The 50-Year War on Poverty: A Minnesota Focus

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On-air date: 
Mon, 09/08/2014
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of the War on Poverty.  Like the War on Drugs and other open-ended declarations of good intentions, this battle seems never ending.  Conservatives claim that the social programs that followed Johnson’s declaration were proof positive that government is not the answer.  After all, we still have poverty, don’t we?

Progressives beg to differ. Thanks to Medicare and improvements in social security, poverty among senior citizens, once commonplace, dramatically declined.  Federal investments in low-income urban and rural communities provided jobs and services that have made a difference in literally millions of lives.  The real issue, progressives argue, is not that government was the problem, but that cutbacks in government programs undermined the great progress that was being made.

In this edition of TruthtoTell, co-hosts Siobahn Kierens and Tom O’Connell will be joined by state senators John Marty and Sandy Pappas and former St. Paul mayor Jim Scheibel. Senators Marty and Pappas were members of the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020 and Scheibel teaches a course on poverty and policy at Hamline University. All three will discuss the work of the legislative commission: What has been done and what remains to be done if we are to make significant progress toward the 2020 goal.

Since any significant reduction in poverty requires action by those who are directly experiencing it, TTT will also hear representatives of two campaigns representing low-wage workers: home care and fast food employees.  Workers making poverty wages represent a growing percentage of low-income Americans.  Here in the Twin Cities and across the nation, workers are pushing back.

On-air guests: 

 State Senator John Marty



 State Senator Sandy Pappas




 Jim Scheibel, former St. Paul mayor and former director of Ramsey County's Community Action Program, a local extension of the federal government's War on Poverty. Scheibel teaches a course on poverty and policy at Hamline University.