THE PLANK DECEMBER 25, 2006
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece detailing the anti-poverty efforts of Tony Blair's government. Using a combination of tax credits and government-run child care, Britain has seen it's child poverty rate fall precipitously:
The proportion of British children living in poverty fell to 11 percent in the year ended March 2005 from 24 percent in the year ended March 1998, according to one official definition used by the U.K. government. That definition adjusts the poverty line each year for inflation. The U.S. experienced a much smaller drop over the same period, with 17.8 percent of children living in poverty in the year ended March 2005 compared with 19.9 percent in the year ended March 1998, according to the Census Bureau.
Not a bad achievement. Paul Krugman gives Blair his due as well. John Edwards is supposed to announce his candidacy for president next month, and the word is that he'll do so from New Orleans. Poverty will be the focal point of his campaign, and Katrina's path should serve as a helpful reminder of some of the problems we face. Anyway, Edwards should talk about the British example. The former Senator's rhetoric can sound a bit pie-in-the-sky at times, and pointing to a recent poverty-reduction effort that succeeded should be useful. And, crucially, that success occurred in a country that most Americans feel is somewhat similar to our own, both politically and culturally. --Isaac Chotiner