Winterspeak over at Asymmetrical Information has some thoughtful comments on the New Yorker article about how much of poverty is perception, and what might be done about that.
As John Cassidy in "Relatively Deprived" has an idea that I think is guarranteed to make more people feel even poorer, I think I'll have a serious go at that in the near future. But for the moment, I have only smart-ass ideas on poverty and immigration -- both of which are better than what is usually proposed.
Completely separate from any other action we take on immigration, we should offer to anyone in the world who wants to come work here the chance to rent a green card at $10,000/year, payable in advance. They would still pay taxes, have to find housing, all that good self-sufficient stuff. This wouldn't be a replacement for current immigration, it would be in addition to it. Play out in your head what you think would start happening.
Perceptions of poverty. I like the idea of Friedman's negative income tax and all that, but I think we could get real bang for our buck by sending everyone on assistance on a one-week paid vacation to an actual poor country every year. Travel and hotel only; buy your own food and souveniers. It would be good for the economies of the poor countries. It would be good for the airlines (and Mexican bus companies). It would be good for the kids' educations. It would allow some current immigrants to revisit their homelands and remember why they came here. It would give folks a break from their drab lives.
And we would be giving the gift of reality.