On whether poverty can ever be solved
(Another old essay, from the predecessor space to the blog)
This is a very difficult situation which doesn’t seem to have any ready answer. I have criticized the economic gap elsewhere, raising assumptions that I was trying to “implement socialism”. I wished more people knew about type, so I could explain that I am a Perceiver, so I make observations but do not necessarily have a solution, where many of the people I have debated on this are likely Judgers, so to them you are either building up one system or the other, and you must stand for one, or otherwise must be trying to tear it down, and you must stand wholeheartedly for something, accepting its warts and all, or just shut up and don’t say anything.
But in addition to poverty, we still have a lot of middle class complaining about taxes and such, and many still blaming “social programs” (e.g. “Taxed Enough Already”, with the assumption that it’s all going to “liberal spending”); the latest being the health care bill.
But most refuse to ever consider that the filthy rich might be the ones draining the economy. They argue that they “deserve” it because they “pulled up their bootstraps”, and “the market” is what determines they should make that much.
But still, this does not change the fact that their oncome is getting higher and higher, no matter the state of the economy. Even when they crash the company, they still get rewarded, go on $89,000 pheasant hunts, and bailed out from being “too big to fail” (and conservatives blame Obama for this instead of the executives).
The problem is, what do we do about this? Radical liberal answers might be something like pay caps and regulation of wealth, but then this compromises our principles of freedom. And where do you draw the line?
Conservatives are right, also, that to “punish” the capitalists will just cause them to pass whatever loss down to everyone else, through loss of jobs, higher prices, or just taking the business elsewhere. (Basically “punishing” everyone).
But then, it looks like they got us all by the throat, doesn’t it! [This I would say is pure “nature”; of the strongest being in such a position of power. But it lacks “integrity”, which is the “care” and “justice” we are supposed to bring into our participation in nature. But you really can’t force or legislate this].
So the conservatives just try to point the blame in the opposite direction, like taking every welfare person or illegal immigrant or health care recipient, turning them upside down and shaking every penny off of them will recover the economy. Giving more to the rich will “create a bigger pie” they also claim. Yet every two decades they are given more, and then we suffer these crunches, increasingly radical Democrats are elected, and then the back and forth debate begins as to which party’s fault or credit the bad or good times are (the one in office, or the previous one).
To use the pie analogy to illustrate the absurdity of conservative rhetoric, we start with a pie, and several people vying to get as much of it as possible. Since it takes effort to climb the table and cut the pieces and claim them, the most driven tend to get the biggest pieces. Some are held back by discrimination, but this is eventually overturned, and the discriminated groups can gain more, but slower, and others already had more to begin with. Programs are enacted to give to these people, and others still with less for whatever reason.
Yet at the same time, those most driven gain a bigger and bigger appetite (as often happens when one has more), and demand more and more for their “efforts” (which are largely the same).
So a few, more driven people have about 7/8ths of the pie. Everyone else must share one eighth. Chunks are taken from all eight slices, with crumbs to be given to the less fortunate. However, the others do get some of those chunks or crumbs back as well, in addition to the authority regulating everything. Eventually, an uproar occurs over this, and people are blaming the loss of the crumbs for their financial problems. They believe the more driven people “deserve” the other 7/8ths, so they refuse to even consider that. Instead, people teach that if you give the more driven people their chunks back, they will put it back in the pie and somehow create an even larger pie from it, so that all will have more. Just give it time. We have tried to give them more, but it is not enough, and the other side keeps trying to reverse this.
But what they’re actually doing is consuming most of it, and then even spreading it to other tables (who are so impoverished they accept less). Yet people keep blaming those at this table who receive the crumbs, even though many have received less as time went on. They actually portray them as a “horde of grasshoppers” [or “takers”] who have taken most of the pie and chewed it up and spat it out right before them. They insist that they did not earn what they have gotten, and the question of whether that is really true, and whether that is where the majority of the pie is really going is sidestepped.
I liked the way the Zeitgest films spoke of the image of a “scarcity-based economy”, when there is really abundance in the earth, that is concentrated through the fiat money/credit/debt system. Saying we need to do something to gain a “bigger pie” is saying the pie is too small, and thus, scarce. [And they try to argue that there is no “zero sum game”, where giving more to the rich means less for everyone else. But still, there is a whole premise of scarcity, and they have no qualms blaming it on the poor, in a “zero-sum” fashion!]
But as I have said, money and resources have not been taken off of the earth. It’s all still here, only concentrated in certain places. (And those places are not among the poor, or minority groups!
The utopianism of the film’s producers does seem very farfetched, and it leads them to denounce all religion; seen as impeding the progress expected to come from stuff like cloning).
As for poverty, there is no way to completely end that, as you can’t control those in power. The only thing that can control them would be some super powerful government, but then who can control that? It will be the same imbalance, and then become abusive and corrupt itself.
Many homeless I see (laying covered in waste-soiled clothes, etc) are mentally ill who are released from institutions that I imagine can’t take care of them anymore. So money won’t help them.
And there are some who are lazy, or just don’t aspire to more wealth. (In addition to the fact that “poverty” is a bit relative, anyway).
So “ending poverty” I do not see as any sort of achievable goal. What I think we should focus on is trying to make things a bit more fair (and conservatives waver back and forth between saying “life isn’t fair”; until they think something is unfair towards them, which they will insist be rectified!), and thus somehow finding a way to spread the abundance. But there just doesn’t seem to be any way we know of to do that. Whether we try to force people, or just let them do what they want, those who gain power will still take advantage.
I call it the three T’s for gain of power: Temperament/(type), Talent, and Timing/opportunity.
I just wish for now, people will at least be aware of where all the money is really flowing, and stop trying to blame the wrong people. That will at least make it more likely someone will discover some better solution,instead of this endless loop of rises and falls and blame.