If you really want to help lift the poor out of poverty — and I do — then jettison the idea that raising the minimum wage is a great way to do that — so say hundreds of economists who signed this letter. A very low percentage of those who earn minimum wage actually live in poverty-stricken households.
Helping people out of poverty is complex and requires long-term strategies; there are many reasons and issues to address. But let’s start with this: stay in school and earn a high school diploma, don’t have children out of wedlock, and when you do have children, do so after the age of 20. Adhering to these guidelines, as learned analysts have observed, will ensure that the vast majority of men and women will avoid poverty.
Next, we must realize that while we put in place long-term policies to encourage and reward work, we must also provide immediate assistance to those in need. Thankfully, a variety of private groups, charities, nonprofits, and churches regularly come to the aid of the poor. Those of us who champion limited government must continue to step up and do our part.
Then let’s address the scourge of addiction. We can’t expect people to work, raise children, and shoulder daily responsibilities when they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Treatment is essential.
When we couple these ideas with policies that foster growth and prosperity, we can truly address poverty.