Can the War on Poverty be won in America? That depends on how you define what victory looks like. If you are the eternal optimist who presumes that somehow our government, or the free-market, or church and private organizations will eliminate poverty during our lifetime and one day relegate it to a history museum, then you may be sorely disappointed. That does not mean that we should wave the white flag and surrender the fight against poverty. Nevertheless, we need to step back and gain a wide-angle view of the interwoven web of multiple moral, social, and economic issues that perpetuate poverty.
Poverty is a much more complex enemy than “pundits” compel us to believe. It is much more than “a lack of money, period” as left-wing social commentators Cornel West and Tavis Smily have passionately declared in their poverty manifesto. And it is so much more than a series of bad choices and habits by the poor, as Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey recently insinuated in his article, “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day.” Such sweeping generalizations and simplistic solutions do not paint a realistic portrait of 21st century poverty in America, but rather reinforce the tired old stereotypes within political debates between the left and right that dominate traditional and social media.