As we reflect on the passing of another year and anticipate the unfolding of the new one, I want to strike a somewhat different tone in this first column of 2019. The purpose of this column has always been to shine a spotlight on poverty and its detrimental effects on our communities, state, nation and world.
It’s no secret that the lack of affordable housing in Minnesota, and in particular in the Twin Cities, has remained one of our biggest issues in the 21st century.
Not only are these trends not sustainable, but they continue to put tens of millions of Americans on a collision course with financial disaster. Moreover, this nation’s economic disparities are a threat to its very future.
The debate over immigration in America, “illegal” or otherwise, is as old as the republic itself. The likes of Thomas Paine, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson addressed the virtues of immigration in the late 18th century, as would many who followed in their footsteps.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and supported by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute, this partnership set out to design and implement a series of comprehensive strategies to support current best practices and discover new and innovative approaches to help lift people out of poverty.
In a handful or so of previous columns, I have explored what educators and social scientists have come to call “the word gap.” The research in support of the word gap comes from landmark studies at the University of Kansas and Stanford University, which reveal that by the time a low-income child reaches the age of three they have potentially heard 30 million fewer words than peers who come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
The main gist of the research coming out of Stanford, MIT and other places was that both the reality and the threat of poverty were far worse than previously thought. As similar research studies followed, economist Tim Worstall took these claims to task, arguing that American’s true poverty rate was really closer to 4.5 percent.
Now, in contrast to America’s “founding commitment to human rights,” all of us will recognize that the United States and “its immense wealth” were built largely on the forced removal of Native peoples from their land, the free labor of African slaves, and myriad other human rights violations.
That particular installment of The Anti-Poverty Soldier also examined recent attempts on the part of many legislators, on both the state and national levels, to gut and perhaps even abolish this law, which was signed exactly one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
That is all any of us could ask for. There is a tremendous reservoir of talent here in Minnesota and across the nation in urban, suburban and rural communities. There is so much potential that goes untapped for no other reason than a lack of opportunity and resources.