Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: What's the answer to poverty in PA?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 18, 2014 2:12 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, June 19, 2014:

Poverty report 300 x 170.jpg

Today, more than 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s population lives in poverty – equal to about 1.5 million residents. It isn’t just confined to the inner cities or very rural areas either, but reaches all communities throughout the state, affecting everyone from college graduates struggling with loans to single-parent households.

According to federal guidelines, a single person with an income of less than $11,670 is living in poverty.  For a family of four, the poverty rate is $23,850.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk we will examine the state’s newest policy initiative created to combat poverty, Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty. Designed for the purpose of analyzing the barriers that keep individuals and families from overcoming poverty, it also surveys the best and worst practices for Pennsylvanians in their war against poverty.

Joining us to discuss the initiative and its endeavors will be State Representative Dave Reed, who is directing the efforts, and Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, PA Chapter, Ron Simon.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-19 08:28

    Ben emails:

    I applaud efforts that help and move people off the bottom but I think efforts to change the prejudice and lack of willingness to help beyond small percentages of monetary donations fall short. The upper class needs to make as much effort as the lower class.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-19 08:36

    Allison from Red Lion:

    Thank you for bringing this subject to light. Egon's comments are always insightful.

    Maslow's Hierarchy is the key to success; basic needs must be met before people can achieve. Shelter, Safety, Food Water.

    The causes of poverty, as well as the disadvantages and remedies, are misunderstood by most Americans. Understanding is the first step toward long term solutions.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-19 08:45

    Listener comments:

    I don’t know if you have talked about it but, criminal backgrounds significantly impact employ-ability. When a person gets out of prison directly to the street and not on probation or parole, it is very hard for them to find a job.

    If a person is on the Megan’s list it is even harder to find a job.

    Could your guests discuss plans to address that or explain any statistics that they know of how criminal backgrounds affect poverty?

    Especially in PA, recently, most people do not get parole. Even with education, it is impossible frequently.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-20 07:57

    Email from Elizabeth:

    Hello Scott,
    Great show.
    I am originally from Canada. They have very generous social benefits. More than here. Sadly, human nature is such that if it is available, people WILL take advantage of it. My parents were hard working folks, who never did take advantage of the system; but somehow, my brother has developed this sense of self entitlement. He was on unemployment, receiving more money than my husband, here, who worked for the federal government, at a very decent job. He later allowed himself to go on welfare, & kept decreasing his needs, to fit his decreasing income… Did I mention that his IQ, when younger, was way above average…Finally, the Québec government offered him some sort of training & gave him an ultimatum to go to work or benefits would stop. He did.
    My niece had a friend who was tired of living under her Mom & Dad’s rule. Got herself pregnant, on purpose, Had the state (Province tax dollars) to pay for her apartment, child care, while attending practically free college!!!! Away from the rules of her parents…
    I know 2 person who took advantage of a Sabbatical leave, while keeping their job. Supposedly having a nervous breakdown.
    Lastly, a small town had an unusual number of folks on welfare/disability, still in Québec province, the government sent a letter to every recipient stating that a review team would be coming to town, meeting with every recipient, & anyone deemed unqualified to receive these benefits would not only be removed from the recipient list, they would have to pay back some moneys. This was to happen in a few months; during the remaining time, 80% of those recipient, from that town, remove themselves from that recipient list… Somehow, all of a sudden their health got better, & they could work or at the very least do without the State’s money????
    I agree, as a civilized society, we need some sort of safety net, but we need to keep those folks accountable, reminding them that those benefits do not come from some sort of ghost entity, but from their neighbors, family members, hardworking folks who get up in the morning, go to work, take orders from our bosses & finally, PAY taxes.
    Thank you

  • starchild img 2014-07-01 07:20

    Reforming our Domestic Relations system and encouraging parents to be better parents by teaching them to "Work Smarter not Harder" at the expense of their children. Too many children are left home throughout the day and sometimes even at night so single men and women can provide for their families. This further erodes family values like eating dinner together in order to stay informed and knowledgeable about children's education, friends and activities.