapped for CIA, then what?

    Times columnist Jay Barth speculates this week on the fallout should Sen. Tom Cotton be appointed as Donald Trump's CIA director (itself only speculation at this point).
  • Little Rock to reveal bid for Amazon headquarters

    Thursday is the deadline for cities to make a pitch for Amazon's second headquarters and Little Rock will unveil its proposal at a 10:30 a.m. news conference Thursday in the Venture Center in the city's Technology Park development on Main Street.
  • Environmental group finds agricultural chemicals in Arkansas drinking water

    The Environmental Working Group released a report this week that asserts that the drinking water for about 200,000 Arkansans contains unsafe levels of chemicals related to industrial agriculture. Another environmental group has used the occasion to call for Tyson Foods to do something about it.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation