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Web letter by Joe Grandstaff: Obama fails to lead in reducing poverty

The problems plaguing our society are many, but none more devastating than poverty and its effect on the lives of future generations. Poverty is where so many in our society find themselves – out of no choice of their own. The circumstances of their background or the misguided choices of their youth have led them into a trap from which escape seems impossible. These people are caught in a downward spiral that steals their hope and in turn their will to pursue a better life for themselves and their children.

Poverty is colorblind and cares not who you are or where you came from. It destroys lives and breeds societal ills that plague our communities. Alcohol, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, gang violence and crime are devastating side effects that entrap so many more in the downward spiral.

Our government addresses the problem with entitlement programs that merely perpetuate the problem. Housing and subsistence money help people survive and SNAP helps prevent hunger, but none offer meaningful solutions. None offer any real alternatives to the violent life of drug abuse, gang membership and crime. Proposed gun control laws won’t stop gang members or criminals from obtaining firearms. We need solutions that address core problems, not just symptoms.

We need to provide real solutions and hope for those in poverty. We should be promoting two-parent households with strong incentives that include parent participation in education. Most importantly, we need to do a better job of creating job opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported February unemployment was 8 percent for the general population, while significantly worse for minorities and young people of all races. Black Americans are unemployed at a rate near 14 percent; black youths (16-19) 43 percent and all youths (16-19) 25 percent. With the obscene amounts of money our government spends on programs that are supposed to improve lives for Americans, why are we unable to create jobs?

Our schools need to be part of the solution. We educate children in the many subjects laid out in the curriculum, but do we really prepare them to be productive, responsible adults? We can do better by requiring schools to promote better basic values throughout a student’s educational journey. A focus on parental responsibility, nurturing skills for both parents, personal pride and responsibility, ethics, family problem-solving, goal-setting, creating and managing a household budget, banking and credit; all through a curriculum that includes role modeling. This needs to be a part of the curriculum starting in the early years and not just relegated to a high school class where many have already tuned out.

My suggestions will not solve all society’s ills or bring an immediate halt to gun violence in our streets, but future generations are being lost and we’re promoting generational poverty by a lack of meaningful action. I expected more out of our president. He’s a skilled community organizer, but his administration has failed to address the problems of impoverished neighborhoods. We can certainly do better.


Fort Wayne