“Fighting poverty” means at least two things: (1) alleviating the suffering of the poor by providing food, shelter, and other material necessities, and (2) actually reducing the ranks of the poor. Poverty programs are reasonably good at (1) and terrible at (2). They are terrible at (2), argues A. Barton Hinkle, because they cannot impose the one condition most likely to help people escape poverty: marriage. The government cannot, and should not, force people to get married. But there are some things it could do to make climbing the economic ladder easier.
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