A New Jersey newspaper, the Star Ledger, has run a story that is obviously meant to attack Chris Christie for not doing enough to help the poor: “Poverty in N.J. reaches 52-year high, new report shows.”
“The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels. ‘This is not just a one-year or five-year or 10-year variation,’ said Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of LSNJ, which gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases. ‘This is the worst that it’s been since the 1960 Census.’”
The story throws facts at readers while discouraging any understanding of what is happening, or even any curiosity about what is happening. It never questions, for example, how the data might get skewed by an organization of people who sustain at least a middle class existence off the alleged misery of the poor. Miller is treated as the impartial judge of our society without any skepticism.
Another especially obvious instance of a refusal to dig into causes was the statement about single mothers:
“Of families headed by single mothers, 22 percent were poor compared to 3.6 percent of families headed by a married couple.”
So has there been an increase in single motherhood? If so, and if the 22 percent is a long-standing average for how many single mothers are poor, then the entire increase in New Jersey poverty could be explained by an increase in unwed teen pregnancy and/or divorce. But we are told nothing.
“African-Americans and Hispanics had poverty rates at least three times higher than whites.”
But how what are the rates of single-parent households with the parent being the mother among African-Americans and Hispanics compared to Whites? We are told nothing. The writers don’t show any sign that the study addressed the question, or that they ever gave it a thought.
So what is the solution to this increase in poverty? None is suggested! I guess readers should not be surprised. If you are going to write an article about poverty that shows no interest in the causes of poverty, then it would be difficult to include solutions to poverty in that same article. Poverty is just “there,” and the only possible response is to give them more free money and “services” (which means middle class jobs on the backs of taxpayers in the name of helping the poor).
The only other proposal was raising the minimum wage law, which would cause more unemployment and/or higher prices so that businesses could pay the new wage. It wouldn’t help the poor; minimum wage law hurts them.
The only way poverty can be reduced is if productivity is increased so that there is more wealth in society. But no one wants to think about where productivity comes from. Our intellectuals just want voters to squabble over free money.