One might imagine that experts researching the “culture of poverty” would examine how marital collapse, eroded work ethic, and indifference to academic study contribute to financial poverty. Guess again.Read it all.
Instead, editors of The Annals firmly declare that the main cause of poverty is “material deprivation itself.” In other words, the cause of poverty is poverty: The cure for poverty is to artificially boost the incomes of the poor through welfare payments, free food, housing, medical care, and so on.
This is nothing new. Liberals always have insisted that poverty causes dysfunctional behaviors rather than vice versa. But, if having a low income caused problem behaviors (such as illegitimate births and eroded work ethic), then most Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries (whose incomes were far lower than those of today’s poor) should have been drowning in dysfunctional behaviors. Of course, they were not.
One of the goofier notions behind the War on Poverty is the idea that that those in the underclass behave differently than the middle class because they have less money — and, therefore, the way to improve behaviors is to give the poor more income. The U.S. already has “invested” over $15 trillion in anti-poverty spending based on this idea, and the problem has gotten markedly worse.
So, many times in politics, programs that originate with the "best of intentions" end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. Yet, many people are so ideologically committed to one way of thinking that they not only refuse to change, but keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help; and reinforce the stereotypes they are meant to end.
What makes matters worse is that the "champions of the poor and oppressed" (as they like to characterize themselves) then virtually demonize anyone who suggests an alternate strategy-- even when that strategy has been proven to work. We see this time and again in their attempts to portray the Republicans as the party that "hates the poor"; or that Republican or conservative policies reinforce racism, hunger, and deprivation. Take a look in your newspaper today and I'm sure you'll see an article asserting something very like this.
On the topic of poverty and its causes, the political left appears to be incapable of reasonable discussion without hurling around the accusations mentioned. And since this is an issue they do not under any circumstances want to discuss or debate, one could reasonably conclude that it serves some intense psychological need to think about poverty the way that they do.
Many people --both Democrats and Republicans-- genuinely want to end poverty. Many sincerely want to help the poor to have better lives. So, why not go with what works, instead of what doesn't and has never worked?
I have said it many times before, and I'll say it again: POVERTY HAS A CURE --but it is not in the psychologically devastating social programs that promote victimhood and encourage generation after generation of the poor to think of themselves as helpless and unable to advance because of the oppression of the "rich"; or because of racism or sexism etc. etc.
The cure is economic opportunity; the cure is MORE capitalism, not less. It is not to develop more "compassionate" and condescending social programs that artificially encourage "self-esteem" or promote helplessness and dependence.
Nor is the solution to continue to pour $$trillions into a"war on poverty" that has truly been in a quagmire since its inception.
Can we finally just admit that this so-called "war on poverty" -- a war that has been going on for decades--has been lost and that continuing the same old policies--or expanding them--simply do not work?? Not only have these programs become a perpetual quagmire, but they continue to truly victimize each new generation of the poor; especially blacks who compensate for this ongoing humiliation through the young black culture's "glorification of their devalued status" ( I think ShrinkWrapped once used this phrase)..
The entire war on poverty that maintains "material deprivation causes poverty"; and which refuses to look at the societal consequences of devaluing marriage and family; demonizing the wealthy and the entire work ethic; and glorifying dysfunction and victimhood, is doomed to fail generation after generation. Look at the deplorable behavior and caustic rhetoric directed against notable and successful black thinkers, for example; especially those who disagree with the political left. What you will see and hear is that, instead of 'curing' poverty, we have created an entire subculture that devalues education; and extols attitude, violence, and hypersexualized misogyny. Anyone who sucessfully escapes the pit of poverty and the left's propaganda and begins to think for themselves outside the leftist/progressive box automatically become gender or race "traitors".
Policymakers whose goal is fighting poverty need to pay attention to the link between economic freedom and prosperity. They need to empower poor families economically. They need to stop encouraging victimhood by their policies; and encourage personal responsibility that gives people a tangible stake in their own lives. If they do that, the psychological benefits will automatically follow.
Thomas Sowell once brilliantly wrote in a column:
People in the media, in academia and among the intelligentsia in general who are obsessed with "disparities" in income and wealth usually show not the slightest interest in how that income and wealth were produced in the first place.Read the entire essay. Sowell is absolutely correct. Poverty has a cure. But for the progressive and postmodern left to embrace that cure would require letting go their death-grip on an ideology whose economic redistribution plans have repeatedly been shown to be catastrophically ineffective and oppressive in the real world.
They are hot to redistribute the existing income and wealth but seem wholly unaware that how you do that today can affect how much income and wealth will be produced tomorrow. Any number of schemes for redistributing wealth have ended up redistributing poverty in a number of countries.
"Progressives" in the media and among academics and intellectuals claim to be interested in ending poverty but the production of more output is the only way to end poverty for millions of people.
It not only can be done, it has already been done in many countries, for all countries were once very poor by today's standards. But most self-styled "progressives" show virtually zero interest in economic history or in economics in general.
Redistributing wealth, the method of choice to 'cure' poverty which is constantly promoted by the political left, is a scam that progressive con artists have played for many decades now. What they actually do is redistribute poverty because the goal of the scam, as Sowell brilliantly notes, is to give themselves "sweeping powers to control other people's lives, in the name of curing the ills of society."
Underneath the caring, compassionate exterior that the holier than thou political left presents to the world is a con artist/tyrant whose primary desire is control over others.
UPDATE:Speaking of redistributing poverty... YES WE CAN!...raise the national debt $3trillion in 2 years.