D.C.'s Poverty Factory
by Jim Davies, 9/17/2010
It was reported on Thursday that the US poverty rate is higher now than at any time since the 1960s, when with much fanfare President Johnson announced the start of his "War on Poverty." I didn't see or hear any comment to the effect that since the war had manifestly failed it must be time to end it, and the absence of any such rational conclusion is devastating evidence that the Poverty Warriors are more interested in continuing the war than in winning it.
Eerie, isn't it, the parallel between that war and others like the ones in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? In the current shooting-wars also there is no victory in sight, yet all the government people and their media parrots can think of doing is - more of the same. Spending on welfare has brought negative benefit? - then let's spend more! There's a complete disconnect, a total failure rationally to diagnose the problem. Reason: the premise they use is that malady must be cured by government. That premise is dead wrong.
The ultimate result of continuing with such abject stupidity is that 100% of this society's product will be spent on government programs to reduce poverty so that 100% of it will be poor. Terminally poor, actually.
This miserable, half-century failure is a crystal-clear example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Possibly, there are some well-meaning people among the idiots who wage this war - folk who truly wish to reduce poverty. I suspect they are very few, and that the most passionate desire of most of them is to retain their jobs in the poverty factory. Either way, the proof is before us: government action does not reduce poverty, it increases it.
Why would this be? - it's not hard to understand. Government programs cost money, and money must come from people already producing goods and services that others wish to buy. The money taken away from them by force is no longer available to them to grow their businesses, hire more people. Every dollar stolen from productive people therefore creates poverty. It may then be spent on welfare intended to reduce poverty, but then one must subtract the cost of administering that transfer, along of course with the total loss of the productive contribution the welfare recipient might otherwise soon make. There's much more (welfare increases dependency, reduces the urgency of a person's search for productive occupation) but that alone suffices to prove the point: "imperfect" as it may be, the best real-world cure for poverty is for government to stand clear.
Or, as counselled in this Blog, to go out of business altogether.