As we have just seen, political philosophers hold various views about what role the government should take in altering the distribution of income. Political debate among the larger population of voters reflects a similar disagreement. Despite these continuing debates, most people believe that, at the very least, the government should try to help those most in need. According to a popular metaphor, the government should provide a “safety net” to prevent any citizen from falling too far. Poverty is one of the most difficult problems that policymakers face. Poor families are more likely than the overall population to experience homelessness, drug dependence, health problems, teenage pregnancy illiteracy, unemployment, and low educational attainment. Members of poor families are both more likely to commit crimes and more likely to be victims of crimes, At though it is hard to separate the causes of poverty from the effects, there is no doubt that poverty is associated’ with various economic and social ills. Suppose that you were a policymaker in the government, and your goal was to reduce the number of people living in poverty. How would you achieve this goal? Here we examine some of the policy options
that you might consider. Although each of these options helps some people escape poverty, none of them is perfect, and deciding which is best is not easy.

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