Edwards wants to increase the minimum wage. But very few parents who support families make the minimum wage. He wants the first year of tuition at public universities or community colleges to be free, but community colleges already are extremely cheap, and college is already massively subsidized. He wants to "get more poor men into the work force by connecting them with more jobs." But this would likely amount to another job-training program. We've already spent $200 billion on job-training programs, with minimal results at best.
His idea of creating "work bonds" that would give poor families $500 a year to be deposited into a savings account is more promising, since it would give the poor a small stake in investor capitalism. But more important is changing the perverse incentives of the welfare system. Edwards pays lip service to the need to "finish the job of welfare reform," but that's meaningless unless the work requirements that have eroded since the welfare reform of 1996 are reinvigorated and extended to other means-tested programs like food stamps and housing.
Edwards is right to focus attention on the devastation that is the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. If only he had bolder, more courageous ideas to address it.
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