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New Findings From War on Poverty: Just Give Cash. There is a typical debate that tends to happen whenever people start talking about poverty. Conservatives try to blame poverty on the bad behavior of the poor. If lower-income people would just get married, stay married, avoid drugs, work hard and not commit crimes, say the conservatives, the poor would make a lot more money. Liberals typically assert that it’s the structures of society that cause poverty, not individual failings. Poor kids start with a disadvantage because of residential segregation and bad schools. This is a tired and familiar argument, and I’m sure that the truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between.

First, there is a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Randall Akee, Emilia Simeonova, E. We examine how a positive change in unearned household income affects children’s emotional and behavioral health and personality traits. Like so many economists these days, the authors find a natural experiment to test their hypothesis. Welfare drug tests fail to save expected cash. The State Capitol PHOENIX — In 2009, Arizona became the first state in the country to require drug tests for welfare recipients in effort to save the state dire-needed cash and ensure taxpayer dollars won’t go to drug users.

The results, however, haven’t come to meet those expectations. In the five and a half years since Arizona began the drug tests for adults receiving funds from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the state’s welfare program, 26 people have lost benefits due to the drug tests, three of whom for actually failing the drug test, according to figures provided by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which administers the program. When applying for TANF benefits, 42 people have been asked to take a follow-up drug test and 19 actually took the test, 16 of whom passed. The other 23 were stripped of their benefits for failing to take the drug test. Recipients are taken off welfare benefits for a year if they fail a drug test or do not take a required test. Sgt. Sen. A Prejudicial Policy Toward The Poor.

By Jonah Shepp In an interview with Nora Caplan-Bricker, Harold Pollack explains why drug testing welfare applicants, as Mississippi is set to start doing, is “among the worst ideas in American social policy today”: NCB: What’s the greatest harm you see programs like this cause? HP: These programs build upon, and perpetuate, harmful myths about parents who seek cash assistance. Illicit drug disorders can certainly be found among TANF recipients. Yet these disorders are not particularly widespread among participants in this program. Young men of college age are more likely to have substance use disorders than welfare recipients are.Drug testing does have an appropriate role when individuals face particular problems in the criminal justice system, sometimes in the workplace, or in particular family situations. Like Mississippi, most of the nine other states that have adopted drug testing regimes are deep red, and all have Republican governors. Locked Up In America. New Report Slams “Unprecedented” Growth in US Prisons May 1, 2014, 2:34 pm ET · by Jason M.

Breslow Despite a dramatic boom in incarceration rates, a new report finds that the deterrent effect of tough-on-crime policies remain “highly uncertain.” CANCELLED: Live Chat: Can America Kick Its Addiction to Incarceration? April 29, 2014, 9:41 pm ET · by Patrice Taddonio Filmmaker Dan Edge and Huffington Post justice reporter Ryan Reilly will answer this question — and take yours. Join us Wed., April 30 at 2 pm EST. For Some Felons, a Better Chance to Break the Re-entry Cycle April 29, 2014, 9:40 pm ET · by Sarah Childress It’s hard for felons to start over. Michelle Alexander: “A System of Racial and Social Control” April 29, 2014, 9:39 pm ET The civil rights advocate and scholar on why the U.S. turned to mass incarceration, and the impact it has today. Todd Clear: Why America’s Mass Incarceration Experiment Failed April 29, 2014, 9:38 pm ET April 25, 2014, 2:53 pm ET · by Sarah Childress.

A Homeless Man and His BlackBerry. Just becomes he doesn't have a home mean he doesn't deserve a life. I could tell he was different the moment he walked in the coffee shop. It wasn’t his appearance. He looked presentable, if a little rough around the edges, clutching an old BlackBerry to his barrel chest. It was how he moved: warily, shoulders hunched over and eyes darting. The body language would read as suspicious, if not for the flicker of fear and apprehension in his eyes — as if he was scared of being noticed, vigilant to his surroundings and desperately trying to blend in at the same time. He ordered a coffee, carefully counting out coins on the counter. He sat down at the table near me and pulled out his phone, just like nearly everyone else at the shop. Did someone have some cash jobs for him? Bert isn’t unsheltered. He made it clear: he hadn’t given up. It wasn’t easy to engage him in conversation. He made a joke about people acting as if poverty was an infectious disease.

E-mail and text is especially important. The psychology of poverty. Imagine this: You’re at your child’s baseball game. You’ve got a deadline coming up tomorrow and its been a hard day. You want to focus on your child’s game, but you can’t. To some, you may seem like a bad parent, but you can’t shake the fact that you have things to do. This is something we can all relate to. Harvard professor Sendhil Mullainathan claims that poverty has a similar effect on people’s minds.

“When faced with financial scarcity, people’s minds keep coming back to concerns such as -- how will I pay rent this month,” Mullainathan said. But doesn’t this apply to everyone? “You and I can be busy and we take a vacation from work. However, some poor families do spend their money on things they don't especially need sometimes, like televisions. He also said that poor people have less room for error when making bad financial decisions. "Think of yourself when you're very busy. Mullainathan said that a lot of the psychological problems poor people face come from lack of planning. Meaganmcgovern - Blog - Choices and habits. Poverty is caused by bad choices. Good choices and good decisions and habits can get people back into the middle class. That’s the most recent message of Dave Ramsey, who is a great guy apparently, and who is very good at helping middle-class people get out debt. He says that three things cause poverty: 1. Personal habits, choices and character; 2.

Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor; 3. And he explains why habits matter, and that rich people listen to audiobooks and poor people don't. Except that it's all wrong, even though it’s entirely accurate. Of course poverty is caused by personal habits and character. But here's the thing: Poverty has NOTHING to do with how much money you have.

Poverty is about unfairness. There are plenty of people with very little money who are insulated from the unfairness of poverty. It’s not inherently bad, and it’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about unfairness and poverty in America, where it’s not supposed to exist. They were right! Tough Choices: How the poor spend money. “It’s stress,” Halima Tinson says as she paces back and forth in front of a San Diego preschool. “But I want my husband to go to school. Because I know when he finishes, I won’t have to worry anymore.” Tinson is trying to get her three-year-old twins signed up for the Head Start program to free up time for her husband. If her twins get into the program, Rickey Ricardo won’t have to stay home to watch the kids during the day. The Tinson-Ricardos are just one of thousands of poor families in San Diego. Barely scraping by in deep poverty Halima Tinson had to take three buses to get from her job across town to the preschool in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego.

“I just got my hours cut because my boss said I don’t have a car. “There’d be some times when we’d go without water for a whole week, maybe two weeks. Ricardo just climbed that same hill to get groceries for the family. But looking around the Tinson-Ricardo’s home, there are some signs of better times… or bad decisions. Being poor changes your thinking about everything. Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir are two leading figures in the hot (if occasionally oversold) field of behavioral economics.

Mullainathan teaches economics at Harvard and is a MacArthur Fellow. Shafir teaches psychology and public policy at Princeton. This week, they released an accessible short book titled "Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much," which summarizes some of the best behavioral economics work. I caught up with Mullainathan this week. An edited transcript follows. Harold Pollack: What are you trying to do with this book? Sendhil Mullainathan: We’re really trying to do two things. As our introduction discusses, there’s been a left turn in my thinking.

To me, that insight was both stupid -- obviously the poor are different from the busy — but also, if true, profound. The second thing I'm trying to do here is a little more subversive. Harold: Many poverty researchers are ambivalent about behavioral economics. Why does poverty persist intergenerationally? America's Real Criminal Element: Lead.

Illustration: Gérard DuBois When Rudy Giuliani ran for mayor of New York City in 1993, he campaigned on a platform of bringing down crime and making the city safe again. It was a comfortable position for a former federal prosecutor with a tough-guy image, but it was more than mere posturing. Since 1960, rape rates had nearly quadrupled, murder had quintupled, and robbery had grown fourteenfold. New Yorkers felt like they lived in a city under siege. Throughout the campaign, Giuliani embraced a theory of crime fighting called "broken windows," popularized a decade earlier by James Q. Giuliani won the election, and he made good on his crime-fighting promises by selecting Boston police chief Bill Bratton as the NYPD's new commissioner. The results were dramatic. But even more remarkable is what happened next.

All in all, it seemed to be a story with a happy ending, a triumph for Wilson and Kelling's theory and Giuliani and Bratton's practice. The PB Effect Did Lead Make You Dumber?