Locate:

    Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
    Homeless man sits on street

    The Goodwill® Blog

    Join us on
    Social Media
    For immediate help finding a job, call:
    Contact Us
    Homeless man sits on street

    Poverty Reduction: A Tough Row to Hoe for Policymakers

    Homeless man sits on streetThis week, representatives from numerous national human services groups in the United States, including Goodwill®, participated in a discussion about a complex challenge that Americans have struggled to address for generations – how do we improve opportunities for people who have economic disadvantages?

    While the language we have used over the years has evolved from “poverty reduction and safety nets” to “economic mobility and opportunities,” such conversations inside the Beltway often visit and revisit the following two persistent challenges and implicated federal- level policy recommendations.

    • Programs and resources are fragmented, often overlap, and operate in silos; therefore, policymakers should enact legislation that fosters increased collaboration.
    • Public funding is limited and dwindling for programs that aim to lift people and families out of poverty; therefore, policymakers should protect funding for these programs.

    Let’s set the politics aside for a moment to look at Congress from a systemic perspective in order to examine why it enacts laws that perpetuate an underfunded and fragmented poverty-reduction system.

    As far as money is concerned, an ever-growing list of national priorities are emerging  as the world’s economy has become more competitive and complex. Because increasing cash flow is difficult (growing the economy and closing tax loopholes) or unpopular (raising taxes), Congress struggles to determine how to stretch a flat budget in order to pay for both existing and new priorities. This sets the stage for a yearly argument about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    On to fragmentation:  as our Government 101 teachers told us, committees do the heavy lifting in Congress.  Each committee has a defined jurisdiction that limits the scope of the legislation it may produce. The more committees involved in drafting legislation, the harder it becomes to advance a bill.

    As a result of this basic structure, committees often advance legislation and Congress passes laws that are limited to a single committee’s jurisdiction. Consequently, programs continue to be fragmented. Short of wholesale Congressional restructuring and reform (never going to happen), or an overwhelming appetite to pass a massive multi-committee bill (rare and risky), the poverty-reduction system will continue to be underfunded and fragmented to some extent.

    As the cliché states, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Goodwill is working to develop different approaches to providing opportunities for people and families who are economically disadvantaged. And perhaps through the process and in partnership with other like-minded stakeholders, we will disrupt that status quo.

    Seth Turner
    GII Sr. Director of Public Policy until 2015
    Read More Posts By This Author

    Your comment will be held for moderation until approved. For questions about Goodwill programs and services, please use our locator and contact your nearest Goodwill headquarters.

    • Carole
      October 3rd, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      One thing that will hurt poorer people is smart meters. They raise the cost of utilities and have caused houses to set on fire. They also create the need for new equipment and appliances. We know how expensive appliances are. They can turn down your heat in the winter or lower your oven. There is nothing good about them, The companies that make them just want to make money. The Feds give money to public utilities to promote them and this money is passed along to those that promote them. The poor always get trampled on. Continue the Opt Out for Meters and vote out the 8 members of council who voted for them. They have money.

    • Rachelle
      October 4th, 2014 at 3:33 am

      Definately is an agreeable suggestion.

    Join us on
    Social Media
    For immediate help finding a job, call:
    Contact Us