Ending poverty in Blackbelt

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, July 23, 2016

By Gerald Shirley
Shirley is the headmaster at Ellwood Christian Academy.

Poverty refers to the condition in which people do not have enough income for their needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Millions of Americans live in poverty. Alabama is the nation’s fourth poorest state. Approximately 900,000 people, including 300,000 children live below the poverty line in Alabama.

Dallas County has a population of 41,131. The county’s poverty rate is 35.2 percent. The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job.

Jobs in this area of the Black Belt are currently centered on the garment, timber, and agriculture industries. Students must be trained for needed skills for high-paying technical jobs.

Several solutions have been brought forth to eliminate nationwide poverty.

An article from talkpovety.org, titled “10 Solutions to Fight Economic Inequality” states:

1. Create jobs by investing in infrastructure, developing renewable energy sources, renovating abandoned housing and significantly increasing affordable housing investments, and making other commonsense investments to revitalize neighborhoods.

2. Improve job quality and strengthen families by raising the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020; ensuring pay equity by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act; strengthening collective bargaining; and enacting basic labor standards such as fairer overtime rules, paid sick and family leave, and right to request flexible and predictable schedules.

3. Make the tax code work better for low-wage working families by making permanent the 2009 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit improvements and expanding the EITC for childless workers and noncustodial parents.

4. Invest in human capital by expanding access to high-quality and affordable childcare and early education; creating pathways to good jobs such as apprenticeships, national service opportunities, and a national subsidized jobs program; and implementing College for All to ensure that any student attending public college or university does not need to pay any tuition and fees during enrollment.

5. Ensure that workers with disabilities have a fair shot at employment and economic security.

6. Reform the criminal justice system to end mass incarceration and remove barriers to economic security and mobility for the one in three Americans with criminal records.

7. Enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

8. Expand Medicaid and ensure that all Americans can access high-quality, affordable health coverage.

9. Close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy and special interests and raise taxes on capital income.

10. Protect and strengthen investments in basic living standards such as nutrition, health, and income insurance.