Saturday, August 27, 2011

Radical Scholarship: Poverty and Education in SC and the US

Radical Scholarship: Poverty and Education in SC and the US: Op-Eds in The State and The Greenville News : As children across South Carolina re-enter our schools across the state, two recent reports...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Ridiculous Assertions By [Some] White Liberals | The Jose Vilson

On Ridiculous Assertions By [Some] White Liberals | The Jose Vilson

Welfare myth, welfare reality, welfare failure

Welfare in the rugged-individualism U.S. suffers two serious burdens: (1) lingering mythologies built on inaccuracies and (2) purposeful distortions of welfare by powerful political figures and groups.

Pre-1996 welfare differs significantly from post-1996 welfare, but pre-1996 welfare has its share of lies and manipulations. See the unmasking of the key unfounded claims about welfare promoted by the folks at CATO:  

And this, as another example:

Myth: The U.S. has wasted over $5 trillion on the war on poverty.

Fact: The U.S. has spent about $700 billion on the war on poverty.

Thus, powerful Urban legends born in pre-1996 lore about welfare suggest, for example, that welfare pays better than work; but it didn't then (see the report above) and doesn't now.

But, this all should be irrelevant (although the misleading claims by CATO do persist even today, driven by the "welfare queen" claims of Ronald Reagan from the early 1980s) because in 1996, welfare changed dramatically:

This revision of welfare placed strict limits on how long people can be on welfare (5 years), required a transition to and a search for work, and erased the automatic benefit increase for additional children (as well as requiring teen mothers to live with responsible adults and unwed fathers to prove paternity).

The result of the changes have been about a two-third's reduction in people on welfare from 1996-2010—despite a sharp rise in childhood poverty, overall poverty, and the unemployment rate during severe economic downturns during the late 2000s:

Average monthly TANF recipients, percent of U.S. families in poverty and unemployment rate
Year↓ Average monthly TANF recipients↓ Poverty rate (%)↓ Annual unemployment rate (%)↓
1996 12,320,970 (see note) 11.0 5.4
1997 10,375,993 10.3 4.9
1998 8,347,136 10.0 4.5
1999 6,824,347 9.3 4.2
2000 5,778,034 8.7 4.0
2001 5,359,180 9.2 4.7
2002 5,069,010 9.6 5.8
2003 4,928,878 10.0 6.0
2004 4,748,115 10.2 5.5
2005 4,471,393 9.9 5.1
2006 4,166,659 9.8 4.6
2007 3,895,407 9.8 4.5
2008 3,795,007 10.3 5.4
2009 4,154,366 11.1 8.1
2010 4,375,022 -- 8.6

Children in poverty have experienced the same decline in support, as noted by the Child Trend Data Bank:

"After rising from 6.1 million in 1970 to 9.5 million in 1993,7 the number of children receiving AFDC/TANF payments fell to 3.1 million in 2008. (Figure 1) Similarly, the percentage of all children receiving AFDC/TANF steadily decreased from 14 percent in 1993 to four percent in 2008. (Figure 2) Among children below the poverty threshold, the proportion of children receiving AFDC/TANF decreased from 62 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2008). (Figure 2) In 2009, preliminary data show the first increase in 14 years in the number of children receiving TANF, and in the percentage of all children receiving TANF. However, as a proportion of all children living in poverty, the percentage receiving TANF continued to decline."

And what about the "welfare queen" myth, that women have babies to get more money?

While the average number of children in families with children is 1.86, let's look at the facts about families receiving TANF: 

Bad Economics: Lack of Diversity Limits Clear View

Bad Economics: Lack of Diversity Limits Clear View