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Throw the dog a bone…

As reported in the NY times, the poverty rate increased dramatically in 2009:

“The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent — the highest since 1994 — from 13.2 percent in 2008. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the official poverty line, the bureau said.”

1 in 5 – that is 20% of our children live in poverty. That’s an astounding figure for a supposed first world nation. One that I think would be hard to argue doesn’t need to be corrected somehow.

So you’re one of the types who doesn’t believe in stimulus – perhaps you’re worried about the deficit, or government intervention, or you just plain believe Keynesian policies are bunk. Fine, so what is your solution for all these people living in poverty?

You think they need to get off their asses and work? Fine again, but in the mean time, do we just sit back and let the 20% of children suffer because their parents are deadbeats? It’s not like they have a choice in this.

Should private charity come to the rescue? Fine as well, but they’re not coming to the rescue. They’ve never been able to come to the rescue in sufficient quantities to address poverty. Charity has existed as long as poverty itself and always the outcome is the same – there isn’t enough. It doesn’t get the job done. Hell even Jesus talked about it.

That’s why as states matured they created things like welfare, food stamps, and other aid – because on a state level, it was plausible, whereas out of the fickle generosity of individuals, it has never done the trick.

So, here’s my goat with Libertarians and uber-capitalists:

I don’t care if we take your way as long as it works. As long as the poor get fed, the vast majority get a living wage, the environment isn’t destroyed, and our civil rights remain.

But that’s not what’s happening. The poor are not getting fed, the number of people getting a living wage are dropping, the environment is getting destroyed, and more and more we are exchanging our personal rights and protections for those of corporations.

And I honestly don’t buy, “If we just had a little more market freedom things would be better.” Market freedom has been increasing exponentially since 1980 when free market reforms really took off and in direct correlation inequality and poverty have risen.

Worse market moralism has declined. When I was a child there was a defacto understanding between labor and management that paying a living wage was the moral thing to do, that reasonable benefits were deserved by all, that retirement would not be unattainable, and that there would be some loyalty between the employed and the employers. Now the mantra is, “Whatever is best for the shareholder is best for all.” So now screw the employees if it helps the bottom line. Spin them to part time to avoid paying benefits. Send their jobs to China if it saves a buck. Get rid of the old people who earn too much. Treat them like just another disposable widget.

And even now you read suggestions that corporations, perhaps even individuals, should literally not donate to charity. That charity just creates codependence. That it’s part of the problem.

Fine again, but what is the option? We let them starve? We let the children starve?

So again, I’ll happily live with a better mousetrap than so called “Keynesian socialism”, but whatever it is has to work. Whatever it is can’t leave millions in long term suffering. Even Ford, who hated unions and the government saw that you had to throw the dog a bone to make the economy viable. Why can’t modern capitalists now?

I’m not right? You’ve got the answer?

Ok – so what’s your vision kids? Either put up or shut up, because it sure as hell ain’t working now.

UPDATE:

And I also don’t care if people are filthy rich – as long as we don’t have the filthy poor. Have your money. Enjoy your yachts, 10 cars, and 5 homes. Just make sure the rest of us are taken care of. That everyone gets food at the table and a roof over their head. That all of us, despite any differences in income, can live with a modicum of comfort that all humanity has a basic right to.

UPDATE 2:

What I don’t get is generally speaking the Libertarians, conservatives, and uber-capitalists all have one thing in common: religion. So, what would he have to say about all this greed and poverty eh?

Wiki Commons - Jesus

WWJD

The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent — the highest since 1994 — from 13.2 percent in 2008. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the official poverty line, the bureau said.

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