Today is Blog Action Day and all good bloggers are supposed to write about poverty. I thought I’d direct attention to CAP’s report from last year about how to cut the poverty rate in half over the next ten years. It’d cost money, but at the same time the report notes that:
Poverty imposes enormous costs on society. The lost potential of children raised in poor households, the lower productivity and earnings of poor adults, the poor health, increased crime, and broken neighborhoods all hurt our nation. Persistent childhood poverty is estimated to cost our nation $500 billion each year, or about four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
This kind of human capital calculation isn’t the reason to try to fight domestic poverty (it’s the right thing to do!), but it’s an important part of understanding why the admittedly high price of effective anti-poverty policy isn’t too high a price. Accepting a sky-high poverty rate winds up burdening our education system, our public health system, and our criminal justice system and ultimately harming most everyone. There’s no good reason to be complacent about this.