• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Cal Thomas on Bob Woodson: Look Who’s Winning the War on Poverty

    Columnist Cal Thomas writes today about his site visits this week in the D.C. area with longtime advocate for grassroots community initiatives Bob Woodson:

    I spent last Tuesday riding around Washington and Waldorf, Md., visiting housing projects Woodson’s organization supports and studying his success. I met former drug addicts, dealers, prostitutes and pimps—all of whom testify to having been through failed government programs—who now say they are clean, sober and off the streets.

    Thomas also visited initiatives launched by Pastor Shirley Holloway, “a no-nonsense, black woman who heads Kingdom Village in Waldorf. It provides housing and, more importantly, a home environment for many who have not had a place to live—other than prison, in some cases—in years. She also runs House of Help/City of Hope in a formerly tough (until she took over) neighborhood in Southeast Washington.”

    Testimonies of the effectiveness of Holloway’s outreach are important news, especially at a time when the financial crunch means tightening the belt on government’s vast array of programs. The fact that the rolls of dependents on government cash and benefits have soared throughout the past four decades is evidence that, regardless of intentions, the conventional anti-poverty agenda has failed. In fact, its main effect has been to sustain families in an impoverished state rather than liberate them from dependency.

    This is, in part, because much of the trillions of dollars spent to fight poverty, according to Woodson, “doesn’t go to poor people but to organizations that claim to serve poor people.”

    But the problem with government’s approach to poverty goes beyond administrative inefficiency. It focuses on material need, but it is inadequate to help develop the full capacities and potential of the individuals it serves.

    In contrast, the neighborhood leaders who are part of the nationwide network of Woodson’s Center for Neighborhood Enterprise have empowered families and individuals—in the worst circumstances and against the greatest odds—to reclaim their lives and move to self-sufficiency.

    As Holloway’s efforts show, for those whose poverty is rooted in behavior and addiction, this journey begins with an internal transformation. That spiritual revitalization is accomplished through outreach that is personal, long-term, and inspired and motivated by faith.

    As Thomas notes, Woodson’s efforts embody conservative principles and our nation’s founding values of personal responsibility, reciprocity, self-sufficiency, and mutual aid.

    One aspect of the market economy that Woodson seeks to deploy to overcome social breakdown is the model of the entrepreneur:

    Just as a venture capitalist provides assistance to an entrepreneur enabling a project that starts in a garage to become a Fortune 500 company, investment should be made in these smaller social units that have the seeds of innovation. As it stands, the rules of the social economy are inverted from those of the market economy, where creative prospects and potential are nurtured and supported.

    Instead of devoting ever more resources to the failed government War on Poverty, resources should be freed to advance Woodson’s approach. For policymakers, this means eliminating roadblocks of regulation and rethinking a failed model that equates “credentials” with “qualification to serve,” clearing the way for more to join this cause.

    Promoting an innovative and effective alternative to our nation’s anti-poverty agenda has real-world ramifications for the economy, the lives of families and their children, and America’s civil society.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Cal Thomas on Bob Woodson: Look Who’s Winning the War on Poverty

    1. Bobbie says:

      It's so important to reach out to people. Especially ones that have been trapped by government's misguidance. If they know how much they are worth to the world as an individual, learn personal strengths, use their abilities to set their own personal goals, uninfluenced by any outside influence (government,) they will know government social dependency isn't the answer or needed.

      Thank you to the Mr's Thomas and Woodson and the honorable and Pastor, Shirley Holloway. Love can be tough, but the answer is always love.

    2. Don Harper, Lubbock, says:

      While the liberals are demanding "shared sacrifice" by wanting to increase taxes on the rich, what we need is "shared responsibility", where the mooching class gets off their collective butts and contributes some effort to their own well-being.

    3. Dave Wilson says:

      Did Ms. Caprara transpose the names of Woodson and Holloway in her article?

    4. Daver (Ft Worth) says:

      Don sparked an interesting point–now that we are all in the collective medical pool of paying for each other's med care, (at least until next court ruling) I think we should know how much the collective butts weigh? This is probably "fatist" but why do I, who routinely has to bust my ass to maintain a healthy body weight, need to pay for the other 50% who ascribe to the philosophy that a Big Mac and Fries a day, keep the employer's away?

      Could there be a correlation between top 10% income and body weight?

      I'm thinking there is!!

      Have I mentioned I haven't been very proud of much my nation has done since January of 2009?

    5. Robert, Michigan says:

      To assume that there is a "mooching class" devalues a lot of people who are struggling to get by, but are very hard-working, industrious, and honest people, who do not want to pull food stamps out of their wallet any more than you do. Stop name calling and putting others down and instead start giving some non-governmental solutions to a problem that is getting out of control.

      To start – 1.) Any church that does not give away at least 10% of their gross income to their community should be penalized. 2.) Any non-profit agency who's operating expenses are greater than 60% of their budget should have their "non-profit" status revoked.

    6. Leon Lundquist, Durango CO says:

      The Progressive Demo-crats can be counted upon the Fight Any Program that actually works! The audacity of the Dems is unbelievable because the War On Poverty did nothing but perpetuate poverty! I thank you for this Article, I have been screaming in the wilderness about this very thing for decades! I was ‘crazy’ then, but now I am ‘hateful!’ Does that look like improvement to you? Is that Transparency? No. The Demo-crats are not who they seem, not who they say they are. Demo-crats are actually Demolition Plutocrats, a whole American Political Party has been ‘taken over’ by card carrying Communists!

      I am so sick of the RINOs being blind to the facts! Even here at Heritage Foundation, we put forward our solution? It preserves the Income Tax! That is CRAZY! Income Tax is a Progressive idea! It was made to Vanish Capital! Income tax makes Capital Formation impossible for small shoe string American Businesses! What happened! How can a Conservative Think Tank PRESERVE the Income Tax?

      It is workable to use Faith Based Drug Rehab Programs. That’s true. But behind all of that is the crazy Drug War, where we lumped all the drugs together so that even today you can’t tell the difference in Law between relatively harmless recreational drugs and horribly disfiguring and destructive drugs! We have fallen for so much crap from the Left (for a hundred years) we have lost the capacity to see the Truth!

    7. Bobbie says:

      I didn't mean "any' outside influence. Just "government" outside influence. Positive influence that empowers individuals to understand their own personal freedom and what it takes to be free, is always welcome and THAT NEVER comes from government or they wouldn't be so "'big, big."

      the more government the less freedom. The more government is in your life, the more you're cheating yourself and your neighbor.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.