Katrina’s Poor

Politics, Race, The Economy

It’s been so long since my roundup on race, poverty and Katrina, that a new post is needed.

First, some hard numbers on poverty in New Orleans, how it was the sixth poorest city in the country in 2000, how more than half of the poor households didn’t have a car or truck, and how African American’s were disproportionately affected. (Link via Mark Schmitt.)

Second, Max has a brief history of welfare reform” and the war on poverty.”

Now that the poverty rate has been rising since 2000, we get all sorts of rubbish about how the rate isn’t meaningful any longer … Welfare reform was always a fraud. The evidence for its claims of success never amounted to much. How could it be otherwise? Work doesn’t pay a single woman enough to raise children. Never has.

And third, Krugman (via the archives), reminds us that race plays an important role in how we think about poverty:

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, There but for the grace of God go I.” A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, Why should I be taxed to support those people?”

Above all, race-based hostility to the idea of helping the poor created an environment in which a political movement hostile to government aid in general could flourish.

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