Tag Archives: Poverty

War on Poverty, or Just War on the Poor? By Claudio Grass

Covid-19 lockdowns are decimating the poor. From Claudio Grass at lewrockwell.com:

As the dust is now begging to settle, both from the heights of the COVID panic and from the riots that shook the western world, we are starting to get an idea about where we stand after this unprecedented and tumultuous time. We are able to begin taking stock of the damage that was inflicted by the lockdowns and to evaluate the governmental efforts to help those affected and to provide support to the economy. More interestingly, we are finally in a position to see clearly who amongst us paid the highest price, who suffered the most and whose livelihood was taken away.

This picture is especially clear in the US, where the numbers speak for themselves. One look at the unemployment figures as seen in the chart below is enough to demonstrate the extent of the damage of the economic shutdown. However, a more detailed examination of the data reveals a lot more. It shows the sharp inequality in those lost jobs. Low- and minimum wage employees, seasonal, part-time and low-skill workers, were fired from their jobs at an astoundingly higher rate than their white-collar and better-paid peers. It makes sense, of course. Not only could these jobs be performed from home more easily, but these employees were also largely less replaceable. Being by and large more educated, more experienced and more skilled, there were seen as more “essential”, to use the government’s own terminology. Of course, all jobs are essential for those who need them to survive, but then again that argument never managed to gain any traction when bureaucrats were deciding who gets to keep their job and whose source of income is simply surplus to requirements.

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Some Facts Worth Knowing, by Walter E. Williams

Being “poor” in America isn’t what the rest of the world considers poor. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

Imagine that you are an unborn spirit in heaven. God condemns you to a life of poverty but will permit you to choose the country in which you will spend your life. Which country would you choose? I would choose the United States of America.

A recent study by Just Facts, an excellent source of factual information, shows that after accounting for income, charity and noncash welfare benefits such as subsidized health care, housing, food stamps and other assistance programs, “the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in the world’s most affluent countries.” This includes the majority of countries that are members of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, including its European members. The Just Facts study concludes that if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, then it would be one of the world’s richest.

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How the Nanny State Feasts on the Poor, by Mark Nestmann

Government does its best to keep the poor poor. From Mark Nestmann at nestmann.com:

Should you have to pay thousands of dollars before you can legally work? Or be imprisoned because you don’t have the money to pay a fine?

Economic liberty – the right to support yourself without needless government interference – is a bedrock principle of what was once called the “American Dream.” And debtor’s prisons were supposedly abolished in a federal lawCongress passed in 1833.

But if you’re poor, economic liberty can seem more illusory than real. A case in point is the war many states are fighting against natural hair braiding – a beauty practice popular with African-American women. This type of braiding doesn’t require dyes, coloring agents or any chemicals at all. It’s much safer than bleaching hair or giving manicures.

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The End Of Money, by Chris Martenson

There are far more claims on wealth and production than there are wealth and production to service them. From Chris Martenson at peakprosperity.com:

Prepare for the coming wealth transfer

Today we live in a two-faced economy: it is boom times for some and bust times for others.

Your personal situation depends largely on how close you fall on the socioeconomic spectrum to the protected elite class, towards which the central banks are directing their money-printing firehoses.

Why should we care about this bifurcation? History.

2,000 years ago, in Plutarch’s time, it was already ‘old wisdom’ that unhealthy wealth imbalances ended badly for society:

Plutarch quote

Even those near the top of the wealth pyramid don’t aspire to live surrounded by an impoverished underclass, forced to live hiding behind their fortifications and guards, hoping the unrest of the masses doesn’t get any worse.

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Greta Thunberg To Poor Countries: Drop Dead, by Ryan McMaken

Greta Thunberg is no humanitarian. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

On Monday, celebrity climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech to the UN Climate Action summit in New York. Thunberg demanded drastic cuts in carbon emissions of more than 50 percent over the next ten years.

It is unclear to whom exactly she was directing her comments, although she also filed a legal complaint with the UN on Monday, demanding five countries (namely Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey) more swiftly adopt larger cuts in carbon emissions. The complaint is legally based on a 1989 agreement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which Thunberg claims the human rights of children are being violated by too-high carbon emissions in the named countries.

Thunberg seems unaware, however, that in poor and developing countries, carbon emissions are more a lifeline to children than they are a threat.

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What’s Most Important? by Walter E. Williams

When politicians talk about law and order, it’s often said that its code for a racist, anti-black agenda. Yet black people in inner-city ghettoes are the most hurt by crime. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

Let’s think about priorities. Say that you live in one of the dangerous high crime and poor schooling neighborhoods of cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit or St. Louis. Which is most important to you: doing something about public safety and raising the quality of education or, as most black politicians do, focusing energies upon President Donald Trump and who among the 20 presidential contenders will lead the Democratic Party? The average American has no inkling about the horrible conditions in which many blacks live. Moreover, they wouldn’t begin to tolerate living under those conditions themselves.

In Chicago, one person is shot every four hours and murdered every 18 hours. Similar crime statistics can be found in many predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis and many other large cities. It’s not just an issue of public safety, for high crime has other devastating consequences.

Crime lowers the value of property. We can see some of this when housing prices skyrocket in formerly high crime areas when large numbers of middle- and upper-income people purchase formerly run-down properties and fix them up. This is called gentrification — wealthier, predominantly white, people move in to renovate and restore slum housing in inner cities, causing higher rental prices and forcing low-income residents out. Also, as a result of gentrification, crime falls and neighborhood amenities increase.

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Frankly my dear, by Ol’ Remus

What if many of us simply don’t care, pro or con, about the many grievances of the aggrieved? From Ol’ Remus at woodpilereport.com:

A few years ago I wrote a guest article entitled “Frankly my dear” for Francis Porretto’s indispensable Liberty’s Torch. As long-time readers are aware, I knew the segregated South first hand and spoke against it when it was neither popular nor completely safe. Alas, in the years that followed I learned a hard lesson, to wit: there’s nothing quite like being played and betrayed to see things as they really are. Although this essay continues to have some small level of currency, some readers may not have seen it, so I’ll repost it here.

Frankly my dear

With all the recent troubles we’re again being invited to an honest and open conversation about race, or said differently, the browbeatings will be resumed. Try this for honest and open: many of us, probably most of us, are tired of your whining, your so-called grievances, your violence and crime, your insults and threats, your witless blather and pornographic demeanor—all of it.

You’re not quite 13% of the population yet everything has to be about you, all day, every day. With you, facts aren’t facts, everything’s a kozmik krisis, and abusive confrontations are your go-to. Continue reading

The UN Fraudulently Addresses “Extreme Poverty” in the United States, by Francis Menton

SLL disagrees with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s positions on many issues, but not this one. From Francis Menton at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • You may be aware that the UN actually has an official definition of “extreme poverty,” which is “liv[ing]… on less than $1.90 per person per day.” $1.90 per day would come to just under $700 per year.
  • An April 2018 study by John Early for the Cato Institute found that counting the $1.2 trillion of annual redistributions toward the income of the recipients — a sum often misleadingly excluded from poverty statistics — reduces the official poverty level in the U.S. from 12.7% all the way down to about 2%. And the remaining 2% would be people who for some reason had not sought out the benefits.
  • In other words, the U.S. distributes to its low-income residents resources beyond their income equal to an additional 40 times per person the amount officially deemed by the UN to constitute “extreme poverty.”

Is the United Nations a group of people of good faith, joining together in the effort to help bring peace and justice and economic development to the world? Or is it a group of haters of freedom and capitalism engaged primarily in spewing ignorance, malice or both toward the United States? For a clue, you might take a look at the “Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America,” recently issued by the UN’s so-called Human Rights Council.

Yes, this is the same Human Rights Council from which the U.S. just announced its withdrawal. It is also the same Human Rights Council that includes among its members China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela — with ambassadors who think that the best use of their time and resources is to criticize the economic and human rights record of the U.S.

The UN’s Report grew out of a two-week (December 1-15, 2017) “visit” to the United States by an Englishman, Philip Alston, designated the “Special Rapporteur.” After its issuance in May, the Report drew more attention than it might have otherwise because on June 12 it brought forth a letter to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley from a collection of Members of Congress, led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, expressing supposed “deep concern” about the findings. This letter in turn provoked a sharp rebuke from Haley on June 21.

To continue reading: The UN Fraudulently Addresses “Extreme Poverty” in the United States

Why California Has the Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate, by Ryan McMaken

One thing governments are good at producing is poverty, and California has lots of government. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Earlier this week, the LA Times reminded its readers that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.

Specifically, when using the Census Bureau’s most recent” Supplemental Poverty Measure” (SPM), California clocks in with a poverty rate of 20 percent, which places it as worst in the nation.

To be sure, California is running quite closely with Florida and Louisiana, but we can certainly say that California is a top contender when it comes to poverty:

supplemental.png

This continues to be something of a black eye for California politicians who imagine themselves to be the enlightened elite of North America. The fact that one in five Californians is below this poverty line doesn’t exactly lend itself to crowing about the state’s success in its various wars on poverty.

Many conservative sites have seized on the information to say “I told you so” and claim this shows that “blue-state” policies fail. One should be careful with this, of course, since there are plenty of red states in the top ten as well. Moreover, some blue states, like Massachusetts, are doing moderately well by this measure:

supp_poverty.PNG

In the realm of political punditry,  though, it matters a great deal whether one is using the regular poverty measure, or the SPM. For one, in the regular poverty measure, California ranks better than Texas, and leftists love to use the standard poverty rate to talk about how truly awful Texas and other red states are. The Supplemental Poverty Measure allows Texans to talk about how awful California is.

If we’re going to use census data to guess the prevalence of low-income households, though, the SPM is greatly superior to the old poverty rate. There’s a reason, after all, that the Census Bureau developed it, and the Bureau has long warned that poverty rates using the old measure don’t make for good comparisons across state lines.

The old poverty measure was a far more crude measure that did not take local costs into account, did not include poverty-assistance income, and basically ignored what can be immense differences in the cost of living in different locations. Many commentators often love to note how the median household income in many red states are below the national average — but then conveniently ignore how low the cost of living is in those places.

To continue reading: Why California Has the Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate

The Virtuous Poor in America, by xrugger

The money sentence: “The majority of the American underclass are neither virtuous nor (by any rational standard of true poverty) are they poor.” From xrugger at theburningplatform.com:

I’ve read a few things recently that might lead one to believe that the poor in America are held down solely by the machinations of the rich and connected. There seems to be a sentiment out there that the poor are simply not responsible for the state in which they find themselves and that one day they will rise up and throw off the shackles that bind them in poverty and want. Everything has been done to them; therefore, we are obligated to do everything for them. As will be obvious shortly, I disagree.

Do not put your hope for change in the poor and downtrodden of this country. Your faith in the supposed virtuous poor is badly misplaced. The majority of the American underclass are neither virtuous nor (by any rational standard of true poverty) are they poor. This is not a statement meant to absolve the wealthy and powerful of their sins in that they have done much to degrade and destroy the “disadvantaged” of this nation. They will have their own millstone to deal with. Having said that, let’s chat a little bit about the true state of the American underclass.

First, let’s dispel the notion that the American poor are truly poor. Oh sure, by the standards of the poor in other western industrial nations, the American version may indeed be worse in some ways than, say, the German poor, or the British poor, or the Australian poor. However, when you bring the grinding poverty of Africa, India, or rural China into the calculation, then what it means to be poor in America becomes discernable in its proper context.

If you have central heat and air conditioning in your subsidized housing, or even in the homeless shelter for that matter, then you are far better off than sub-Saharan Africans who burn buffalo dung for heat. If you cook your subsidized meals on an electric or gas stove under an electric light, then you and yours exist at a level of comfort unknown to huge numbers of the truly destitute. If you have the luxury of indoor plumbing, then you have far exceeded the standards of the rural poor in India where the majority of the population still defecate in the open.

To continue reading: The Virtuous Poor in America