Martha Bailey

Martha BaileyThe “war on poverty” launched in the 1960s was critically important then and remains just as necessary today, according to a Jan. 5 opinion piece in The New York Times by ISR researcher Martha Bailey. Evidence that more work is needed includes the rate of income inequality, now at its highest level in about a century, and the fact that 1 in 5 American children are poor and likely to remain in poverty as adults. Recent critics have decried many anti-poverty programs as expensive, Bailey said. But the expenditures should be measured not as costs but as investments in the future. Programs like Head Start and food stamps have improved children’s prospects, and the Civil Rights Act and its federal enforcement boosted desegregation, improving outcomes for black teenagers and contributing to a halving of the black/white poverty gap. “Many critics sell the war on poverty short,” Bailey wrote. “Renewing our commitment to the war on poverty will open opportunities for more Americans and strengthen our society and economy.”