Michael Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Capital and professor of the Practice of Finance at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Graduate School of Business, wrote this interesting piece in the N&O criticizing Gene Nichol's approach to addressing poverty. Here are some samples from the article:
If the goal of the poverty center is, in fact, to improve the condition of low-income residents of our state, an approach focused on generating more light than heat no doubt would better serve the poor.
Many on the left define “poverty issues” too narrowly. For example, it seems that the expense of heating a poor person’s home would be a poverty issue. But where is the study from a left-leaning think tank that evaluates the effect of the shale gas revolution on the cost of heating homes of low-income residents? In fact, every policy that affects our subsistence level is a poverty issue.
The deterioration of the family unit affects poor people profoundly. It would be invaluable to have a left-leaning poverty think tank tackle the question of how jobs and welfare affect the family unit respectively. Most people agree that jobs that provide a living wage are the most sustainable way to lift someone from poverty. Perhaps a poverty think tank could rate all policies, liberal and conservative, on the effect they have on job creation.
Jacobs is largely spot on with his critique of Nichol. If Nichol truly cared about improving the quality of life and opportunity for North Carolina's poorest, he should first learn basic economics and gain an understanding of what makes an economy grow. Instead of constantly urging for an expansion of the welfare state to empower the political class and create destructive poverty traps, perhaps Nichol would gain a better understanding about the crucial role of capital accumulation – fueled by savings – in economic growth.
Sadly, though, Nichol's partisan blinders keep him obsessed with politics rather than allowing him to demonstrate genuine concern for the poor.