No, this is not a joke. The New York Daily News reports:
The city has been awarded Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Award for its anti-poverty work, Mayor Bloomberg announced during his Sunday radio address.
Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government gave the award to the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity for its “pioneering approach to anti-poverty programs,” Bloomberg’s office said.
And what types of anti-poverty measures did the city put in place?
One of the programs partners with employers in the transportation and health care sectors to find out what kind of skills they need and then works with job seekers to get them the right skills.
Wow, that really is innovative policy. It is such a drastic shift away from those other programs that assume poverty is due to some sort of deficiency on the part of poor people. Just like Clinton’s welfare reform gambit in the 1990s when recipients had to attend demeaning job training courses, this is just more of the same post-Reagan era garbage. I remember my mother, who was on and off welfare throughout my childhood, being forced to attend classes on how to build resumes and sit through motivational speeches by self-absorbed business leaders who fed her the same “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” garbage that we still hear today. This was a woman with 25 years of secretarial experience who saw all of the jobs that used to pay her a living wage become automated over time, pushing us from the ranks of the poor down into the ranks of the very poor. But of course, her poverty was all her fault for being a lazy and shiftless single mother who had to work the double-duty of bringing home a paycheck while raising a son in the big city.
There was a simpler era when leaders in New York City realized that people did not have jobs because there were no jobs to be had. We once had a mayor named Fiorello LaGuardia who, because of his connection to Franklin Roosevelt, was able to funnel millions of dollars into New York City for the purpose of giving people jobs. The Depression was still felt in NYC, but the blow was somewhat cushioned.
Another one of Bloomberg’s innovative anti-poverty programs:
… helps New Yorkers put aside some of their tax refund to build a nest egg, Bloomberg said. Those savings, up to $1,000, are matched 50 cents to the dollar with private donations.
“Last year, participants who saved for the full year built an average of more than $800 in savings — which is extremely important when an unforeseen emergency arises,” Bloomberg said.
Yes, as long as that unforeseen emergency does not include having to bury a loved one, finding a new apartment or any type of major or minor surgery. That extra $800 might be real handy if you lose your monthly Metrocard or need bail money because you were arrested for breaking the city’s vagrancy ordinance (i.e. having the nerve to walk down the street without money in your pocket). God forbid there was a real emergency, you would have to wait a decade or two until you could bury Uncle Joe, move to an even smaller studio apartment or get that enlarged spleen removed.
Seriously, what planet does this man live on? Certainly not the planet of normal people who have to live in a city with an ever-increasing standard of living.
Contrary to what elitists like Bloomberg believe, not to mention their lickspittles among the 99%, poverty is not something that people can be counseled out of. Resume-building seminars, “no-excuses” charter schools and hokey adages about pennies saved being pennies earned are not the things that will end poverty in America. The proof is in the pudding. We have had programs like this for several decades, stretching all the way back into the 1980s, and poverty has gotten worse, way worse, during that same time period.
Between 2009-2010, 75, 000 New Yorkers were pushed down into the ranks of the poor. This was higher than the national average. The fact that the city has received this award is a disgraceful move on the part of Harvard University.