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Poll: The Growing Problem of Poverty in New Jersey -- Can It Be Cured?

A new anti-poverty initiative has just gotten underway. Can it really do anything to change the lives of the poor?

In Trenton yesterday, four Assembly committees convened to begin studying the seemingly intractable problem of poverty in New Jersey.

The meetings were part of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s recently announced anti-poverty initiative. One of the goals: begin studying the situation and come up with solutions that hopefully work better than the tried-and-true programs that seem incapable of relieving this stubborn issue -- whether due to underfunding, or poor oversight, or both.

As might be expected, the statistics that were offered as evidence were almost unrelievedly bleak. The Assembly speaker himself set the tone for much of the discussion by indicating that “New Jersey has higher poverty than it has had in the last 50 years. It’s 40 percent greater than before the recession of 2008.”

Those are disquieting comments, but how accurately do they reflect reality? We’re asking you …

… Do you think New Jersey has a poverty problem?

  • Poverty in a capitalistic system seems inevitable. There will be winners and losers. Yes, we need to provide some sort of safety net, but it shouldn’t be so strong as to encourage people to live in it. On balance, I think we’re getting it right

  • Social programs are not going to cure poverty. Only education can solve this intractable problem, and what we need to do is get that right.

  • Why is the state responsible for this issue? It seems to me that it is merely another symptom of the growing inequality in this country. We need to take a hard look at money in politics, who this country is rewarding through tax breaks and why so many ordinary people struggle in a nation that has so much.

  • The state can and should do much to alleviate the poverty issue. Affordable housing, an increase in the minimum wage, social safety nets, are all programs created as a hedge against falling into deep poverty. We need to expand them.

  • It is shameful to think that 2.8 million of our fellow New Jerseyans are impoverished. That should be unthinkable, but it’s the natural result of New Jerseyans callous lack of feeling toward people they simply don’t notice. What’s worse is that our state government has reflected this attitude, by not attacking the problem with vigor.

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