A Living Wage?

For my Political Economy class this semester, we need to write 2-3 paragraphs each week based on our readings.  This is the first of 8.

“Poverty is about more than not having enough money.  It’s about not having hope” – Jennifer Garner

I’ve been watching A Path Appears, a documentary by Nick Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn and this week’s episode was about living in poverty and a few solutions that have been created.  Ms Garner’s quote is a great summary of the themes that ran through the film and through the articles that we read this week.

The reality of our country is that there is a large group of people living on a financial precipice:  One unexpected car expense, one cold snap where the heat and electrical goes up and they are falling into the pit.   There is little view to getting out of the hole, climbing out via a sandy, crumbling wall.

Throwing money at the problem isn’t the full solution.   Education and skill building are the way to get out and get up.  A controlled study from the state of Pennsylvania, paying for preschool educational programs in at risk communities, there was a 59% reduction in arrests at age 15. The cost of the education is lower and it can break the cycle of poverty.  The cited study suggest a savings of $100MM per year in Pennsylvania.

Even if the intervention is later in the cycle and incarceration or other damage has occurred, skill building and providing alternate housing can reduce recidivism and be less expense.   The roots of recidivism are in poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Knowing this, I was shocked and frustrated to see that in the Living Wage tables, Community and Social services jobs do not pay a living wage in CT.  How can we expect these workers to have hope for their clients if they are unsure how they will pay for their own future?  Maybe it’s time to look for new solutions because the old ones just aren’t working.


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