Week 13 - Poverty: How To Help and How Not To
Day 1 - Getting Started
Day 2 - Helping the Poor?
Incentives and Income Transfers
- 1. Unintended secondary effects explain why it is difficult to transfer income to a group of recipients in a way that will improve their long-term well-being. What three major factors undermine the effectiveness of income transfers? Make sure to explain how each undermines the effectiveness of those transfers.
- 1. Increase in government transfers will reduce incentive of the taxpayer donor and transfer recipient 2.Competition for transfers will take away from the long term benefits: if the government does not set criteria for transfers, everyone will ask for them and bust the budget immediately 3. Transfer programs reduce the consequences suffered by those who make bad business decisions. Which leads to more risky and noneconomic friendly business.
- 2. How did President Johnson and the other proponents argue that poverty could be eliminated? Did their method for poverty alleviation work? Why, or why not?
- Poverty could be eliminated if Americans would just transfer a little more income to the less fortunate. This did not work. It did not work as it did not provide a way for them to make money and sustain themselves.
- 3. What are three reasons anti-poverty transfer programs have generally failed to upgrade the well-being of their intended beneficiaries? Make sure to explain why each ultimately fails to help those the transfers were intended to benefit.
- They just give them money and nothing else. It does not provide them with a way to earn money themselves, so eventually the transferred money runs out and they are back where they began.
Day 3 - Domestic Poverty
Understanding Poverty in America
- 4. Up until the early part of the 20th century, what organizations provided much of the help for the disadvantaged and why were these organizations uniquely effective in addressing poverty?
- Religious and private organizations
- 5. Under which president was the welfare state started and what was its initial intention?
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
- 6. What does "means testing" determine and why is it a disincentive for members of any household to increase their income?
- See if beneficiary is below a certain income level
- 7. What are two “dismal societal trends” that have resulted from the “means tested” welfare system?
- Unwed childbearing and low levels of parental work
- 8. Based on the “First Responders to Poverty” textbox, the problems of poverty are relational and complex. Who is best equipped to “be a first responder” and most importantly, what can they do to help?
- Individuals, families, churches, and ministries are best equipped to help. Being personally involved is more helpful than handing someone a check.
- 9. Why can faith-based organizations be more effective than government programs at helping the poor?
- They help and relate to the people on a personal level and see their needs, not just give money.
- 10. Because “decades of research have brought forth incontestable evidence that the decline of the family and marital dissolution are strongly linked to the financial status and long-term prospects of women and their children,” what must any government policy and/or program include if it is to have a serious impact on reducing child poverty?
- Marriage/Parental help
The Economy Hits Home - What Causes Poverty in America? by Jay Richards (pdf - 1.42 MB)
The Economy Hits Home - What Causes Poverty in America? by Jay Richards
Day 4 - The War on Poverty
nformation Gaps, Incentives and Charity
- 11. Richards points out that not only did Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” fail but it created economic and social problems worse than those it was meant to solve. What are four unintended consequences of government sponsored welfare?
- Family breakdowns and illegitimacy, cycles of dependency on transfers, anger, despair and hopelessness
- 12. What is the problem with welfare dispensed by the federal government and why is it least effective in its ability to help the individual?
- It just gives them momentary relief, it does not sustain or provide for them.
- 13. Why isn’t government spending on poverty compassionate or generous and how are both compassion and generosity different than government redistribution?
- They are just looking to fill quotas and look good. Compassion and generosity actual address the individuals needs.
- 14. Why are private charities more effective than larger government programs at dealing with small pockets of poverty and disaster relief?
- They interact and relate to those in poverty.
- 15. What is the only known cure for widespread, generational poverty and in contrast to the campaigns that warm our hearts and give us a compassion fix, what are the things that can really help the poor?
- The love of Christ, relationships, job builiding
- 16. What must ministries do and believe to reduce poverty in a greater capacity than government programs or celebrity-led campaigns?
- Treat people as human beings and show them the love of Christ continuously.
- 17. How do Whelchel and Bradley explain the Alexander Hamilton quote, "A power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will"?
- Dependency encourages us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. If we have no incentive to work we will not.
- 18. From an economic perspective, what has fueled progress and fostered massive economic growth in the United States over the last 200 years?
- Capitalism, a productive institutional environment where work and innovation are rewarded and encouraged
Why Welfare Should Respect the Dignity of Work by Hugh Whelchel and Anne Bradley (pdf - 129.01 KB)
Why Welfare Should Respect the Dignity of Work by Hugh Whelchel and Anne Bradley
Day 5 - Helping the Poor?
Good Intentions Are Not Enough
- 19. Fill in the blanks below?
- From a biblical perspective, poverty is rooted in broken relationships.
- 20. What are the four foundational relationships established by God in creation?
- relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation
- 21. Fill in the blanks below:
- When the foundational relationships are functioning as God intended… “…families are nurturing , work is fulfilling and productive , and people glorify God in all that they do.”
- 22. Corbett and Fikkert point out that as a result of the fall, all four relationships were damaged. In what ways are we all “poor” and what do we all ultimately need?
- The work of Christ in us.
- 23. Fill in the blanks below:
- Moving from a material to a relational definition of poverty enables us to see that poverty alleviation is ultimately about reconciling relationships in both our lives and the lives of the materially poor.
- So then, how does effective poverty alleviation happen?
- Moving from a "needs-based" mindset to an "assets-based" mind set.
- 24. Why is simply handing out shoes, clothing or money to people who are not helpless a common and detrimental mistake churches make in attempting to alleviate poverty?
- It doesn't help them build assets to provide for themselves
- 25. How does focusing on the assets God has put in a community, rather than the “needs” of the community, frame our interactions with the materially poor in a way that affirms their God-given dignity?
- Helps them be confident in themselves to be able to provide for their needs.
How to Help the Poor - And How Not To by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (pdf - 417.49 KB)
How to Help the Poor - And How Not To by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Day 6 - Critical Thinking Assignment
Acton Institute - The Solution
- 1. Considering “The Top Ten Ways to Alleviate Poverty,” what are at least five things you can do even now to help alleviate poverty?
- A few of things that I can do now to help alleviate poverty are as follows: 1. Contact my local politicians and ask them to promote the rule of law and economic freedom, along with "stable families and other important private institutions that mediate between the individual and the state" (240). 2. Help out and/or volunteer with organizations that spread the gospel, share "the right cultural mores" (240) with people, including "orientation to the future and the belief that progress but not utopia is possible in this life; willingness to save and delay gratification; willingness to take risk, to respect the rights and property of others, to be diligent, to be thrifty" (240), and instill "a proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty" (240) with people. 3. Get a job or do freelance work so that I can contribute to society, give to my church, and donate to organizations that are doing the things listed in number 2 above. 4. Read and research more about the history of different economic systems and the basic principles of economics so that I can continue to understand and apply them better. 5. Discuss the principles of wealth creation and poverty with other people who may not know and/or understand the principles.
- 2. According to Richards, if we really want to alleviate poverty, we must understand that the ingredients to large scale wealth creation are immaterial, intangible, and spiritual. What are the six nonmaterial ingredients that promote wealth creation in a culture?
- The six nonmaterial ingredients that promote wealth creation in a culture are as follows: "beliefs, social conventions, institutions, commitments, virtues, and creativity" (241).
- 3. Why should we not be surprised that spiritual realities are the great drivers of wealth creation in human culture?
- We should not be surprised that spiritual realities are the great drivers of wealth creation in human culture because we as "Christians know that the spiritual is as real as the material; that, in the ultimate scheme of things, mind precedes matter; that in the beginning was the Word. "It is the spirit that gives life" (John 6:63)" (241-242).
- 4. According to this video, the solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice start with ___ME___ .
- According to this video, the solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice start with me and with you.
- 5. What are the current HHS POVERTY GUIDELINES?
- The current (2022) HHS Poverty Guidelines "for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia" is $13,590 for a 1-person family/household, $18,310 for a 2-person family/household, $23,030 for a 3-person family/household, $27,750 for a 4-person family/household, $32,470 for a 5-person family/household, $37,190 for a 6-person family/household, $41,910 for a 7-person family/household, and $46,630 for an 8-person family/household. (For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,720 for each additional person.) (All of the information in the answer above comes from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; January 12, 2022; "Poverty Guidelines: HHS Poverty Guidelines for 2022"; https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines.)
- 6. What is the current poverty rate in your city and/or county?
- Though I could not find specifics such as the percentages of disabled, elderly, or families (married couple families and single parent families) living below the poverty level in my city or county, I was able to find the information below: Collin County: Persons in poverty, percent: 6.2% (The United States Census Bureau; "QuickFacts: Collin County, Texas"; https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/collincountytexas/IPE120220#IPE120220.) Plano: Persons in poverty, percent: 6.3% (The United States Census Bureau; "QuickFacts: Plano city, Texas"; https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/planocitytexas/IPE120220#IPE120220.) Plano: Median household income: $95,602 (planotexas.org; "Featured News & Numbers: Stay up to date with Plano Economic Development"; https://www.planotexas.org/.)