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Editorial: Innovative poverty solutions needed

Last Modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 6:37 PM

Poverty has been a seemingly intractable problem in Louisiana for more than a hundred years and nothing government has done has come close to resolving it, let alone turning it around.

Recent statistics show not only is poverty as ingrained as ever in Louisiana, it is getting worse.

According to U.S. Bureau of Census data in 2011, the latest available, poverty in Louisiana has grown from 18.7 percent of the state’s population in 2010, to 20.4 percent in 2011.

Children are particularly impacted by those statistics. Among the ranks of the poor in this state, 28.8 percent were under 18 in 2011, up from 27.3 percent in 2010, according to the data included in Census Bureau data.

Only two other states had higher percentages of the population living in poverty in 2011, New Mexico at 21.5 percent and Mississippi at 22.6 percent, well above the 15.9 percent of people nationwide living in poverty.

The situation is probably even worse this year since the national economy has stalled out and is in danger of slipping back into recession.

What can be done? Government, both state and national, has been a miserable failure in doing anything about poverty, except maybe making it worse.

What is needed are innovative new solutions that take approaches that will get results. People in poverty need help to break the cycle that keeps them and their children trapped in a system of depending on government handouts that destroys individual initiative, breeds crime and misery.

The free enterprise system of economics is the best producer of prosperity that world has ever known. Why not try a free-market approaches to eliminating poverty?

One such organization taking this approach on the global level is Unitas Labs, which is tackling the poverty problems is some of the most poverty stricken nations in the world. Its initiatives concentrate on economic self-empowerment.

There are other such organizations taking a business approach to the poverty problems around the world.

Whatever is now being done about poverty in Louisiana, it isn’t working. We need innovative new approaches and free enterprise, economic self-empowerment solutions. That may be just what we need to turn this state’s economy around.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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