How would you restructure the federal safety net?

Let’s try not to get partisan here and focus on policy. Less about politics, more about policy? Ideas, not partisanship.

Mostly aimed at the US but I’d be cool with hearing about the intricacies of your country’s like systems in Europe. Are there any nuances like specific programs you’d do away with or at least cut while increasing funding to other programs?

How would you feel about funding streams to non-profit organizations or basically contracting out operations and programs to reputable charities like Faith Based Initiatives and Neighborhoods, wasn’t that an idea that would have had a ton of promise if scaled up like public private partnerships with non profits or collaboration (and ample grants) to the social sector? Another idea I like Promise Neighborhoods based off the Harlem Children’s Zone, what if this was an idea that President Obama could have done more with, on the other side of the coin, couldn’t Republicans have accept this program at least, if scaled up at a massive scale, wouldn’t the effects be promising (I read that the charter schools, not the community services correlated with higher test scores but what if the benefits are more long term and non tangible)? For example, imagine the possibilities if HCZ went nationwide in poor neighborhoods throughout the country like if the program received $180 billion or $240 billion a year, changes wouldn’t be immediate but imagine the effects in 20 years, wouldn’t it look promising at the very least?

I think the safety net has already undergone many revisions. It it what it is for a combination of political and practical reasons.

The best safety net the govt can provide is focusing on long term growth with low unemployment. This situation creates an environment where fewer people need aid and the public at large are more willing to help those that do need help.


I’d say underemployment is more important than unemployment. Among non-disabled working age adults who are receiving welfare, those who are employed but not making enough to get by are a lot more than those not working. Even of the unemployed, many are only unemployed for a few weeks or maybe a couple of months.

Underemployment also contributes to a larger class of people who make enough to not receive welfare, but not enough to help others.

I tend to think that’s a bigger problem, and one that can get missed in economic calculations. I know we have issues here with skilled jobs being lost, while the number of retail and other low level jobs has increased. So there might be a net gain in jobs and people employed, but far more people aren’t making enough to get by reliably.


I think low unemployment solves both problems, as best as they can be solved.

low unemployment means there are opportunities for the under employed to move up in their field of work, or jump fields into something that pays better. Not much can help the under employed and unmotivated though.


As someone with experience with the child welfare system, what are your thoughts on replicating and scaling up programs like the the Harlem Children’s Zone to other cities and rural communities as a way to build grassroots community “Cradle to Career” networks to combat generational poverty?

I think that successful programs should be franchised out to other cities and towns, especially programs that improve the high school graduation rate, which I believe is one of the major causes of under-employment.

People simply cannot expect to get a high-paying job if they don’t have a high school diploma, and if they haven’t acquired basic skills like reading, writing, and 'rithmetic!! It just can’t happen! It has nothing to do with racism or classicism or any “ism”–these types of good jobs with wages and benefits, including trades like welding and machinists, require post-high school education in a trade school, and you can’t enroll in post-high-school education programs if you don’t have that high school diploma! ’

I would like to see more franchises of Figure Skating In Harlem. It sounds silly to those who don’t care for figure skating, but it’s an amazing program that’s been around for a couple of decades now, and the high school graduation rate for those who get involved with the program is up in the high 90s. In fact, now we’re seeing many of the FSH alumni graduating from college, using the skills they learned in FSH. The problem is, most cities have no clue that this program exists, and since it sounds so “niche,” they don’t even give it a chance when they do hear a mention of the program.

I would also like to see more grass-roots programs in churches and communities organizations and even in private homes, that help young moms (and dads, if there is one around) to learn how to raise their children from birth to be high achievers in school. I cannot believe how incredibly under-prepared so many children are for school–some of the kids don’t even know their last name!!!

I simply refuse to believe that minorities and poor people of any color or nationality are incapable of preparing their children for success in school! It’s soooooo easy, and so cheap, free in fact! Just simple things like turning off the TV and the loud music and TALKING face to face, eye to eye, with your child. And reading, for at least a half hour, EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY DAY OF THE YEAR!!! without fail, and GOOD books that are FREE at the local libraries! (And if the truth were told, many people would be happy happy HAPPY to GIVE their boxes of children’s books away because they’re almost impossible to sell at yard sales).

There are lots and lots of other easy-to-do activities that even poor parents and grandparents and caregivers can do to help improve the chances that their child will do well in school, and THAT’S the Real Key to escaping the curse of under-employment–education!

Not necessarily. You have to look at the distribution of jobs. A large number of low level jobs doesn’t inevitably result in a corresponding increase in better paid positions. You’d also have to look at existing barriers to moving up - e.g. whether people have sufficient free time to get credentials, what resources are available to get them, and so forth.

One big immediate thing I think would be investing heavily into public transit. I know in my own experience that’s a big one. For one, a lot of opportunities are restricted if you can’t get there because the bus doesn’t run. Not just job opportunities - this can be things like being discouraged from going to the library because it’s 90min each way. And don’t underestimate the effect of the time suck either.

Time is money really is true. And I think frequently people don’t really consider time and energy costs to poor people. Humans need downtime; we’re just not capable of continually doing 16h a day. Every extra half hour here or hour there costs.

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I would start with the most basic, make it non federal.


I don’t object to keeping the feds out of it but I think piece meal solutions don’t help near enough, either. City level solutions wind up being totally dependent upon city finances. Some could do a great job and others would offer basically nothing. Moving up to state levels is better but once again, some states are wealthier than others and some states are more motivated to actually tackle the problems whereas some states seem to like being at the bottom!

The advantage of federal level programs is the availability to everyone regardless if they live in the cities or rural. Some problems are specific to areas but not everywhere. Those solutions would be best served by county programs within those specific areas. Perhaps looking at each problem and determine which level could address it best and setting up programs accordingly?

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Why do you imagine Fed level funding has money to burn than a local community is unwilling to provide for their neighbors?

Sure, the federal funding solution looks elegant on paper, but funding is a problem and so is efficacy and effectiveness. Study up Subsidiarity and why it is the Church recommended approach, in spite of application varying be location.

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