Project on Poverty and Inequality in California

Grant Details

Organization: Cato Institute
Country: United States
Project Name: Project on Poverty and Inequality in California


Funding Areas

Private Sector Solutions ✓
System Change ✓
Empowerment of Individuals ✓
Teaching Freedom ✓

For decades, America has waged a failed war on poverty that relies on government paternalism and counterproductive welfare policies. California has proved an especially extreme example as they boast a dismal record of failed government redistribution. Many have failed to move up the economic ladder and out of poverty due to the myriad of rules and restrictions that disproportionately effect California’s poorest. Cato Institute, a leading free-market think tank, has successfully engaged in decades of research demonstrating how government programs and regulations trap individuals and families in poverty.

More recently, Cato has realized that to truly change outcomes for the poor, ideas must move beyond research and be placed in action. To this end, they launched the Project on Poverty and Inequality in California. This initiative seeks to engage Californians in practical ideas to reduce government-imposed inequality and empower the poor to better their own lives rather than rely on paternalistic programs.

This project targets diverse audiences who have not or might not otherwise encounter libertarian solutions to poverty. This includes grassroots leaders, advocates, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and the public through a public awareness campaign, one-on-one meetings, major conferences and convenings, a digital video campaign, and a dedicated web platform. The project focuses on five target areas: (1) housing and homelessness; (2) regressive regulation; (3) criminal justice; (4) education; and (5) financial inclusion.


Contribution to enhancing freedom

California has one of the highest concentrations of poverty and homelessness in the United States while also embracing the redistribution of wealth and top-down government programs more than almost any other state. This has left many advocates, grassroots leaders, and government representatives looking for answers. Cato works to influence public and elite opinion towards more market-oriented solutions that recognize the freedom and dignity of the individual.

The project advances market-oriented reforms in sectors that have traditionally been dominated by government intervention and philanthropic forces that do not recognize the dignity of each individual—treating those on the margins as objects of charity rather than as subjects. The public is educated on how regulations and other government burdens are contributing to the inequities they seek to remove. Read more about this project here 

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