"A Poverty of Thought" was an appropriate headline for George F. Will's Sept. 13 column given his "blame the victim" script. He highlighted the percentage of unmarried births to African American women but did not mention, as E.J. Dionne did the same day, that the Census Bureau reported that 4.1 million Americans "slipped" into poverty between 2001 and 2004. Increasingly, those in poverty are working families, married or otherwise cohabiting.

Mr. Will suggested that graduating from high school will keep people out of poverty, but what does it qualify graduates to do? As industrial jobs are exported and replaced by minimum-wage jobs not commensurate with the cost of living, more people will "slip" into poverty.

We need to spend what is needed so that no Americans live in Third World conditions. How about rescinding tax cuts that make it necessary for us to borrow to run the government and reduce programs that would help the poor?

We owe the children affected by Hurricane Katrina decent housing, good health care and an education that ensures that they can support themselves. Why must anyone be poor in the richest nation in the world? Surely, we who are educated, married and didn't have children before we wed can find an answer.




I wish that George F. Will would acknowledge what effect greater access to birth control and -- dare I say it -- abortions would have on our nation's poor.

How long will it be before conservatives realize that poverty can be defeated only if women are empowered to take control over their reproductive lives?




George F. Will's "three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty" missed a dilemma: Some people who follow the rules still struggle financially.

Mr. Will said poverty can be avoided if you "graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager."

But many recent college graduates still seek employment and consider themselves lucky to find retail jobs. Those jobs, however, often pay only minimum wage, which even for full-time employment results in an annual salary just above the poverty line, and many lack health insurance.


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