We do try to do those things through compulsory education. But the many effects of poverty combine for a pretty formidable opposing force. And it's not just 'poverty' per se, but inequality. We will always have inequality and in and of itself, it's not bad or good, but when inequality grows, it puts more downward pressure on those in subordinate economic positions while often strengthening or consolidating wealth for those in economically predominant positions. It makes it harder to even just sustain a modest middle class. But one of your criticisms--free scholarships--makes sense, no? While there's no one way to economic success, a university education has certainly helped move some from poverty into the middle or even upper classes. College/Universities don't just educate but open up networks and opportunities that were not there before. Those who have means can afford to put off going straight to work out of high school in order to go to college to help establish a better future for themselves and their families. It is unrealistic for many if not most of those who are poor (a sizable percentage of which are children, elderly, or disabled) so we have to, to a large extent, deal with the social and economic conditions as they exist now.