More work needed to fight poverty
As poverty continues to plague America, it is vitally important for state and local governments to explore new alternative systems to combat poverty. Moreover, it is unclear whether any of the 2016 presidential candidates are committed to addressing the vicious cycle of poverty.
In a democracy, there should be many participants in the formation of public policy. However, state and local governments should not heavily rely on the federal government to address issues that have been traditionally a local matter -- especially, since the federal government continues to implement regressive welfare policies.
For example, in "$2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America," Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer illustrate the profound effect of the nation's landmark legislation: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
According to Edin and Shaefer, "the unintended consequence of abolishing Aid to Families With Dependent Children and replacing it with TANF has contributed to an increase in poverty and households with children living on $2 a day."
Since persistent poverty erodes democracy and the social fabric of communities, Edin and Shaefer's research strengthens the need for state and local governments to play a more active role in protecting the democratic dignity of our society.
A vigilant response from state and local governments can provide a starting point for the design of effective welfare policies. A great example of this can be seen in European countries.
It appears that even in the most progressive welfare countries, a front-line assault on poverty, led by state and local governments, is the best alternative to adequately addressing poverty.