Libertarian Views

by Greg Davies

You Can’t Cure Poverty by Giving Money to Poor People

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Lyndon B. Johnson’s greatest ambition as U.S. president was his “Great Society” program, a massive expansion in federal welfare centered on the idea that the government has an obligation to correct society’s ills. As part of his welfare plans, Johnson pushed congress into creating the Economic Opportunity Act, part of a major attack on the nation’s poverty. Since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the “War on Poverty” legislation into existence, the government has spent trillions of dollars on the elimination of poverty, and through their efforts poverty in the United States has been statistically eliminated.

A quick internet search will reveal that the government spends enough on eliminating poverty to give all the poor people in the U.S. enough money that they will no longer be under the poverty level. Therefore, the United States does not have any poverty. This does not even account for the private charity that goes into ending the problem of poverty. However, it is clear that despite all this spending, poverty has not been eliminated from this country. The baffling, unpleasant truth that social welfare tends to avoid is that poverty cannot be eliminated by spending money on it.

As the types of people who support social charity enjoy pointing out, the U.S. has more than enough wealth for every citizen (and quite a few non-citizens) to live comfortably. In a society such as this, the most obvious reason for people to not be well off is an improper distribution of wealth.

Blaming the rich is an obvious thing to do in this case, as they clearly have a larger share of money than they deserve. However, the reason those people became rich is because of people like us buying things from them, and it’s difficult to criticize people for having too much money while we give them more.

It is also possible to blame the poor themselves for being lazy and unproductive. However, blaming someone for his own predicament is a very heartless thing to do, and anyone could produce a picture of some helpless impoverished child and make you look like a complete jerk.

That’s why the easy way out of this whole situation is to blame the government. The government creates an atmosphere of entitlement that makes it easy to stay poor, while supporting those who already have money in order to make it difficult to stop being poor. Laws such as minimum wage make it illegal for people to accept low-paying jobs, while government housing projects tear down perfectly good low-income housing in order to create nearly inhospitable living areas. The result of government aid is to bolster a perpetual American underclass, able to survive in poverty but unable to escape it.

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Written by Greg Davies

September 22nd, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Posted in General

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