3:10 PM, May 14, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Earlier this week, Harvard professor Robert Putnam did a Q&A with Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein, headlined "Have faith groups been too absent in the fight on poverty?" Here is Putnam's answer to that question:
The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for. This is the most obvious point in the world. It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.
That the venerable author of Bowling Alone would say this, let alone declare it "the most obvious point in the world," is a good reminder of that even the most brilliant social scientists are, more often than not, demonstrably full of it. There's a damning retort to this by Rob Schwarzwalder and Pat Fagan at Religion News Service. Just to give you an idea, a single Christian Charity, World Vision, spends about $2.8 billion on anti-poverty efforts. "That would rank World Vision about 12th within the G20 nations in terms of overseas development assistance," World Vision President Richard Stearns noted in Christianity Today a few years back. Fagan and Schwarzwelder do a lot more number crunching, but the upshot is that Christians spend billions and billions fighting poverty. Even the most generous estimates of the resources devoted to pro-life causes and organizations defending traditional marriage are just a few hundred million dollars. By contrast, the budget of Planned Parenthood alone is just over a billion dollars. I don't know what the Human Rights Campaign's budget is, but if I've walked by their impressive building in Washington many times and I suspect they could marshall the resources of a small nation.
Now, this is bad enough. But Putnam also recently appeared on a panel at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University discussing this very topic with columnist E.J. Dionne, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, and, yes, Barack Obama. The president himself joined in the mendacious chorus:
“Despite great caring and concern,” [Obama] said, “when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what's the defining issue, when you're talking in your congregations, what's the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this”—fighting poverty—“is often times viewed as a 'nice to have' relative to an issue like abortion.”
Nice to have? What would be nice to have is a president who's not so divorced from the reality of American Christians that he thinks he has the moral authority to more or less slander millions of well-intentioned Christians. Their lives and the things they care about could not be more different than how it is casually being characterized by a president who has apparently turned the White House into an Ivory Tower.
What about the inner city pastor who wakes up in the middle of the night everytime there's a knock on the door and rummages through his own fridge to feed the homeless guy on his step? What about the ladies of the church Golden Group who spent the last week turning old colorful pillowcases and bits of ribbon into dresses to send to young girls in Haiti who literally have nothing to wear? What about the six-year-old who comes to school with a spare toothbrush and their birthday money because the teacher at her Lutheran School told her that the Orphan Grain Train is helping people in Nepal who lost everything in an earthquake? What about the accomplished professional who drives across town once a week to tutor poor kids, even though he's got more lucrative things on his schedule, just because it's what he believes Jesus Christ wants him to do?
Calls out Fox News for "propagating" wrong narrative about poverty.12:45 PM, May 12, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Barack Obama says part of the problem with continued poverty in America is misplaced middle-class resentment of the poor, fueled by false media narratives. The president made his remarks at a summit on poverty Tuesday afternoon at Georgetown University in Washington.
9:46 AM, Apr 3, 2015 • By KIMBERLY PINTER
UPDATE: Several readers have accurately pointed out that a page of the IRS website posted on March 25 clearly states that “If you are not required to file a tax return and don’t want to file a return, you do not need to file a return solely to claim this exemption.”
10:31 AM, Jun 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In what some are interpreting as a veiled shot at Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden says that the fact he isn't rich shouldn't be held against him:
I make a lot of money as vice president, Biden said in the Washington, D.C. speech this morning. But, he said, he was the poorest member of Congress when he was a U.S. senator.
For fighting poverty. Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By TAMAR JACOBY
Chalk it up to the polarized times we live in—another sign of just how bad things have gotten. The past few weeks have seen a dazzling burst of intellectual activity and new ideas on the right: Republican elected officials, think tanks, journals, and columnists exploding with fresh thinking about poverty and inequality. But the ferment has been greeted mostly with derision—dismissed as just so much political posturing and jockeying for electoral advantage.
A better approach to poverty.Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By ELI LEHRER and LORI SANDERS
President Obama’s State of the Union speech brimmed with ideas to increase upward mobility and spur job creation—most of which have been tried previously, without good results. From calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to announcing the creation of six new “high-tech manufacturing hubs” centered around research universities, too many of these ideas flow from misplaced confidence in the ability of top-down government policy to steer the economy and lift the circumstances of those in poverty.
'It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband.'8:22 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."
'In many cases...'7:12 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry covered a broad range of topics with his counterpart Pietro Parolin at the Vatican in Rome on Monday. Besides Syria, the Middle East peace process, Sudan, and Cuba, the subject of poverty came up during their discussions.
50,000 words, boiled down—way down.Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Everybody has an opinion about the pope these days and, what’s worse, feels compelled to express it. Rush Limbaugh has an opinion about the pope. He says he finds the pope “upsetting.” And he’s not even Catholic!
10:05 AM, Sep 20, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It is no secret that Washington generally prospers even as the rest of the country struggles. In a rough fashion, prosperity in the capital and economic hardship in the rest of the country are inversely related. An economic crisis means lots of new government pump priming--remember the stimulus?--which means new departments and programs in Washington. More opportunities for the tribe of lawyers and lobbyists.
Hosted by Michael Graham4:36 PM, Aug 16, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with R Street Institute's Lori Sanders on her recent story: Why the GOP needs a reform agenda for anti-poverty programs -- reforms that emphasize work, family, and economic freedom.
The poverty of the GOP’s antipoverty agenda.Aug 26, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 47 • By LORI SANDERS AND ELI LEHRER
After five decades of liberal antipoverty programs that have produced only failure and futility, it is more than time for a conservative response to the problem of poverty—one that emphasizes work, family, and economic freedom.
Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Senegal is an impoverished West African country where some 26 percent of the population subsists on less than $1 a day. Nearly one in five children there are malnourished. In the country’s rural areas, fewer than half the children regularly attend school.