Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today's poverty riff

I agree with the point of many of the folks quoted in the Journal Sentinel's recent article on the poverty rate in Milwaukee. We ought to be concerned that the city has the 8th highest poverty rate in the country. We should regard the fact that 1 in 4 city households are below the poverty line as unacceptable.

But isn't there an instructive point suggested by the accompanying graphic which suggests (but does not demonstrate)a high level of correlation between the overall income level of a state and its rate of poverty? Maybe a rising tide doesn't lift all boats but no one is going anywhere if everyone else is mired on the beach.

So much of the political debate surrounding Milwaukee centers around the need for the state and county to spend money to address the perceived needs of the less fortunate and, of course, there is often a need to do so.

But I suspect that Milwaukee County would be far better off if there was a way to get its median household income within shouting distance of its surrounding counties and the government is not about to spend us into that happy circumstance.

To return to the subject of an earlier post, killer property taxes and high crime rates are not conducive to attracting businesses or middle class families and the social capital that they bring. Expressing concern over these things is not abandoning the city; it's an attempt to get at some things that are holding it back. Accepting family breakdown and generation after generation of dependence as "givens" that must be tolerated and ameliorated may not be blaming the victim. But it is ensuring that she will remain one.


JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Well said. I agree completely.

Billiam said...

Well said. Unfortunately, what you've suggested either falls on deaf ears, or is answered with cries of uncaring racist, or just mean old conservative. The only solution acceptable is more money. As we've seen so often, nothing changes.

Dad29 said...

I'll vote that 'killer crime-rates' are more a deterrent to habitation than 'killer prop-tax rates.'

While we're at it, I'd suggest that the HS graduation rate has a great deal to do with both the crime rate AND the poverty rate.