The Poverty Line

It is fashionable to say that society must solve the problem of poverty.  But how? Redistribution of income, voluntary or coerced, is never the solution.  

LBJ’s War on Poverty proved that government interference only serves to prolong and intensify the problem. Instead of bringing people out of poverty, government programs have reduced the incentives to work or save or get an education or get married, or act responsible when it comes to sex.

Licensing laws, zoning regulations, minimum wage laws and many other restrictions only serve to raise the cost of being in poverty and make it much more difficult for the poor to enter the labor market or start their own business.  The Federal Reserve destroyed the value of the dollar harming those with the least amount while subsidizing big banks and even bigger corporations.  Governments used “eminent domain” laws to force people out of their homes and businesses in favor or rich land developers and politically connected industries. 

Larger programs like Medicare and Medicaid also show the harmful effects of government intervention.  Despite being implemented with the best of intentions, the cost of medical care has skyrocketed while the level of access has either remained stagnant or fallen.  Sectors of the economy that have far less government intervention and regulation have the exact opposite result as the free market drives down prices and increases quality. 

In fact, Economists have again and again been forced to point out that nearly every popular remedy government offers or legislates, i.e. guaranteed income, the negative income tax, minimum wage laws, laws to increase power for unions, opposition to labor-saving machinery, promotion of “spread-the-work” schemes, special subsidies, increased government spending, increased taxation, graduated income taxes, punitive taxes on capital gains, inheritances and corporations, and outright socialism has not and never will solve poverty. 

In the United States, poverty is more of a perception than it is a reality.   If my neighbor drives a Mercedes and I drive a 20 year old clunker, does that mean I’m living in poverty?  To my neighbors it might but it could also mean that I choose not to waste my money on a fancy car or I choose not to go in debt to impress my neighbors.  Just because some people have more than others does not  mean the others are living in poverty.   

The overwhelming majority of the government’s so-called “poverty” households have air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, a game system for their children, full kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, a microwave, smart phones, IPads, computers and printers,  Wi-Fi, ceiling fans, coffee makers,  etc.    

This may come as a shock to you but 42% of those counted by our government as poor own their own 1,400 sq. ft. house with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a garage which is more housing space than the average person living in Europe has.   

There is also no evidence of malnutrition in America.  Nutrient density does not vary by income class.  Nutrient intake for well-off preschoolers is the same as that among poor preschoolers.

While the average poor family does not represent every poor family,  the left’s  exaggeration and misinformation about poverty in America obscures the nature, extent and the cause of real material deprivation hampering the development of effective programs to reduce the problem for those in real need.

The U.S. government defines poverty based on standards that compares what you have to what your neighbor has.  People are not poor because they are starving or homeless, but because they don’t have the same things other members of society have.  In essence, our government’s concept of poverty is based on social and economic justice – a system of envy and greed.

The poor deserve our love and support. But, in order to alleviate poverty, one must begin with a true picture, and what we have been given to believe is to a large extent fake science.

“In comparative terms, there’s no poverty in America by a long shot. Heritage Foundation political scientist Robert Rector has worked up figures showing that when the official U.S. measure of poverty was developed in 1963, a poor American family had an income twenty-nine times greater than the average per capita income in the rest of the world. An individual American could make more money than 93% of the other people on the planet and still be considered poor.”  P. J. O’Rourke

Source:  How the Government Has Caused Poverty by  Robert Taylor; Why We Can’t End Poverty In America: It’s The Ignorance, by Tim Worstall; Poverty Is Not What You Think It Is, by Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine

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