Laying down covering fire during an election year:
If I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor.
For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state. Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.? Perfect poverty traps.
I would recognize that a perfect recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that prevent them from climbing out of poverty.
We can expect to see more of this tripe as the year unfolds. What Brian is trying (and so far failing) to do is deflect attention away from the realities of the recession, and put forward the idea that people are struggling because of their own choices. All they have to do is "want" to work and a good job will magically materialize for them. The truth is much more complex and disturbing:
In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it's ever seen -- 77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether.
To get unemployment insurance, you have to actively search for work and prove that you're doing so. The drop in the labor force suggests that this incentive was effective. Without it, more people just give up.
Meanwhile, the burden of easing the financial distress caused by unemployment has shifted from public programs to private charities. According to Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Banks, they're struggling to cope.
Programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits aren't incentives to not work, they are bridges between careers. Without the bridge, you don't magically fly through the air to the next career, you fall into the abyss. And your children fall with you.