Tag Archives: Poverty

Resolved: The Welfare State Should Be Abolished, by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The welfare state doesn’t eliminate poverty; it institutionalizes and perpetuates impoverishment. From Jeffrey A. Tucker at fee.org:

That the welfare state is for the purpose of helping the poor is one of the great fictions of our time.

I was honored to be the guest speaker of the Yale University Political Union last week, addressing the need to abolish the welfare state. The structure of the union breaks down students into “parties” based on political ideology. The guest speaks and then the students challenge. This is followed by minor speeches and challenges from students. The entire event lasts two hours, and the guest gets the final word.

A word on the students themselves: I was amazed at the erudition, decorum, and adult-like collegiality among them. It seems almost out of some movie I’ve seen, something set in the 1920s. I’m not entirely sure the students fully realize just how special they are. With a student body like this, I suspected that they learn more from engagement with each other than from their classes. Several students confirmed this. And, to be clear, this was true regardless of political outlook.

I, of course, was speaking on behalf of the pure free-market position on the welfare state, going further even than F.A. Hayek to say that the whole thing ought to be scrapped. There is nothing that the welfare state contributes to our lives that couldn’t be replaced by the normal operations of the market and civil society. In the end, I lost the debate, two to one, which is not a surprise, but I hope I planted plenty of seeds of doubt about the merit of the welfare state.

Command and Control

This whole topic is widely misunderstood. People think of the welfare state as a system of redistribution to help the poor improve their lot in life. Those who oppose it, we are told, are greedy advocates for the interests of the rich.

My contention is that this is just a story we tell ourselves that has nothing to do with the history and current reality of the welfare state. The welfare state is a system of command and control, imposed by the political elites, that targets politically marginalized groups in a way that, through both bad and good intentions, excludes them from participation in mainstream society.

To continue reading: Resolved: The Welfare State Should Be Abolished

He Said That? 5/4/17

From Mokokoma Mokhonoana, philosopher, social critic, graphic designer, satirist, and iconoclast:

It is as difficult for most poor people to truly believe that they could someday escape poverty as it is for most wealthy people to truly believe that their wealth could someday escape them.

He Said That? 9/12/16

From Victor Hugo (1802–1885), French poet, novelist, and dramatist, Les Misérables (1862):

There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.

Tent Cities Full Of Homeless People Are Booming In Cities All Over America As Poverty Spikes, by Michael Snyder

Increasing poverty is a defining characteristic of economic contractions, and it’s especially severe during a depression like the one we are undergoing. From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day. And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about. It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year. Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.

Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis. Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency. And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up…

There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.

Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.

“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”

But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this. The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia…

Camp Hope, Las Cruces, New Mexico [1]
Camp Quixote, Olympia, Washington State[2]
Camp Take Notice, Ann Arbor, Michigan[3]
Dignity Village, Portland, Oregon
Opportunity Village, Eugene, Oregon
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Tent City, Phoenix, Arizona
New Jack City and Little Tijuana, Fresno, California[2]
Nickelsville, located in Seattle[2][4]
Right 2 Dream Too, Portland, Oregon[5]
River Haven,[6] Ventura County, California[7][8]
Safe Ground, Sacramento, California[2]
The Jungle, San Jose, California[2]
Temporary Homeless Service Area (THSA), Ontario, California[2]
Tent City (100+ residents) of Lakewood, New Jersey[9][10]
Tent City, Avenue A and 13th Street, Lubbock, Texas[11]
Tent City, New Jersey forest[12]
Tent City, Bernalillo County, New Mexico[13]
Tent City, banks of the American River, Sacramento, California[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]
Tent City 3, Seattle
Tent City, Chicago, Illinois [1]
Tent City 4, eastern King County outside of Seattle
The Point, where the Gunnison River and Colorado River meet[23]
The Village of Hope and Community of Hope, Fresno, California[2]
Transition Park, Camden, New Jersey
Tent City, Fayette County, Tennessee, [2]
Camp Unity Eastside, Woodinville, WA [3]
China Hat Road, Bend, Oregon

Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area. For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana…

A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.

City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.

The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.

“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.

To continue reading: Tent Cities Full Of Homeless People Are Booming In Cities All Over America As Poverty Spikes

 

Let The Washington Cronies Pound Sand—-More Evidence From The Poverty Report That They Are Making It Worse, by Pater Tenebrarum

From Pater Tenebrarum, at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Poverty Not Dented

A friend sent us a link to an article at Marketwatch, which bemoans that in spite of an improved labor market, “poverty has been barely dented in the US”. Of course, people living in some third world hell-hole would be quite surprised what kind of incomes are considered to constitute poverty in the US, but from a developed world perspective these thresholds do seem to make sense to us:

“The U.S. poverty rate was unchanged at 14.8% in 2014, according to a release today from the Census Bureau. This was the fourth consecutive year that the poverty rate was not statistically different from the previous year.

The lack of change shows that the progress in the U.S. job market–in 2014 the economy added 2.6 million jobs, the most in more than a decade–have remained insufficient to lift the fortunes of the nearly 47 million people living in poverty.

The official definition of poverty varies depending on the size, age and composition of the family. For a couple with no children under age 65, the threshold for income below which they are considered in poverty is $15,853. For a couple with two children, the threshold is $24,008.

A near record number of people remain in poverty according to the official definition.

Our friend sent along the suggestion that perhaps this dichotomy between an improving labor market and a “sticky” poverty rate might be explained by

“…the fact that a majority of the new jobs created are in the “working poor” category”.

To this we replied in similar Twitteresque staccato style that

“…we could always ditch socialism and give the free market a chance. Might help.”

What isn’t going to help is whatever decision the central economic planning committee bestows upon us on Thursday, since it seems highly unlikely that it will announce its imminent disbandment.

To continue reading: They Are Making It Worse

12 Ways The Economy Is In Worse Shape Now Than During The Depths Of The Last Recession, by Michael Snyder

From Michael Snyder at theeconomicollapseblog.com:

Did you know that the percentage of children in the United States that are living in poverty is actually significantly higher than it was back in 2008? When I write about an “economic collapse”, most people think of a collapse of the financial markets. And without a doubt, one is coming very shortly, but let us not neglect the long-term economic collapse that is already happening all around us. In this article, I am going to share with you a bunch of charts and statistics that show that economic conditions are already substantially worse than they were during the last financial crisis in a whole bunch of different ways. Unfortunately, in our 48 hour news cycle world, a slow and steady decline does not produce many “sexy headlines”. Those of us that are news junkies (myself included) are always looking for things that will shock us. But if you stand back and take a broader view of things, what has been happening to the U.S. economy truly is quite shocking. The following are 12 ways that the U.S. economy is already in worse shape than it was during the depths of the last recession…

#1 Back in 2008, 18 percent of all Americans kids were living in poverty. This week, we learned that number has now risen to 22 percent…

There are nearly three million more children living in poverty today than during the recession, shocking new figures have revealed.

Nearly a quarter of youngsters in the US (22 percent) or around 16.1 million individuals, were classed as living below the poverty line in 2013.

This has soared from just 18 percent in 2008 – during the height of the economic crisis, the Casey Foundation’s 2015 Kids Count Data Book reported.

To continue reading: The Economy Is In Worse Shape Now

Not All Lives Matter, by Robert Gore

Let’s quickly dispose of one issue. From the standpoint of a just and moral legal system, all lives matter. Everyone has inalienable rights and it is one of government’s legitimate function to protect those rights. Consider that issue settled and by unanimous voice vote the motion carries: “All Lives Matter” belongs on bumper stickers, T-shirts, and all the other media that display the stream of high-sounding bromides with which we are endlessly bombarded.

Beyond the propositions of the universality of rights and their protection by proper government, many lives don’t matter at all. One of the more revolutionary, but least appreciated, aspects of the American Revolution was that it moved towards a society where the notion of merit was based not on status, but achievement. To quickly dispose of two other issues, “towards a society” implies that this state of affairs was imperfectly realized at that time. Obviously, the Constitution tolerated slavery, the disenfranchisement of women, and the marginalization of Native Americans. It is also duly noted that the United States has never fully realized the achievement-based notion of merit.

However, achievement quickly became the marker in America, much more so than it had ever been in Europe. There, one’s status was mostly a matter of heredity, The wealth of those at the highest rungs, be it in government, the churches, or universities was either donated or taken (hence Balzac’s observation: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”). Those who actually made the donated or stolen wealth were considered a lower caste.

From early days in America, entrepreneurs made fortunes through production and trade that even Europeans recognized as substantial. There were inherited fortunes, but status was not something one was born into or gained by virtue of privilege, rather it was achieved. The ethos was evident in the expressions that have gained currency: “make something of yourself,” self-made man,” “make a fortune” “go-getter.” The good things in life were not bestowed by outside agency, they were acquired through one’s own efforts. Not everyone would get rich, but the belief was that anyone who did not take responsibility for his life, who was unwilling to work and achieve, even among those born into wealth, was of no account.

In other words, it was up to each individual to make his or her own life “matter.” Was life fair? No more than it is now, but unfairness was an excuse, not a reason for failure. If you failed, you got back up and tried again. By the time you met your maker, you were supposed to be able to point to positive things you had done with your life—competence in your job, a well run business, the family you left behind, your contributions to your church and community—evidence that your life had mattered. It mattered because of what you had done for yourself and for the people who were important to you.

Positive accomplishment as a requirement for mattering in other people’s eyes, and most importantly your own—self-esteem rubs people with little or no accomplishments the wrong way. That group encompasses far more than just the drunk in the gutter or the beggar on the street. Any amateur psychologist can ascribe the nihilism exhibited by rampaging rioters to a lack of any positive accomplishment, and consequently a lack of any sense of self-worth, on the part of the rioters. The more interesting questions are how the rioters reached such a pitiable inner state, and is that inner state any different from that found among the legions in government, academia, foundations and other institutions who claim it is their mission to elevate the downtrodden?

Part of the rationale for New Deal jobs programs was that unlike a straight dole, it would preserve the self-respect of recipients, who would be doing something useful. Though some of the work may indeed have been useful, there is a fundamental difference between a private employer voluntary hiring a worker because the work done will be worth more to the employer than the wage paid, and a job bestowed by a government with no regard for its economic merit and funded by the involuntarily exacted taxes. You can fool some of the workers some of the time, but not all of them all the time; some of the new government employees understood the distinction. However, the New Deal was, in the US, the genesis of the idea that accomplishment and self-worth could be bestowed by the government

The acceptance of this idea was more important to those doing the bestowing than their putative beneficiaries. The beneficiaries had to blur in their minds the distinction between a job obtained as a voluntary exchange and a job obtained through the coercive ministrations of government, but fine distinctions don’t count for much if you’re destitute and hungry. The people on the other side of the coercive transaction, literally (or figuratively in the case of those providing intellectual support for the exercise), had to obliterate in their own minds the difference between voluntary charity and redistributing stolen property.

Altruism of the religious bent, which had powered much of the explosion of philanthropy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, set a bar: the giver had to give up something of his or her own. New Dealer redistributionists sneered at such efforts. The new and improved variation: force someone else to fund your programs, in the name of high-sounding ideals of uplift. While perhaps the beneficiaries could be excused for mental blurring, it was apparent from the beginning that their nominal benefactors (the real benefactors were the taxpayers) had ulterior and venal motives.

Obviously there was political power and riches to be gained in this sham. Vote buying of one stripe or another has become nonpartisan de rigueur for advancement in today’s politics, and Washington is now the nation’s wealthiest metropolitan area. More subtly, coerced redistribution has provided a fig leaf of not just morality, but positive accomplishment. A twenty-first century resumé can list Ivy League degrees, positions in Washington and Wall Street, perhaps a stint “giving back” in academia, the media, or foundations, numerous honors, and at the end, a funeral well-attended by luminaries. Yet, for many of these souls journeying to whatever the afterlife holds for them, there’s an essential emptiness.

Trading on one’s connections, image management, apple polishing, power politics, and other tawdry means of advancement are not positive accomplishments, like say, growing a garden or a business. They are negative, corrupting and destroying in ways that may be even more insidious than a descent into alcoholism, indolence, or depravity. No proclamation of one’s commitment to the downtrodden, manifested by one’s commitment to coerced redistribution, can reverse or ameliorate this fundamental corruption. The penance itself is corrupt.

So it wasn’t just the nihilism of the rioters that was on display in Baltimore. It was the nihilism of a philosophy that holds that citizens must look to the government, not their own efforts, for their lives to matter, and the nihilism of those who manipulate this creed for their own ends. After 80 years it is clear that wealth can be stolen and redistributed, but that the sources of wealth—initiative, hard work, innovation, productivity, and competitive acumen—cannot. Pretending that they can destroys the souls of both thieves and recipients, and has turned governance into at best, farce, but mostly tragedy: the mindless destruction of Baltimore and America’s other dying cities, and a dying economy. The governing elites, who never tire of congratulating themselves for their “compassion,” have done nothing but pave a road to hell for the victims of their compassion.

LIVES THAT MATTERED, A NOVEL THAT MATTERS

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