“The difficulty is that poverty involves more than low-income.” This key conclusion of Mead does away with that any solution to poverty that focuses on handouts whether it is tax credits, food, or housing. At best these solutions are a band-aid to temporarily solve a problem, at worst they are an enabling solution that destroys dignity and self-initiative of many people. In any case, these programs usually fail.
A more comprehensive solution is to “restore community.” Mead suggests that the key problem of the poor is lack of community. The poor are above all isolated, as poor in relationships as they are in resources. Programs to help the poor should help them to reorganize their lives to undertake the standard relationships of society.
Mead points to a Success Sequence: get through school, go to work, marry, have children. The most important of these is marriage. In the middle of all the talk on redefining marriage, the surprising fact is that traditional marriage is becoming a better indicator of whether someone is in poverty than race or even income.
While the word “Prophesy” is in the title, this book is not at all a careful attempt to analyze and synthesize the biblical material on prophesy related to the poor. For example, Mead writes, “While the biblical tradition respects private property, it does in principle permit some transfer of wealth from the better off to help the less fortunate. That is implicit in the prophets’ call to the authorities to do more to succor the needy.” No reference is given nor explanation how he came to this conclusion. He is asking his readers to just believe him.
From Prophecy to Charity is worth reading for those whose aim is to develop the objectives of organizations and governments seeking that provide services for the poor. It is a short book, 108 pages, and should be regarded as a brief introduction from a public policy perspective to the topic of poverty.
See also: Connection between marriage and poverty