inthesetimes.com — In 1818, the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, New York’s first anti-poverty organization, issued a report advocating the need to relieve “the community from the pecuniary exactions, the multiplied exactions, and threatening dangers” associated with paupers. These middle-class worthies were alarmed at the cost of heating the almshouse in winter, the appearance of women and children scavenging for coal and food scraps along city streets, and the able-bodied men left idle by a serious economic downturn. The report listed the causes of urban poverty: intemperance in drinking, idleness, “want of economy,” gambling, pawnbrokers and “imprudent and hasty marriages.” Nowhere in the 20-page document did the authors mention the twin burdens of urban laboring people: low wages and few jobs. The Society’s report brings to mind Mitt Romney’s comment about the 47 percent. Yet unlike Romney, many Americans are indeed worried about poverty.
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