It appears that journalists at the Fayetteville Observer have produced a new “must read” series on the disastrous consequences of poverty in North Carolina’s sixth largest city. “Poverty’s Price” debuted yesterday and will run through the week. Click here and here, respectively, to read the first two installments: “Poverty: What Fayetteville can learn from Baltimore” and “The poor stay poor.”
As they always do, the right-wing think tankers will dismiss such reports by ascribing lack of drive and initiative to the poor, but as the lead editorial in Sunday’s edition of the Observer explained, endemic poverty of this kind is something that all members of the community bear responsibility for:
“This is not a good place to be poor. In fact, Cumberland County is one of the worst places in the country for children born into poverty.
They won’t just stay poor here, but they’ll actually fare worse than their parents. And this cycle will repeat itself, generation after generation.
We were stunned, earlier this year, when we came across the national study that documented this dismal fate for Fayetteville’s impoverished children. Harvard economists studied the lifetime economic outcomes for children across the nation. They found that in some areas, poor children have a pretty good chance of doing better than their parents. In others, they’re likely to stay at the same income level.
But here, they can expect earnings that are 18 percent below their parents’. According to the study, children in only 13 of the nation’s 2,478 counties fare worse….
As today’s story points out, this extensive poverty has consequences, our crime rate foremost among them. The problem is well-known in cities across the country, so common that it has a self-descriptive name: the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
The syndrome that spins out of our poverty problem is making the rest of us poor, too. Fighting the crime and imprisoning the perpetrators is costing this community millions of taxpayer dollars every year. Breaking the cycle would have an enormous payoff. But that will require investment, and this state is moving in the opposite direction – cutting, for example, early-education funding instead of increasing it to meet community needs.
We hope our readers will follow ‘Poverty’s Price’ throughout the coming week and then begin a community conversation about what we need to do to improve our children’s chances in life. We’ve all got a lot riding on it.”
Let’s hope readers across the state pay attention. For while the problems of Fayetteville are certainly dire, the same could be said for scores of communities across North Carolina.