Oct 17, 2019

Letter to the Editor: What happened to Fresno? The solution to poverty starts locally

By John A. Jensen, founder FixTheNation.com

I was born in Fresno, went to California State University, Fresno and moved to New York. And 25 years later, I am writing a book about poverty in America. And stunningly, Fresno is a “poster child” example for poverty in the U.S. So what happened?

Fresno has consistent weather and affordable labor, access to major highways and rails, tons of land and agricultural success and has a great university. So how this happened is beyond my comprehension.

Was it California’s high taxes? Was it the drought? Was it simply time passing it by? Was it lack of leadership or failure to act? What caused this decay?

Are the leaders for tomorrow attending Fresno State today? Are they thinking and creating solutions? Are they concerned about what Fresno has become? Or are they too busy being self-absorbed to notice or care?

There are too many questions and not enough answers. But let’s start with this – someone needs to draw the line in the sand and resolve to fix poverty. It isn’t access to wealth, unless the San Joaquin Valley has changed tremendously since I moved. It takes leadership, then putting a plan together and following it.

Poverty typically has three main drivers – lack of full-time employment in the household, lack of a high school diploma and single-parent child-rearing. Any plan crafted needs to address these pillars or, said differently, shatter them. It takes people who care to lead relentlessly and a comprehensive plan to work out of this insanity.

As I sit here about 3,000 miles away from Fresno, it isn’t my fight directly. It’s yours, so own it completely.

The real test isn’t about money or government solutions – it concerns the heart of the people to step up, say enough is enough and lead the fight to end poverty in Fresno.

Doesn’t humanity demand it?

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