After 50 Years, Washington Has Lost the War on Poverty


rita's picture

But the war on the poor is going well.

Log from Blammo's picture

Yes, rita, when we finally succeed in solving the problems of poverty by putting all poor people in prisons, we can start working on the larger problems... putting lower-middle-class people in slightly better prisons.

There is one root cause of poverty, and that is weak property protections. If a poor person could be assured that whatever they produce in excess of their immediate needs could be applied to their future needs, they would work as hard as they need to in order to support themselves indefinitely. It simply costs more to be poor, because there are fewer competing options open to you.

The scariest thing about homelessness is not the survival aspect. It is that you cannot keep anything larger than you can carry, and that anything of value can so easily be stolen from you. You cannot invest in capital, such as a nice change of clothing for business purposes, because you cannot expect to keep it. That risk persists in some measure all the way up to the point in the social hierarchy where you can afford to hire someone to defend your capital assets who answers to you first, and not someone else.

You may think that bank account is safe, but not from the IRS. You think you own your house? Better remember to pay rent to the taxing authority and mortgage interest. And don't do drugs in it, or the cops will take the whole thing with civil forfeiture. Stay clean, and they might get it by eminent domain anyway. But open that Cayman Islands account and establish that Irish corporation with a Dutch sandwich, and you might find that your assets stay under your control.

Ever increasing portions of the economy are diverting towards those who, rather than producing more wealth, are simply able to keep more of whatever they can get.

Just moving money around won't help. People have to believe that they can survive on their own power, and prosper with a modicum of additional effort. And that means lowering the barriers to entry for small, independent, low-capital businesses. That means allowing people to do things like selling each other prepared foods without business permits, licenses, reporting requirements, and regulatory inspections. Even if Abuela's tamales give people food poisoning on a regular basis, that costs far less in the long run than an environment that is persistently hostile to self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship.

tesla921's picture

"There is one root cause of poverty, and that is weak property protections."

I disagree. Production is what cures poverty. Poverty is simply a state of "little stuff".

Production produces stuff. Therefore, the more stuff the less poverty.

I agree that the more stuff you have the more you will need to protect your stuff. But, production is the cure for poverty.