Government intervention to help the poor often has the opposite effect.

In a recent report by Heritage titled, Big Government Policies that Hurt the Poor and How to Address Them, experts Daren Bakst and Patrick Tyrrell clearly explain changes that need to be made in order to boost the American economy and help those in need.

The key takeaways are:

  • Concern for the poor is often equated with expanding government. In reality, government policies often makes it harder for those striving to make ends meet.
  • Many of the policies drive up consumer prices, for items such as food and energy, which disproportionately hurt the poor.
  • All levels of government—local, state, and federal—need to look honestly at how they contribute to the poverty problem.

You can read the full report now or download it for future reference.

What do you believe is the best approach to addressing poverty in America?

Comments (48)

Janelle Nowell - April 15, 2017

The best approach to stopping any poverty that may exist in the United States is to hire Americans, not foreign workers.

Jim Anderson - April 15, 2017

I believe poverty should be addressed by indiviuals and local civic or religious organizations. I do not believe it should be addressed by the federal government. I think even state governments would be better off not being involved.

Gordon T. Ray - April 15, 2017

I think steps outlined by Heritage represent the best way to go

David Humphries - April 15, 2017

We have spent trillions of taxpayers money to “fight poverty” and it is a miserable failure. The best way to combat poverty begins in the family units that have been slaves to entitlements for decades and know no other way to live. We need to get able-bodied people back to work and earn their own way of life. Welfare and unemployment are the biggest drag on taxpayers right now. The work ethic and pursuit of a good education begins in the home- not from the government. Churches, local, state, and federal leaders need to work together to rebuild families and get people off of the government teat through stricter laws for eligibility for welfare programs with extreme oversight to eliminate fraud and abuse which is rampant throughout this country.

James Paul - April 15, 2017

Poverty is brought about primarily by a lack of education and a lack of a strong family environment. The federal government will not solve either of these issues. The free enterprise system void of federal bureaucrats interference can furnish solutions in these problem areas with input from the state and local workers both government and private making decisions based on the local environment of needs and best way to apply available resources.

Chan Bailey - April 15, 2017

Stop rewarding laziness. Provide help only to those who truly need it. Require some type of work or community service from those able to in exchange for their government assistance. And, as pointed out in this report, less government will be better government.

Robert S. Licata - April 15, 2017

Your takeaways are a good start but it should be passed that every charitable item(s) given to the poor, oppressed or out of work individuals should be balanced with a contribution from the person(s) receiving the benefits by seriously and continuously searching and finding a form of work that can lead to eventual recovery from poverty or to a successful job or career. Too many free lunches make Jack a leach.

Mrs. Phyllis Eix - April 15, 2017

I believe that education that trains in job skills and an economy that provides job opportunities, will help lower our poverty rate. we understand there will always have to be a “safety net” for those who need one.

Ann Hilburn - April 15, 2017

Teach job skills, beginning in high school. Prepare people to live off welfare. Revamp laws to encourage fathers to once again be heads of households for children to be in a stable home with both mother and father. Most of this should be done at state level – not the federal government.

Jo-Ann - April 15, 2017

Require training and work for all who are physically able. Limited handouts have always led to people pulling themselves out of poverty. Why don’t we learn from history? Work garners pride, laziness breeds resentment.

Bill Daniel - April 15, 2017

Put people to work by creating jobs and elimination of programs which keep people on the dole without any accountability.

Tom Lanners - April 15, 2017

I have not read Heritage’s latest report on Government programs to help the needy.
They have been a miserable failure. Trillions
spent since L.B.J.’s war on poverty in 1965, and
the poverty rate has not changed.
The Government is largely responsible for the poverty rate. They have contributed mightily
to family breakdown, educational failure, and through rules and regulations, the stifling of job creation.
Get Government to stop with their anti family
policies, get them out of education, and get them off the backs of business, and the poverty rate would change.
If all of the above happened, then churches, charities, private organizations, families, and individuals would once again help the truly
down and out.

Al Wunsch - April 15, 2017

Agree with the sentiments of the comments above. Don’t believe a hand out is ever a good idea and any hand out should be done as the local level where it can be tailored to fit the situation. The war on poverty proves that gov’t poverty fighting programs don’t yield satisfactory results. People need a hand up not out. They should have, with some obvious exceptions (e.g.disabled) to work for any handout. Education & work solve most problems and a virtuous and informed citizenry will prosper.

Gabriel Wigutow - April 15, 2017

Well, I think the best plan is to cut out welfare completely. People will then have more of an incentive to work hard and that will improve things for everything. That, of course, will not exclude private charity.

werner Keil - April 15, 2017

Actually create programs after conversing with many of the poor and tailor their needs in an active way as to extinguish their poverty. Assign I believe you would have to get someone outside of government with a government aide to work with him.

Jerry Metcalf - April 15, 2017

CCC camps put a lot of people to work. When they get tired of working for food they will go get a paying job.

Bill Coates - April 15, 2017

Look up Ben Franklin’s comment on poverty. Our education system is also at fault for not teaching any useful skills or practical knowledge. Parents must make up for that.

Henry Williamson - April 15, 2017

Until we change the mindset of our society, “Poverty” will never be defeated. Poverty has little to do with material assets: it’s a mind thing. Change the mindset and we’ll change the “poverty” equation. As is true of practically everything else, it takes time and a commitment to productivity on everybody’s part. On the other side of the ledger, the tax code should be changed from one on tax on effort to one of tax on desire. The “Fairtax” would accomplish it better than any other plan

Janice Evans - April 15, 2017

There is a proverb that we should continually live by, and it is Biblical: Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat all his days”. Throwing money at programs only benefits the bureaucrats applying and working the programs.

Sonie Thompson - April 15, 2017

First of all we need to stop the flow of illegals and refugees. Let Mexicans come and work temporarily then go home. Tax them if they send American money home.
Let states deal with this and back off all gov’t funds sent to states for various programs as this becomes bribery of sorts.
Stop giving refugees our money to get by on, let churches help them without any gov’t funding.
Scrutinize any gov’t aid such as disability and Medicaid and encourage work instead of people sitting around collecting gov’t welfare.
Encourage a robust economy and scale back gov’t regulations.
With a robust economy, more and more can find work.

G. Allan Barnes - April 15, 2017

Well, for starters, stop all immigration. Some people think it’s their right to come here – it’s not. That would bring wages up and eliminate this $15 minimum wage hooey. Second, do what Reagan proposed (and was exscoriated for) “work fare”. End the cycle of making more welfare recipients. I once was at a Catholic hospital visiting, and I overheard a nun tell a woman she shouldn’t be having so many babies out of wedlock, and she said “why shouldn’t I, I’m making money at it”. The nanny state is alive and well in America. Putting a fence around anything that might hurt you is not the answer.

James R Jones - April 15, 2017

It is enjoyable to read all of these amazing comments by intelligent people; I wish I could write as well.
Whether it’s in America with money our government takes from hard working Americans or the dollars spent globally, gov’t & charities, we’ve seen 5+ decades of these misguided solutions making problems worse. I think Feed the Children and similar efforts need to perpetuate the problems so their organizations stay relevant. However, you cannot fix a poverty problem by allowing people to continue to let others finance their livelihood while producing another generation that will also require someone else to provide for their needs. It’s a hard truth to talk about, but those who cannot take care of themselves should not be creating another generation. And, “Family Planning” should be about not having more children than you can afford to house, feed, cloth, educate, medicate, etc.; raising and financing your children (family) is not someone else’s responsibility. Educated Americans are having smaller families while being forced to finance an exploding population that cannot or will not provide for themselves. It’s time to end ALL government programs that steal from the workers to provide as handouts; welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, free school breakfast/lunch and especially the “free” Internet & mobile phone programs!!
God Bless America!

Hank Raehn - April 15, 2017

In my opinion, the fundamental reason that poverty has continued unabated ever since Johnson’s Great Society is the breakdown of the family in America. Until this moral issue is addressed and resolved, I believe poverty in the U.S. will continue to increase. To reverse the steady increase in poverty nationwide, I believe poverty can be substantially resolved when the government sets the conditions for sustained growth in the economy (perhaps with the FairTax) and when that happens, to scale back federal welfare programs and have the states deal with the issue. The states should enact what it takes to service the most legitimately needy.

James Schmerbauch - April 15, 2017

Revise federal and state tax systems to support and encourage development of businesses. Adopt welfare policies that encourage two parent families. Modify welfare programs to encourage, if not require, work by those capable of work. Encourage industries to provide on-the-job training where such training provides skills for advancement.

Sandra Aleman - April 15, 2017

The first best policy is to expand the economy. The second is to require the working-age poor to work (or learn how) before getting benefits. Even the disabled like me can either work or get educated to work. The third is to allow the poor access to a decent education in a decent environment. State and local governments can take over from there.

Andy Lawson - April 15, 2017

Until all levels of government can get on the same page concerning poverty, little can be done. In the past we have felt that throwing vast amounts of money at the problem will make the problem disappear. This has proven to be a disastrous mistake. All levels of government must reach the same understanding that turning the one in need into a productive citizen is the only answer. Much thought would have to go into the producing of the correct manner that this can be accomplished but it is the only way to build self pride in the down trodden to the extent that they have a desire to improve themselves and their situation. Taking care of another’s needs only produces dependency. Building up the ability of a dependent person produces independence. Even this must involve sacrifice on the part of the one that is receiving the help.

Ragnar Liljequist - April 15, 2017

Six year term limit for both houses of Congress, and eliminate all perquisites.Also, term limits for members of the Supreme Court.

Kathleen Centuolo - April 15, 2017

Firstly, I could careless about President Trump’s tax return.

As a retired Office Manager for 3 Surgeons and 5 Offices. I worked at least 60 hrs.
The bottom line …… President Trump forgot about the middle class. I never tried to apply for Food Stamps….I Budget.
(70 years young)


kevin - April 15, 2017

It is really quite simple; Make poverty an inconvenience! What does that mean you ask?
1. Define true poverty, as it is, at the Federal and State levels. They should be one and the same.
2. First and foremost, address children’s welfare.
a. If the Parent or Guardian cannot provide 3 healthy meals a day, then the 3 meals should be made available during designated time frames at a designated local distribution center. This may be a church, or another local government appointed place.
b. Provide transportation from/to via school buses from these designated points in addition to the normal routes in the areas where the poverty stricken families/individuals and/or communities are.
3. Provide shelters for those who wish to utilize them, with transportation via shuttle buses, for poverty stricken individuals, and families. Bus them back and forth as needed for food and shelter. Prioritize children’s needs first.
4. Do not issue cash or credit cards or debit cards or any form of negotiable monetary vehicle that may be abused by the individuals who require assistance and services.
5. Publish the name of adults who are caught abusing the system, and expel them from the system if they fail to comply after two chances.
6. Provide counseling services at the distribution centers for individuals and families as required. To wit: Family counseling, birth and child raising counseling, financial counseling. We already have a significant number of Social Workers in each State, they are more than able to handle this tasking.
7. Have these families and especially the children be accounted for at these facilities and their schools, and reward their successful completion of milestones such as graduation form high School. ( work with local community leaders and higher education facilitators to encourage and develop pathways to either College or a Trade. Also, encourage Military Recruiters to visit and offer additional career choices.
7. Introduction and continued exposure to successful Individuals and families. Show them what can be achieved. Prove that this can be achieved, by the opposite of “scared straight” programs, Use “You can do this Programs”, let them see what hard work and dedication can achieve.
8. There are many different charitable organizations supplying cloths and other amenities. These should be distributed as per needs based requirements for the children as first priority, and then families adults etc.
9. If these families or individuals already have a place to live, and they already are attending schools and they have access to 3 healthy meals per day, and there is a television in the house, and they choose to eat junk food vice healthy food, and they have a car, or transportation, and they choose not to work, then they are not in poverty. Lack of Internet is not poverty. Schools have internet access. Make sure the children go to school. Adults can use the library, or church or many other charitable means.
10. Do not politicize true poverty. It is an unfortunate and hopefully short period of distress and misery, not to be admired, or disrespected. It is an unfortunate aspect of some societies and a temporary condition that afflicts a
small portion of Americans. Poverty in America should not be equated with poverty in India, the Middle East, Africa or South America. There is no comparison. If you have seen that kind of true poverty as I have, you will be thankful that poverty here is nothing near the hell that exists elsewhere.
A final note: The last time a President announced a “War on Poverty” the only thing that happened was a new jobs program for more government workers and more government contracts to support the same. Next we had lobbyists making money selling ideas on behalf of Contractors, and then think tanks and Professors getting huge grants to explain why the number of folks in poverty keeps growing. Top it off with the expanded immigration of folks with no marketable skills and you have another self-licking ice cream cone of perpetual tax dollar bottomless pits.

Toby Wintersteen - April 15, 2017

Best cure for poverty and low self esteem is a full time job. Workers of marginal skills benefit from anything that reduces the total cost of employment such as removing payroll and all federal, state and local taxes and excess regulations.

Schools should start teaching about work, productivity, and job hunting at an early age. Workers should expect to take continuing education throughout their careers.

Encourage small business and startups which are big employers. This added employment reduces the number excess job hunters and tends to increase wages.

Frank Schwartz - April 15, 2017

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Tax breaks help. Technical colleges help also. Get people off welfare. Start up a training program within businesses, providing tax incentives. Give preference for jobs to U.S. citizens instead of foreigners.

Victoria Macki - April 15, 2017

I am in total agreement with Jim Anderson–he took the words right off the tips of my finger.

David Lopez - April 16, 2017

People need to know, and a have a supplement, when they work and earn a pay check- Sometimes they do not work because they make more money on welfare.Force them to work but supplement their income to what it would have been on welfare and reduce it the welfare when they get a pay increase.

Albert (Alberto) Castro Jr - April 16, 2017

A strong economy and jobs would be a good place to start.

Stephen Johnston - April 16, 2017

Getting rid , of teacher’s , that don’t teach !!!

PATSY THOMAS - April 16, 2017

LONG RANGE: Local school systems should be encouraged to get children through 12 grades, with the last 4 leading to competent workers in the community or state. Before that, mothers staying home until children are 3 and learning to love books.

Sapient Hetero - April 16, 2017

Best approach to addressing poverty in America is to dramatically slash the size and scope of government at all levels. Stop stealing from the middle class to pay for cushy jobs & pensions for government toadies.

Susan - April 16, 2017

Limiting government intervention in subsidies, price controls and other similar restrictions, and incentivizing behavior such as getting a good education, saving for the future, two-parent families.

Mac - April 16, 2017

The total population must be educated on the process of getting out of poverty. The education system must be changed to focus on self reliance rather than you are owed something from the government. ‘Political Correctness’ must be removed from the education systems.

Fred Henry - April 16, 2017

We need to create conditions for all able bodied man and women to obtain a job with wages that provide for a decent living. President Trump’s agenda to make “America Great Again” will work if we all pull together. This means creating conditions for industry and businesses to thrive and prosper in this country and the consumer mindset to ‘buy american” is embraced by all american’s.

Lorena Steffen - April 17, 2017

The churches used to be the main thrust of helping the poor, before government interfered with them.
Real charity sees problems and reaches out to solve them. Now, people think the poor are helped by welfare, and don’t see the need to help. Also, those who take advantage of government help and won’t work makes charitable people unwilling to want to help.

Alice Ekema - April 17, 2017

Benjamin Franklin: “in my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work. “more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves then could be done by dividing all your Estates among them.”

Ellen Dougherty - April 17, 2017

One of our founders said, until you make it uncomfortable to be poor no one will be motivated to get out of poverty.
Unfortunately too many able bodied people would rather take from, than give to society. We need a spiritual transformation. Praying for America

Janet Norcott - April 17, 2017

Where did the money go? Start there.
Private Co. are fined Billion so dollars.
Where does that money go? Are those fines designated to infrastructure?.
Actually designate confiscated Social Security funds taken from paychecks and
designate to Treasurybonds , Funds that pay a minimum of 4% return.
Designate Medicare paycheck withdrawals to muni bonds or other funds that return a minimum of 4%. Charge every welfare recipient a 10% administrative fee. Withdraw from payment) Welfare recipients can now work two days a week without harming status. Anyone on welfare is to be given a City improvement task. Sweep downtown sidewalks, etc. We need to develop grants for top notch Technical training Schools ,giving credit for 6 month to year internship. We need to put ex-military men in immigration positions,they fought for freedoms they have a right to help regulate foreigners.
Encourage new industries, Bicycle kits,
better helmet design, safety equip., industry outside of billion dollar industry. Enforce Constitution, which gives rights
to citizens, not foreigners. Deny foreigners entitlements, including suing citizens. All industry, including ag must e-verify. Americans to get hired. Americans get public Education, foreigners pay. Eliminate foreign Education grants.
foreigners can not lobby,( i think, now in effect). Give churches back religious status, not corporations and expect the churches to perform and meet local needs.
Americans first in Medical Schools and allied industries.Make professional requirements higher for foreigners.
Eliminate 5 year business visa program.
Redevelop wool industry. Encourage small farms, 40 acres or less ( to 10 acres minimum) Encourage improvement in home design, not gimmick comply with regulation products. is cement block best, cement slab, metal structure best.
Put Military on the Border.
Encourage elderly parent, mother in law
quarters on same property. Reinstate self reliance, counter entitlement mentality.
Job of Federal Government is to Protect Our Borders and fund the post office.
Make everyone running for office to show certified Birth certificate, and go through thorough background check before running for office. (local, county, State and Federal)
All laws to be approved by voters before
becoming law. Then we won’t have 50 million laws, one contradicting the other.
Aspecial panel reviews the constutionality of any new law. for instance, the law that established the BLM states that the Government owns Public lands, UNCOSTITUTIONAL. the people own public law. How did that become law?
Put restains on Judges. Review Constitutional performance every two years.
I could go on and on, we are so far from the Principles of our Forefathers.

Candy Hansard - April 17, 2017

How to reduce the number of poor people in our Country:
1. STOP importing poverty by allowing immigration of people who cannot support themselves.
2. STOP EBT cards that can be sold or used at high priced convenience stores. Instead, give vouchers that can be redeemed for staples for survival. Example: dried beans, peanut butter, eggs, vegetables, sugar free cereal and milk. If they want luxuries like Twinkies or potato chips, they need to get a job.
3. EVERY person on welfare or food stamps should be subjected to random drug, alcohol, and tobacco testing. If they can afford these vices, they don’t need our tax dollars.
4. STOP illegal aliens from working low wage jobs. Require that any able bodied person that applies for welfare or food stamps to work these jobs in order to continue to qualify for any government assistance.
5. STOP paying women to have illegitimate children. Everyone makes a mistake but, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook to support multiple children born into welfare homes. After the first welfare dependent child is born, offer FREE 5 year Norplant birth Control and explain that taxpayers will not be paying to support anymore children by the woman already on welfare.
6. CRITICALLY IMPORTANT: Begin to educate children about the importance of being responsible citizens. Teach them what causes poverty and how making good choices in life can create a bright and prosperous future. Teach youngsters that the victim narrative and a welfare mentality will trap them in poverty but a good education and hard work can create a good future for them and their family.

Evette C. Feagin - April 18, 2017

Contact all Catholic Organizations to lobby on Capital Hill about pooling all resources and to reduce our country’s deficeit. This will help reduce poverty in our country!

Reba Elliott - April 18, 2017

Nobody should get welfare payments without contributing something – some kind of public service. Unemployment should be for shorter periods and require proof of job hunting. Disability coverage should be monitored long-term for ability to return to a paying job.

M Masters - April 18, 2017

We must return to wisdom, and make it very uncomfortable for able bodied people to have their hands out. If they need help, then use tax dollars to help them acquire the skills to get a good paying job, so they can be free. have self-respect, and not be enslaved to the system. Let’s begin by holding them accountable, and letting them learn personal responsibility. It’s a life changer.

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