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More Than A Quarter of Alabama Kids Are Caught In the Poverty Whirlpool

by: mooncat

Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 13:30:00 PM CST

The giant sucking sound you hear is the future going down the drain for huge numbers of Alabama kids -- 25 to 30% according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution.

Child poverty in Alabama

Alabama 4th Grade Reading  ScoresPoverty is like a whirlpool, it sucks the future away for poor children and their future children.  This is not rocket science.  Here's the cycle:

Poor kids perform less well in school -- not because they're less smart (although poor kids do tend to have higher exposure to environmental toxins) but because they're distracted by lack of food, clothing, shelter and parents with the time to help them.

Poor kids achieve lower educational levels -- probably due to a combination of economic pressure and the fact that they perform less well in school. See above.

                       Educational Attainment and   Poverty

Salary and Educational  AttainmentAdults with lower educational levels earn less, so their children are more likely to live in poverty ...

... and have lower educational attainment ...

... and earn less ...

... and have kids of their own who grow up in poverty ...

... and so on, and so on, ad nauseum.

The number of poor children in Alabama is higher than it has been in a generation.  What does that mean for the future? 

Lower educational levels, lower earnings, even more kids in poverty.  This is the fruit of a race to the bottom economy, based on cheap labor rates and a tax system that actually redistributes wealth from the middle and lower working classes to the rich

Poverty RatesThe cycle of poverty is ugly and it's going to get worse in the future unless something is done to plug the drain and enable the working poor and their families to escape from the whirlpool. 

Not to mention preventing even more middle class Alabamians from being drawn into the poverty vortex.

This is not a zero-sum game.  If our society doesn't provide opportunities for the poor to move up, we're all headed down the drain. 

mooncat :: More Than A Quarter of Alabama Kids Are Caught In the Poverty Whirlpool
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That last plot basically covers my life - 1959 to present (4.00 / 2)

Look at the steep downward slope from my birth year to about 1968 - that represents the Great Society.  Medicare, Head Start, all that good stuff.

Then, from 1968 on, the curves turn back upward - except for elder poverty, the green dashed curve.  That one keeps heading down, even after 2003 when the others bounce up.

Why is that, do you think?

Kind of looks like the priorities are 1) Elders 2) Unemployed 3) Children  4) Workers.

I'm surprised that the unemployed rank higher, but after all, they do have time to vote...


Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
- John Adams

LBJ's War on Poverty (4.00 / 1)

I looked at that plot and thought, "Damn, we were winning the war on poverty .... then we quit fighting it."

You can also see Bill Clinton's administration where the lines head down again ... then there's W.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
just a disgrace (4.00 / 1)

At the very least, politicians should be able appeal to peoples' basic self-interest:

"If we don't have a group of educated workers, then who's going to take your blood, run your nursing home, and pay taxes that keep your Medicare available and SS checks flowing?"

Ideally, people would realize that feeding and educating children in an investment we can't afford NOT to make.  But obviously, this is far from an ideal world.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith



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