Fintan O’Toole: Pandemic has shown the real wonder drug is money

The lie that giving cash to poor people makes them lazy has been exposed by Covid

For people living in poverty, cash may be a much more effective mental health treatment than anything pharmacology has invented. Photograph: iStock

For people living in poverty, cash may be a much more effective mental health treatment than anything pharmacology has invented. Photograph: iStock

When did the biggest reduction in poverty in the history of the United States take place? During the New Deal era of the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt created huge government programmes to deal with the Great Depression? As a result of Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” in the mid-1960s?

No. By far the fastest and most dramatic cuts in poverty ever seen in the US have been in the past two years. The pandemic, for all its personal costs and economic disruptions, has been good for social justice.

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