Can we improve odds for the poor?

March 11, 2014 

The classic American tale is about the person who goes from rags to riches. Unfortunately in America today, it's more likely that the rags remain.

Just 5 percent to 8 percent of people in their 30s who grew up in poverty became a top earner of $63,200 or more. By comparison, 35 percent to 39 percent of them remain at the bottom of the financial ladder, earning $13,500 or less.

If a stockbroker had that poor an investment record, he would lose his clients. A coach with so little success would be out of a job. And yet our government continues to fund the same failed programs. There has to be a way to encourage opportunities not just send subsidies.

The Griffin Center in East St. Louis, which works with children in public housing projects, is trying to teach those children that a life of poverty is not inevitable. The kids who will have the best chances of believing that are those who have two parents who support them and stress the importance of education as a way out of poverty.

When children don't have that kind of support at home, it's easy to see how the hopelessness creeps in. Throwing more money into failed government programs isn't going to change that.

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