Breaking Down the Barriers: Three Ways State and Local Governments Can Improve the Lives of the Poor
This study considers the ways in which government, whether through spending programs or regulations, has made it more difficult for people to find their way out of poverty. It argues that when considering new regulations or eliminating existing ones, policymakers should pay more attention to the regressive effects of government, from the way in which it prevents upward mobility to the way in which some policies and programs burden the poor more than other groups. Specifically, it explores the regressive effects of occupational licensure, zoning laws, and other restrictions on operating businesses, as well as the effects of sin taxes. The discussion of occupational licensure includes a small case study of Uber, the ride-sharing platform. If government policy is restricting upward mobility, then policymakers should look more seriously at ways to stop government from harming those seeking to escape poverty.