Yesterday, I explained why all the work that agencies like the one I work for aren't enough to get everyone out of poverty and to a state of self-sufficiency. There just aren't enough well-paying jobs to go around, even with a whole lot of public benefits to reduce a family's need for cash. At minimum wage, a family would have to work 3-1/2 full-time jobs to reach self-sufficiency in Somerville. That's hard to do, with one or two adults.
People like me do our best at the family and city levels. What we need, though, are social and national changes. My boss, Jack Hamilton, has written that three policies would go a long way toward ending poverty:
1. A comprehensive, single-payer, universal plan for health coverage for all Americans;
2. A progressive reform of the tax system; and
3. An increase in the minimum wage, and the indexing of it to inflation.
Of course McCain is not in favor of any of the three policies. But neither is Obama. Yet. And he won't be, unless we can mobilize enough people to say long enough, loud enough, often enough, "Pass these policies or else!" In other words, we need more than self-sufficiency AND we need more than policy change. To achieve either of them, we need a social movement.
More about that tomorrow.