Oliver "Buzz" Thomas: A path out of poverty

In the hardscrabble world of Depression-era Alabama, my daddy said there were two pictures on his wall: Jesus and President Franklin Roosevelt. There was more behind those pictures than a wall, of course. Both men were viewed as saviors. One from sin. The other from the next worst thing ”” poverty.

Poverty is a monster. It saps the will and can kill the spirit. For the nearly one in six American children who grow up in it, poverty is also a dream snatcher, oftentimes snatching the dream of a better life before it can rise above the cracked plaster ceiling.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Religion & Culture

8 comments on “Oliver "Buzz" Thomas: A path out of poverty

  1. DonGander says:

    His premise is at least 150 years old. The Northwest Territories were formed with the obligation that any states that were made from them would have education as one of their top priorities.

    Our fight is not for education – our fight is against the education-industrial complex. A wall of separation between government and education would also help.


  2. Doug Martin says:

    Although I agree with the writer’s premise he spent little time indicating how it should be implemented. The accompanying article on Imperial High School (which he misidentifies as Imperial Valley High School in the tag) is a must read. I am a native of the next village down and know Imperial well. I love it as “home” but most would conclude there is no worse place in the continental US. It has every known problem of undocumented immigrants, poverty, mixed ethnicity, parental indifference, drugs, and a summer climate akin to hell. If they made education work there we need to know how they did it and spread the process. This deserves some more elucidation.

  3. John Wilkins says:

    The military-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex get far more money than the “education” industrial comples, which is constantly fighting for scraps. Why? There’s little profit. Although lots of corporations benefit from people educated by public schools. If there is anyone working for a private company who has gone to a state university, a community college, or a public school, they’ve benefited from the public dues.

    An investment in the economy: in repairing our schools – would mean more jobs and better education. And thus, more entrepreneurs. We could improve the lives of millions. Instead, however, we send million of dollars to Iraq, with the idea of improving their lives. Even though they seem to want us out of there.

  4. Katherine says:

    The one in six children growing up in poverty are, statistically, very likely in female-headed never-married households. This is the root cause. There are children who come out of such households who have taken advantage of free public education and made something of themselves, and thanks to God for these. They are the exception rather than the rule.

  5. John Wilkins says:

    #4 – single women are more likely to marry men who have jobs. If there is a rational choice for a woman to marry an unemployed, unskilled, lazy man who can’t take the time to support children, I’m all ears. I think the notion of “root cause” is probably a misleading one. After all, the solutions of your problem might not lead to policies you would like. We could punish men who have children (which doesn’t seem to work); we could mandate marriage (marriage or jail? Same thing if enforced by the state); or abort all children born out of wedlock.

  6. Little Cabbage says:

    Thanks for your posts, John Wilkins! Great job!!

  7. Philip Snyder says:

    #5 – the solution, then, is to not have children until married. It is not the single women that are causing problems, it is the children of women who have no husbands (or too many husbands). The children grow up without a father and male role model.

    If jobs are hard to come by in a certain demographic, then find a demographic where jobs are not hard to come by.

    Being involved in prison ministry, I see the effects of men who don’t support their children and women who have children outside of marriage every time I go to prison. It is a viscious cycle. Children who have only one parent do worse in school because one parent doesn’t have enough time to help with homework or be involved in the school as a volunteer. Thise children also have behavior issues because they never really learn how a man is supposed to behave. Having less chance at a good education in elementary school, junion high and high school lessens the chance to go to college and closes several careers to them.
    My wife and I were working on determining which middle school (Grades 6-8) to send our son. The middle school he is destined for has a very high single parent demographic. The standardized test scores in 6th grade are about the same as most other middle schools. In 7th grade, they are slightly worse. By 8th grade, they are down right terrible. We have decided that our son won’t be going to that school. They do not assign homework because some kids don’t do it at night, so they do the home work in class, cutting into learning time. We will find an appropriate public middle school in our district.

    The kids at the school are hampered when they get to High School and to college. Because of their education, they have less opportunity. Having children out of wedlock is bad for the kids.

    Phil Snyder

  8. John Wilkins says:

    Hi Phil,
    That is “a” solution. One I support. But you don’t give any hint how you would regulate it.

    Now lots of single women decide that yes – one should be married if one has children. So when they do have children, they get abortions.

    Another way is to ensure that people know they have lots of options.

    But if you are going to regulate sex, bless you. It’s a pleasant fantasy.

    Not public policy. In public policy, creating jobs is much easier than regulating sex.