Put simply, government attempts to eliminate poverty have failed. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in September of last year that the 2014 poverty rate was 14.8 percent. This means that, since 2007, poverty in the United States increased by 2.3 points. With 46.7 million people still impoverished in 2014, after billions of dollars have been devoted to solving the problem since the 1960s, we have to question whether the federal government’s solution to solving this social problem is the right one.
However, I do not seek to just condemn government involvement in alleviating poverty altogether. In fact, I seek to do the opposite, and show an exception to the rule of big government’s failure. That exception is H.R. 5046, which seeks to enable communities to attack the opioid epidemic.
Many congressional representatives already have given H.R. 5046 their support, but more members of the political Right ought to support the House’s legislation, which targets a range of opium-derived drugs including heroin.
This proposition might come off as hypocritical or ironic, especially considering the Right’s normal crusade against government spending and involvement in social matters. Conservatives and Libertarians have strict concerns regarding government spending and regulation–particularly with the federal government’s role in solving social issues–and with good reason.
But H.R. 5046 is a rare case in which government spending and involvement can actually and effectually contribute to solving a problem most everybody agrees we have. The CDC reports that 78 people die everyday from opioid overdoses, a number that has been increasing for 15 years. These statistics, along with the testimonies of those people who have been affected by addiction, show just how pressing the issue is.
Though H.R. 5046 is a federal government initiative, it has a uniquely local and community-driven focus. It intends to use federal grants to support local governments and local non-profits, including faith-based organizations, to tackle the problem. Conservatives have always suggested that social problems of this sort are best attacked at the community level, rather than the corporate or federal level, and this bill has the potential to enable communities to lead the way.
The bill passed the House last Thursday, and received overwhelming support from both parties. It needs continued support from the nation as a whole. If the Zika virus is a public health crisis that ought to be addressed by Congress, then so is this.