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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 20, 2014 at 7:02 PM

War on Poverty: The benefits of public assistance programs for the poor

Paid sick leave to lift women out of poverty

Kathleen Parker’s column “Marriage as a solution to poverty” [Opinion, Jan. 15] left out some key solutions to lifting women out of poverty, including paid sick days, and family and medical leave insurance. Both are proven to build economic security for women and their families.

Children in families with lower incomes are much less likely to have a parent with access to paid sick leave, which is critical to both the physical and economic well-being of families. Family and medical leave insurance reduces reliance on public assistance, including food stamps, for new moms.

Marriage shouldn’t be considered a ticket to economic security for women, especially for those who have split from an abusive partner. We have bills before the Legislature right now that can help women take a big step toward a brighter economic future for their families.

If policymakers, and the residents they represent, are truly interested in lifting women out of poverty, it’s time to take a vote to ensure access to paid sick days and family and medical leave insurance for all workers.

Tatsuko Go Hollo, Seattle

Keep effective programs that are providing assistance to the poor

Thanks for the Nicholas D. Kristof column on the War on Poverty and the achievements of the past 50 years to improve the lives of America’s most vulnerable citizens [“Progress in the war on poverty,” Opinion, Jan. 11].

It is disheartening and infuriating to hear the constant barrage of untruths spouted by those on the right advocating deep cuts to highly effective safety net programs, such as food stamps, unemployment benefits, Social Security and Medicare.

Let’s look at the facts because the numbers speak for themselves:

• In 1960, 35 percent of older Americans were poor, by 2012 that had dropped to 9 percent.

• Poverty rates have fallen by one-third since 1968.

• Roughly 27 million people were lifted out of poverty with the help of social programs between 1968 and 2012.

• Even though there’s room for improvement, Head Start graduates still have higher high school graduation rates and college attendance rates.

With one in five American children hungry and prolonged unemployment for millions of our citizens, we must support those programs that are working and fight the War on Poverty as long as it takes until all Americans have their basic needs met.

Melessa Rogers, Burien

0 Comments | More in Poverty | Topics: Kathleen Parker, Nicholas D. Kristof, War on Poverty

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