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Sat Dec 15, 2012, 08:29 AM

This Week in Poverty: Kristof’s Swing and Miss


In a somewhat bizarre op-ed last Sunday, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof acknowledged, “I’m no expert on domestic poverty,” and then seemingly set out to prove it.

He drew a dangerous and brazen, anecdotally based conclusion that the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which benefits one of the most vulnerable populations in the country—low-income children with disabilities and their parents—must be cut and those resources diverted to early education initiatives in order to help children escape poverty. The thrust of Kristof’s argument is based on a secondhand account of parents in Appalachian Kentucky who allegedly pulled their children out of a literacy program in order to continue receiving disability benefits.

Let me acknowledge that I, too, am no expert. I depend on experts and researchers, advocates and academics, and low-income people who know their experiences better than anyone, to write this column. As a result, I rarely comment on the writing of others.

But in this case, we are talking about a columnist who has a profound influence on the poverty debate. In fact, sources say that the op-ed is now being endorsed by a powerful children’s advocate with an impressive progressive pedigree who is distributing it to Congressional Democratic offices. Also, Kristof showed more than a little chutzpah when he took issue with those who were critical of his column in a Sunday night tweet: “My column today turns tables, irritating many liberals and RT’d by conservatives.… A bit sad. 实事求是!” In a second tweet he translated the Chinese phrase: “‘Seek truth from facts.’ Evidence, not ideology!”

*** that column and his subsequent tv interviews were infuriating for ignorance.
i know some few duers had paid attention to his column and interviews.

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Reply This Week in Poverty: Kristof’s Swing and Miss (Original post)
xchrom Dec 2012 OP
byeya Dec 2012 #1
xchrom Dec 2012 #2
PETRUS Dec 2012 #3
xchrom Dec 2012 #4

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:08 AM

1. I' ve long thought Kristoff is a male version of Dowd. Mediocre thinker who once


in a while gets something right but usually is irrelevant and a waste of space.

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Response to byeya (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:09 AM

2. ...

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:22 AM

3. K&R. Dean Baker's takedown:

In Sunday’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof tells us that he hopes “budget negotiations in Washington may offer us a chance to take money from SSI [Supplemental Security for low-income children with severe disabilities] and invest it in early childhood initiatives.” In essence, we need destroy an effective social insurance program for children with severe disabilities in order to … Save the Children!

In the real world, these two things — basic economic supports for low-income parents caring for severely disabled children and educational initiatives — are complementary. As Rebecca Vallas and I have documented, in papers for the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Center for American Progress, the data show that Supplemental Security reduces family economic insecurity and supports parents’ efforts to best care for their severely disabled children.

But in Kristof’s World, which based on his opinion piece, appears to be located in the small, all-white and staunchly Red-voter Breathitt County in rural Kentucky, economic support for parents caring for disabled children and early childhood programs only work at cross purposes. Citing anecdotal evidence from a sample of one person living there as well as the testimony of a long-standing critic of Supplemental Security who has proposed block granting it, Kristof sensationally claims that parents are “profiting from children’s illiteracy” and pulling their kids out of literacy classes in order to keep them disabled and eligible for Supplemental Security.

Of course, there is a venerable traditional of mainstream journalists spreading folkloric urban (and now rural) myths about Supplemental Security. The cycle is well-established—first, mainstream journalists claim that parents are “coaching their children” to appear disabled (prominent in the 1990s) or that parents are medicating their children to make them seem disabled (the most recent scare pre-Kristof), then investigators at GAO, SSA, and other places study the issue empirically rather than just relying on a few anecdotal tales and find that the claims are unfounded. So, for example, with the most recent medication scare, GAO found that children who took medication were actually less likely to qualify for SSI than those who did not. Meanwhile, resources and attention are diverted from focusing on the real-world ways we could make programs like Supplemental Security even more effective for disabled kids and their parents. And so it goes.


Read more: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/cepr-blog/nicholas-kristof-bravely-urges-congress-to-cut-supplemental-security-for-children-with-severe-disabilities

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:23 AM

4. +1

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