Recent unrest in cities like Baltimore have sparked an array of conversations about race, poverty, and the government’s role in helping individuals in these challenged communities find ways to build better lives. While some see poverty and ensuing violence in these areas as the product of lack of government initiative and funding, others like Fox News and Financial Times columnist Liz Peek take a different perspective.
Peek recently sat down with financial expert Dawn Bennett, host of the “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett” nationally-syndicated radio show, to discuss what she believes to be a lack of social structure, rather than a lack of funds.
Peek’s main point? Struggling cities like Baltimore aren’t hurting for government dollars; in fact, they’re some of the most heavily federally-funded areas in the country. If dollars alone could fix unemployment and persistent poverty, it would have solved the problem by now. Rather, money is squandered by corrupt public officials and is not directed toward programs that help urban youth develop the skills they need to become self-sufficient.
Peek believes the driving force behind these issues to be the inability of impoverished youth to envision a future for themselves, a future in which they’re gainfully employed and can provide for their families. Many students are also graduating high school with little to no knowledge of how to balance a checkbook or handle basic finance; thus, even if they could envision a future of financial stability, they’d lack the skills to manage it. Peek also argues that the absence of adequate role models is a major contributing factor to this dilemma, as is the fact that schools no longer teach the technical courses that many students could put to use in promising careers. Skills like carpentry, mechanics, and other vocational skills have all but been eliminated from the high school classroom; yet, these exact skills are what urban youth could use to secure well-paying jobs and carve out a future for themselves.
Though President Obama has funneled millions of dollars into stimulus packages to spur the economy and has campaigned tirelessly for a higher minimum wage, Peek argues that neither of these initiatives actually creates jobs for low-to-middle income Americans. Stimulus dollars simply weren’t dedicated toward job-creating projects while higher wages only tighten the labor market, making it far less likely that employers will hire more workers. Higher wages might help those already gainfully employed, but it certainly won’t help the millions in poverty looking for a job.
Ultimately, Peek and Bennett believe that if we are to work toward stemming violence and poverty in some of the country’s most challenged urban neighborhoods, we’ll need to focus on providing the skills and resources its youth need to be independent and successful, rather than relying on money alone.
Bennett Group Financial Services LLC, based in Washington, D.C., is a comprehensive financial services firm committed to providing opportunities to clients’ as they seek long-term financial success. Its customized programs are designed with the potential to help grow, lower overall risk and conserve client assets by delivering a high level of personalized service and skill.
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About Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting.com
She discusses educational topics and events in the financial news, along with her thoughts on the economy, financial markets, investments, and more with her live guests, who have included rock legend Ted Nugent, as well as Steve Forbes and Grover Norquist. Listeners can call 855-884-DAWN a as well as take podcasts on the road and forums for interaction.
She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org