Let me accept all the statistics others give about the poor. However, I have some numbers for you. Last year we spent $714 billion on anit-poverty programs. Thats $17,850 per person or $71,400 a year for a family of four. Note that the official povery line per person is $10,830. We could have just mailed every poor person a check and saved $210 billion. We are spending enough each year to make the poor middle class. Actually we would have spent less since only $3,000 is added on to the poverty level per child. That is why long ago when I started paying enough in taxes to support a family of four above the poverty level I suggested that the government just assign me a family. I would send them the money, give the kids birthday presents and visit them at christmas.
Do you know that the standard of living of America's poor is higher than that of the average European or Japanese? Poverty in America does not mean the devastating poverty seen in the rest of the world. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation points out that very few of America’s 40 million that live in poverty are actually impoverished suffering significant hardships. Rector notes such figures as 40 percent own their homes. 84 percent of the households are air conditioned. Two thirds have cable or satellite tv. 3-4 own a care. 98 percent own a color tv with 2/3 owning two or more color tvs. The typical poor American has more living space that the average european. Poor boys at 18 and 19 are an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
The problem is that we have programs that do not encourage the incentives that lead to a reduction in poverty. We have programs that do just the opposite. Those programs when implemented saw the black nuclear family little different that whites. Now disincentives translate to 70 percent of black babies being born to single mothers. I would heavily subsidize the poor nuclear family whose kids are not in trouble, who go to school and work hard. Surely we are smart enough to structure anti-poverty programs that encourage people not to be poor.
We are all ill served by black intellectuals and our spokesmen. I am looking forward to the day when we have no spokesmen. Who speaks for the Jews? Who speaks for the Asians? Who speaks for the Hispanics? Who is the white spokesman? In the main, black scholars are not comfortable analyzing the black business tradition. Black scholars almost uniformly condemn capitalism. Black scholars tend to be socialists rather than capitalists. This is due in part to their training. They did not major in business but in liberal arts. It was telling to hear the criticism of Herman Cain by Cornell West who resorted to name calling. Well Herman Cain has done more for black people than Cornell West ever has. Just what has Professor West accomplished other than profess? No positive solutions from him. Although they exist in growing numbers, haven’t you noticed that most of the black voices that are pro market and pro free enterprise are seldom heard? The media ignores them and runs to Cornell West, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton rather than Bob Woodson or Allen West or Tim Scott.
The media which in the main are also educated in liberal arts chose those who are like minded to speak for blacks. We are left therefore with apologists who blame every ill on racism and demand more handouts which reinforce poverty rather seeking positive solutions.
Happy Birthday Frederic Bastiat
10 months ago