Monday, March 3, 2014

A Brief Thought on Poverty


NOTE: I am reproducing a few articles which I either found cited in the recent articles I reposted, but which I was surprised to find had not yet been reproduced here, or which I came across while looking for such articles and decided was worth reprinting.

I have written on this topic before, but thought about it again and could not resist a brief comment.

Poverty is, ostensibly, a lack of money. Of course, in the US today, poverty is not a lack of money, but simply having less money than one's fellows. In other words, our problem is not poverty but relative poverty.

In evidence, I offer one proof I have not previously put forward. Historically, and worldwide, the health problems most common to the poor are starvation and infectious disease. And that makes sense, if you have no money, you cannot eat, and you cannot see doctors. What you find to eat is often garbage or spoiled food, and thus a disease risk, and the shelter you can find, when you have any, is substandard, and thus tends to favor diseases, with overcrowding also favoring infection.

In the US, what are the diseases from which our supposed poor suffer? Obesity. Drug abuse. Alcoholism. The effects of smoking. All of these are unusual from a historical perspective as all involve the expenditure of money. The poor historically and in most nations cannot afford to suffer from those diseases. Those problems, well alcohol and drug use, were problems of the lower class, not those in poverty. (There is a difference.) However, we have now so poorly defined poor, that we regret even having a lower class. We pretend taking away money from them will leave them starving in the streets, but the truth is, we conquered poverty long ago, and did it with capitalism, not government. Our problem now is that the liberals, and some conservatives, can't accept the existence of the lower class, or any income inequality, and they are mistaking low income for poverty.

Which is why the rhetoric of the "war on poverty" so offends me. The rhetoric pretends we have third world or historical poverty, while in truth we a re a very rich country, and yet, thanks to this deceptive argument we end up throwing away a fortune, impairing our economy, and stopping additional growth, all because we have been misled about the true nature of wealth and poverty in our country.

Obviously, as I have so often written about this topic, I will need to revisit this in some detail in the future. Perhaps it merits a lengthy examination of all the issues I have raised. So please keep watching the blog, as I shall be returning tot his topic once again.

Originally posted in Random Notes on 2012/02/02.

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