Help me here as I play with an idea I had about poverty in America

Poverty Compton Gangs

I was speaking with my sister this morning and wondered if I was correct that there is something unique about poverty in America. It started with my stating, apropos I don’t remember what, that smaller government is safer government — the mere fact that it is small limits the amount of mischief it can do to individual citizens. My sister agreed, but added “if government is small, it also limits the amount of benefits it can confer.”

What my sister was speaking about, of course, are social services. Some see them as a necessary safety net, some see them as a perpetual welfare program, and some see them as a beneficial way to redistribute wealth. I’m actually not here to argue about the merits or demerits of America’s social services. I want to head in another direction entirely.

My response to my sister was that, yes, government can confer benefits, but those benefits invariably come with strings attached: Increased government control over people’s lives (“He who pays the piper calls the tune”), increasingly intrusive government, corrupt government, power-hungry government, etc. In any event, I argued, government benefits never raise people above a bare minimum.

If you want to find the best way to raise people out of poverty, I said, look to the free market. At no other time in history, and in no other place, either in the past or the present, have more people been raised up than those people who have benefited from the last 150 years free market enterprise in the Western World.

In America, especially, poverty — real poverty of the type that people experienced historically or that people still experience in the Third World — no longer exists. To the extent that there are people who live in the streets, who go hungry, and who lack clothing or other care, you’ll invariably find mental illness or substance abuse attached.

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Arrest photo by U.S. Marshals Service

About Bookworm 1320 Articles
Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She's been blogging since 2004 at Bookworm Room about anything that captures her fancy -- and that's usually politics. Her blog's motto is "Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts."


  1. Books, you’re quite correct, and I would go even further. Anyone who’s actually seen real poverty in Latin America or elsewhere knows we have precious little if any of it here. ‘Poverty’ is a relative term in America, thank G-d.

    What we have now is a victim/envy culture promulgated by the Left for political purposes and they aren’t going to allow it to be dislodged or replaced willingly. That’s really the crux of the matter, replacing a dysfunctional culture with a much more functional and self-reliant one. Simply getting rid of the social safety net entirely isn’t going to happen. It’s toxic politically, would lead to huge social unrest and penalize deserving people who actually need the help.

    Fixing this is possible, but I think you’d need the following:

    1)A thorough vetting and investigation of those taking advantage of the bodied young males, illegal migrants, etc.

    2)Destroying the teacher’s unions and totally changing the nature of our public education to teach very different culture and behavior to get rid of the victim mentality.

    3) Establishing paid apprenticeships to teach trades to young men and women through America’s corporations and small businesses. My father of blessed memory (Z”L) was the first Jew in his union and learned his trade that way. A qualified baker, oil worker, plumber, computer tech or auto mechanic need not be unemployed.

    There are other things that could be done, but that’s a mouthful already. Keep in mind that the Democrats would fight anything like this tooth and nail

  2. The fight is already beginning. At Breitbart, Virgil wrote a splendid article about the “deep state” that is fighting tooth and nail to keep its government wealth and prerogatives. Everything you’ve described that needs to be done — and you’re right about everything — will cut further into those vested interests. I wish Trump health, strength, good spirits, and a never-ending will to fight, because he’ll need all three.

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