Poverty has to “exist” if we are to fix the problem of poverty [Reader Post]

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Hear me out. I’ll end this with a cherry on top, a simple five second mental exercise that exposes the fallacy that is known as wealth disparity.


Federal welfare spending in fiscal year 2011 totaled $668 billion***, spread out over 126 programs, while the poverty rate remains high at 15.1 percent, roughly where it was in 1965, when President Johnson declared a federal War on Poverty [14.7%].

In 1966, the first year after Johnson declared war on poverty, the national poverty rate was 14.7 percent, according to Census Bureau figures. Over time, the poverty rate has fluctuated in a narrow range between 11 and 15 percent, only falling into the 11 percent range for a few years in the late 1970’s.

***“Since President Obama took office [in January 2009], federal welfare spending has increased by 41 percent, [increasing it by] more than $193 billion per year,” the study says.

Yet poverty level remains the same.

Trillions of dollars spent and not a damn difference. A culture of dependence was created. A voting bloc. Cradle to grave. The argument is not to say we shouldn’t help the poor. The issue is the metric by which we define, measure, help, and report on the poor.


The official poverty measure counts only monetary income. It considers antipoverty programs such as food stamps, housing assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid and school lunches, among others, “in-kind benefits” — and hence not income. So, despite everything these programs do to relieve poverty, they aren’t counted as income when Washington measures the poverty rate.

My conclusion is that the poverty rate is NEVER going to change. It is not DESIGNED that way. It’s another way how pols game the numbers

Relatively, the poor are poorer than the other 85%, but the question is how poor in real terms? So poor they can’t afford cable or cell phones?

Not in America. The pols don’t measure nor report after the fact, they measure/report before the fact to keep us giving, giving, giving, giving the largess that created a dependent voting bloc.

The end result is an increasing majority of our poor who can live a lower middle class life (everyone gets a ribbon) while the pols maintain a narrative that appeals to pity. Ad Misericordiam. And one that is bankrupting Western Nations.

Not just our poor. These mechanics are built into the welfare state. Every welfare state. Equality at the finishing line. Practically all Western Nations are down this road.

Denmark. An advanced welfare state. An immigrant family of four can get the equivalent of $80,ooo in various subsidies for housing, food and other necessities. It’s not national or cultural. It’s characteristic of the welfare state. It’s not meant to end poverty. And it doesn’t (as the facts show: 14.7% in 1965 vs 15.1% today 2012).

Wealth Disparity Thought Experiment: Let’s pretend we have a onetime $$$ holiday that evenly redistributed all wealth. How long do you think it would take to have wealth disparity again? Very quickly. Almost immediately. Some people will burn through that cash overnight. It’s a matter of fact some are thrifty and save, while others spend spend spend like Obama; some people waste money while others save, invest, and build wealth.

So what do we do? Redistribute continuously? Disincentivize thrift, hard work while incentivizing losing habits…

Unfortunately this seems to be the current model.

6 Responses to “Poverty has to “exist” if we are to fix the problem of poverty [Reader Post]”

  1. 1


    M, if I am poor with a family in Denmark, and we have $80,000 in income and benefits, why would I work a legitimate job for $45,000 and lose my benefits?

    Considering the facts of an ever growing population of legal and illegal entitlement groups, I think it is commendable that our poor have kept up with population growth. It’s true they are growing in sheer numbers, but not in terms of a ratio to working classes. This is where the Dewey decimal fails us and where we delude ourselves.

  2. 2


    Just a little tangent with mucho thank yous to the FA crew for allowing me a forum.

    The pic FA editors included above is so Americana. Dorothea Lange has a huge body of work, iirc she was a Time-Life photographer. Her works recall a predecessor and lesser known vanguard photojournalist, Jacob Riis of the 19th century, author of Bandits Roost, How the Other Half Lives.

    But back on subject. @Skookum: Exactly, why would you. I didn’t necessarily spell it out and axed a sentence or two about it (as my thinking gets a bit convoluted), but I had deeper contrast to how success is preceived, taxed, judged, and regarded for some by their gross income while for others closer to perceived poverty they are judged and measured by their net before any assistance is given. But net is not even the correct word, net indicates money left after taxes, not money available after entitlement.

    We need a word for income+entitlement; gross in this sense is a bit misleading as that would indicate income before taxes; and as stated, net is income after taxes; so we really need a word for income+entitlement so we can properly define what we are talking about.

    The true disparity is judging me by my gross while contrasting me to the income+entitlement tier without consideration nor metrics to measure their ever increasing entitlements.

    So to answer rhetorically. Exactly, why? Why gross $45K and lose 30% to taxes when you can have $25K in income + $15K entitlement and no tax penalty.

  3. 3


    Dorthea Lange’s photographs are more symbolic of what happens when the government tries to influence people than they are “Americana.” She was hired by the FSA to show the destitution of the “Oakies” who had fled their farms during the Dust Bowl. She was personally picked by FDR, who understood that the plight of the farmers was causing concern to his re-election in 1936, as he felt her photos did with people what Ansel Adams did for landscapes. For six years, FDR had ignored the plight of the Dust Bowl farmers, but now came an election year and reporters were beginning to take note that he seemed to have little concern with the farmers.

    But what was it that caused that disaster? The federal government had opened up lands for homesteading that was nothing more than plains grasses with limited top soil. The government wanted to move people west, as some thought the eastern cities were getting far too crowded, so the government encouraged people to move to the plains area of the Midwest and farm it. Everyone knew the rain was limited in those areas, but people were told “The rain follows the plow” and so people, living in eastern city slums, move to Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas to be able to farm and perhaps create a better life for their families. Encouraged by our own federal government, the people soon faced the lack of rain and the fact that the precious little top soil had been removed by a plow. Add the high winds and you had a disaster of government making.

    The FSA, born out of the RA, was another abstract failure. The brain child of Rex (The Red) Tugwell, it was doomed from the start. Tugwell, a fan of Joseph Stalin, had been a proponent of the communal farms created by Stalin, and felt that they would work here. But Americans, even in the ’30’s, had ownership in their DNA and they were not willing to work hard only to have to share their labors with others who did not work as hard.

    If Dorthea Lange’s photographs exposed anything, it was that governments are abstract failures at social engineering. It did not work then, it will not work now, although I am sure the professors of the Frankfort School of Marxism who fled to the U.S. in the early 30’s would be proud of what they have acheived.

  4. 4


    The woman [family] in the picture is ‘true’ poverty in my eyes…any conservative can agree THESE are the people who”truly” need our help….and the mentally disabled, the elderly…

    Our Government ‘created’ poverty… and our Government created Perpetual Poverty….through government Dependency…

    ….yep all those 545 people are responsible… for yesterday’s, today’s and 50 years of Government poverty….

    No need to do a lot of ‘fixin’ just take away the bird feeder…a little at a time if necessary….

  5. 5

    Liberal1 (objectivity)

    This is the old W.F. Buckley argument (and probably by someone before him): “If we redistributed the wealth evenly between the rich and the poor, it would ultimately wind up in the hands of the same rich people again.” Only problem: This belief is not supported by any evidence, i.e., is not a matter of fact, but is only a clever construct of biased opinion.

  6. 6


    @Liberal1 (objectivity): it would ultimately wind up in the hands of the same rich people again

    Actually, that’s not what I said. The issue is thriftiness. You will always have people who are thriftier than the other. And over a timeline a persons spending habits fluctuate, so not everyone is constantly thrifty.

    So it’s you my friend who are biased of opinion. You battle with fact. You baseline that people aren’t stupid nor spend idiotically; that everyone is as thrifty as the other at the same time.

    Love your groupthink.

    Thriftiness? What does that mean. Is everyone just as thrifty as their neighbor?


    Can we have piggy bank equality when I’m saving my nickels and picking up pennies when the constrast isn’t?

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