Friday, December 13, 2013

The "Relative Poverty Gimmick" Revisited

In a post I wrote about five and a half years ago, The "Relative" Poverty Gimmick, I said:

"Poverty, then, is not a problem that is intended to be “solved”. What the “poor” represent today is not actual poverty, in the historical context, but a means to electoral advancement for phony, power-seeking politicians like John Edwards. They are merely window dressing for the advancement of statism. This is why the definition of poverty keeps changing. Some day, poverty will mean having the smallest yacht. Just as President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” didn't “work”, So John Edwards’s “Two Americas” anti-poverty scheme won’t “work”. It is not intended to “work”.

"So remember where your tax dollars are going. Most likely, they are not going to a starving child. Even if they were, it would be immoral. Tax-funded “charity”, like tax–funded religion, is a violation of individual rights.

"No, your tax dollars are very likely going to someone with a car, air conditioning, a color TV, and quite possibly a house. In other words, to someone just like you, except that you worked for his car, air conditioning, color TV, and quite possibly his house."

In a recent article, America's First world Underclass: Mistaking Inequality for PovertyBarry Fagin, a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, amplifies my argument. He writes:

The poverty problem in America has been solved. If you want to talk about poverty of the spirit, inequality of wealth, inequality of opportunity, or inequality of happiness, fine. But “poverty,” in the sense of not having the basic material needs for life, just isn’t much of an issue in America any more.

Considering how deeply embedded the alleged plight of the poverty-stricken is in today's politics, my essay and Fagin's essay are good resources to bring some perspective to the debate about what "we"—i.e., the government—should do about it, if anything. It's always good to have the practical argument to back up the all-important moral argument against redistributionist injustice.

Related Reading:

From Middle Class to Welfare Class

"More Prosperity" or "Shared Sacrifice?"

Memo to Justice Sotomayor: Welfare Statism Threatens Children's Welfare

Why Capitalism Needs a Moral Sanction

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