Beyond the Cusp

January 16, 2007

War on Poverty, A Quagmire

Filed under: Uncategorized — qwertster @ 3:00 AM

Of all the long-range goals of a government program, the end of poverty has to be the most impossible. Of course that would depend on your definition of poverty. By the definition of poverty over most of our planet there is little to no true poverty currently in the United States. Yet despite this we continue to fund and attempt a war on American poverty. Even after an estimated seven trillion dollars spent since the late 1960’s we are told we have more poverty today than we had then. How is this degree of failure come to pass? This is the fundamental question that seems to defy answers from within our government. Perhaps they have overlooked some fundamental problems inherent in the approach that affect the results.

So, why is it after so much treasure has been spent on defeating poverty, why does poverty persist? Perhaps we should first define exactly what is poverty, and conversely, what is wealth. We define poverty as those whose income falls in the lowest 20% of the income scale and the wealthy as those falling in the highest 20%. This leaves the middle 60% who are lumped together as the middle class inside whom we have three groups, the lower middle class, the upscale middle class and the much-maligned true middle class. With these understandings we can move forward and see where our War on Poverty went off-track.

Obviously to effectively defeat poverty we must move the lowest 20% of wage earners into a higher bracket. Accomplishing this would seem to be an easy task to accomplish. We would simply have to do as the Federal Government set out to do, namely to bring the incomes of the poor, the lowest 20%, above the lowest 20% into a higher bracket. Let us assume that we did this, what would be the end result? Our poor would no longer be poor, they would be middle class and poverty would be eliminated. But now we would have moved a different group of people into the position of the lower 20%, the new poor we could call them. Well, we can solve this new group of citizens who are now considered impoverished. We already removed the last group of impoverished, we need only repeat this success. How many times would we have to repeat this cycle? It would be like the instructions on shampoo, lather, rinse, repeat as needed. No matter how many times we raised the incomes through subsidies or other programs all we would accomplish is shifting the citizens who occupy the lowest 20% level, thus considered impoverished.

Now that we have seen the conundrum, how do we solve this dilemma? Obviously a country as wealthy and powerful as the United States can defeat and solve a simple problem as poverty. Obviously we cannot remove the lowest 20% class of wage earners, we can only shift around those who occupy this position. And what is the cost? The cost is usurping wealth from the upper 60% to basically give to the lowest 20%. Well, we could continue on this path and eventually all we would accomplish is unending inflation and class-to-class resentment. Eventually the continued repeating of this procedure would lead to only one conclusion. Since eventually we would end up at the place where between taxes and subsidies we would establish what we could call the living wage, or we could call it the government set income. The end result and only way to remove poverty is to remove wealth and guarantee that all citizens income was equal. All those who earned over this wage would be taxed back to the set level and all earning less would be given funding to bring them up to this predetermined level.

Perhaps this was seen from the beginning of the establishing of this so-called War on Poverty. Perhaps equal outcome independent of income was the true aim of these policies. What would be the result of such a set of policies? We have seen, to some extent, the result of attempting to equalize all incomes in the decline of European economies as they are farther down this path than the United States. Instigating such policies leads to removing the incentive to be productive and thus lowering productivity throughout society. Once incentive has been removed, then progress stops and stagnation overcomes the economy. Once the economy is no longer supported all wealth begins to dissipate. This eventually leads to the necessity of lowering the set wage level as less wealth is generated. Finally we would end up with an entire population of people in poverty, as this idea is not sustainable. Only through the promise of success and reward for such success do we produce wealth. Inherently this leads to income disparities, which produces wealthy, and poverty. As unfortunate as it may be, this is a fact of a market driven and individuality driven economy. Take this away and you have no incentive, no progress, and soon no treasury.

We should modify our aims for this eventually insufferable War on Poverty to merely allow for only attempting to provide that all are fed, clothed, and housed. Beyond providing a basic level of sustenance lays the pitfall of economic disaster and the death of America. We can no longer fall for the rhetoric of class warfare and instead find ways to work towards progress that raises the wealth of the population as a whole that will affect everybody with positive results.

Beyond the Cusp

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