An age- old prob­lem

The Compass - - OPINION -

The is­sue of poverty is an age­less won­der in­deed, both in the sense that it’s a prob­lem af­fect­ing peo­ple of all ages, and also one that will just never die off, no mat­ter how long it has been an is­sue.

While peo­ple may hope to one day erad­i­cate an is­sue ever so detri­men­tal to the well-be­ing of those it im­pacts, poverty is a tricky beast. At best, a col­lec­tive ef­fort can min­i­mize this.

Peo­ple will slip through the cracks. Poverty can be in­her­ited if one is born into a fam­ily with par­ents who grew up them­selves learn­ing noth­ing but bad habits to cope with mount­ing gro­cery and util­ity bills. It can keep peo­ple in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship to­gether, even if one half wants to get out. With the sup­port of the spouse’s in­come a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor, get­ting out may not be an op­tion.

The govern­ment has an im­por­tant role to play in mak­ing head­way. The work it is now putting into the poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy could go a long way in at least help­ing move some peo­ple out­side of the poverty bracket.

One mat­ter to be cog­nizant of is how el­i­gi­bil­ity for dif­fer­ent so­cial pro­grams will ben­e­fit the pop­u­la­tion. If an in­di­vid­ual’s in­come from a job sud­denly pushes them out­side of the el­i­gi­bil­ity bracket for a drug card, for ex­am­ple, he or she may not be in­clined to take a job. In­crease the el­i­gi­bil­ity thresh­old for a so­cial pro­gram, and soon you will have new peo­ple just on the pe­riph­ery who po­ten­tially may feel dis­ap­pointed to not be re­ceiv­ing such ben­e­fits while them­selves work­ing a low-play­ing job with few ben­e­fits.

The ag­ing pop­u­la­tion is cer­tainly a con­cern as well. Se­niors from the baby boom gen­er­a­tion will need a lot of at­ten­tion.

But the young peo­ple of to­day are an im­por­tant group, too. If they are given the proper level of treat­ment, with strong sup­port for ed­u­ca­tion, nutrition, ath­let­ics, and other en­rich­ing mat­ters, the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion will be all the more pre­pared to avoid the pit­falls of poverty. The youth rep­re­sent a great long-term in­vest­ment.

Of course, that leaves those in the mid­dle. To­day’s work­ing poor, the dis­abled, sin­gle par­ents and many abo­rig­i­nals face chal­lenges that need ad­dress­ing.

It’s a bal­anc­ing act in need of care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion. In an ideal world, no­body should be left be­hind.

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