There is an oft-repeated parable that goes something like this:
One day a group of villagers was working in the fields by a river. Suddenly someone noticed a baby floating downstream. A woman rushed out and rescued the baby, brought it to shore and cared for it. During the next several days, more babies were found floating downstream, and the villagers rescued them as well. But before long there was a steady stream of babies floating towards them.
Soon the whole village was involved in the many tasks of rescue work: pulling these poor children out of the stream, ensuring they were properly fed, clothed, and housed, and integrating them into the life of the village.
Before long, however, the village became exhausted with all this rescue work. Some villagers suggested they go upstream to discover how all these babies were getting into the river in the first place. Had a mysterious illness stricken these poor children? Had the shoreline been made unsafe by an earthquake? Was some hateful person throwing them in deliberately? Was an even more exhausted village upstream abandoning them out of hopelessness?
“Don’t you see,” cried some, “if we find out how they’re getting in the river, we can stop the problem and no babies will drown? By going upstream we can eliminate the cause of the problem!” (Credit: Bread for the World)
One group of state legislators is similarly concerned about the “rescue work” being done in Pennsylvania to address the effects of poverty. The House Majority Policy Committee commissioned a study to identify barriers that low-income Pennsylvanians face when attempting to reach self-sufficiency. In April 2014, the committee released the preliminary findings of their Beyond Poverty report.
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