I support a minimum income for all, abled and disabled, working and unemployed, with or without a criminal record. And I also support rent control and other government efforts to keep that income liveable. I don’t think there are any good reasons to have even one person in poverty in a nation with such wealth.
This would eliminate the need for several population-specific or benefit-specific government programs, like Social Security, WIC (infant formula and certain beans), SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (hardship cash). It would also eliminate the cruel and arduous process of means testing poor families to make sure they’re poor enough, or making people prove the extent of their disabilities. Everyone would get enough to live on.
At the very least, I’d like us to provide guaranteed income to families. This is an old idea; in the oft-romanticized post war 1940s and 1950s, certain mothers (white married war widows at first, then more white women) were given a stipend from the federal government for doing the hard work of raising America’s next generation. Stipends for single and divorced mothers existed in some form until President Bill Clinton signed the draconian Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Act of 1996. The current situation is only twenty years old, and over that time child hunger and poverty rates have ballooned.
Poverty harms children. In the immediate, it increases their odds of interrupted sleep, food insecurity, homelessness, and exposure to certain crimes. They are more likely to live in substandard conditions and more likely to attend overburdened and underfunded schools. The paper The Economic Costs of Childhood Poverty puts these impacts in financial terms, what allowing childhood Poverty to persist costs all of us.
Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
Economists estimate that child poverty costs an estimated $500 billion a year to the U.S. economy; reduces productivity and economic output by 1.3 percent of GDP; raises crime and increases health expenditure.