What About The Poor?

 

Because Libertarians oppose government operated health care, education and other state services, many people conclude we have no sympathy for the underprivileged.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The hidden assumption is that the present system does help the poor.  In fact, it is the current system that creates the poor!  When our government schools turn out illiterates, they go on welfare.  When the Milk Marketing Board refuses to provide enough milk and a cheese factory closes, its employees go on welfare.  When government monetary policies cause inflation that wipes out savings intended for retirement, the elderly go on welfare.  When licensing laws and minimum wage laws destroy jobs, the jobless go on welfare.  When the tax and regulatory structure stifles economic growth and dries up risk capital that might have built new businesses, the jobless stay on welfare.  And when a poor family looks at its options, the best one the government offers is for the father to walk away from his family so the mother and children can go on welfare.

Clearly, the poor fare the worst as government power increases.  Governments have always served those with the most power and taken advantage of those with the least.  Only in a free society do the underprivileged have the opportunity to improve their lives.

Out of compassion for the enormous human suffering brought about by these government-created problems, Libertarians are working to reverse the trend towards authoritarian government.

 

REFERENCES

It’s Time to End Welfare - Though many claim that governments can reduce poverty by raising welfare rates and making benefits easier to get, the only real poverty reduction in half a century of welfare policy has come about by raising employment rates, not welfare rates. Writing for Frontier, Rick August, argues that welfare has helped create and perpetuate a cycle of poverty.

Manitoba Public Insurance monopoly is hurting the poor - MPI, the provincially controlled auto insurance monopoly, is trying to rid the province of cheap, serviceable vehicles in the belief cars built prior to 1995 are bad for the environment. However, when it comes to fighting poverty, access to a car is a very powerful weapon. For those on welfare, driving is the best means to find and keep a job. For low-income workers, cars make many better jobs more accessible. And cars make life much simpler for single parents. A car can be as significant as a high school education to improving outcomes.  Read more.

High minimum wages are a bad strategy for fighting poverty - Politicians say that minimum wage increases will fight poverty – in fact, they cause unemployment and therefore likely create more poverty than they destroy.  Most minimum wage workers aren’t poor- in fact, about a third of minimum wage workers belong to households in the top half of the income distribution. Read more.

The Poor Would Have More in a Libertarian Society - This paper by Dr. Mary Ruwart illustrates a variety of ways that a libertarian society would provide more help to the needy than today's government-run welfare system.  Based on changes made by different states, she estimates that at least half of the welfare recipients would be able to find work if the incentives to stay on welfare were reduced or eliminated.  She claims that only one third of welfare dollars actually get to welfare recipients, whereas two thirds of charitable donations get to those in need.  These two factors alone would quadruple the money available to help the needy.  Read more.