Furthest Right

Assessing Anti-Poverty Altruism

In every human society ever known, people have lamented the cruel, cold world and how it does not think of the suffering of individual humans. In each of those societies, people have been manipulated by people who promise to reject the world and think of human suffering, but in the process have made themselves powerful and wealthy.

Pandering to the emotional needs of others is like managing expectations in a business context. You need to do it, but the job involves getting people to accept reality in a way they can handle. Most people however skip the hard part of the job and focus merely on manipulating feelings.

Certain tokens are used as the basis of rationalization and therefore are open-ended symbols of “good” that manipulators can use. Religion is one, sex another, money yet another, but the most common seems to be pledging to end suffering by helping those who suffer, which translates to giving alms to the poor.

Like politicians kissing babies, corporations sponsoring Little League teams, and governments handing out reams of medals, the practice of being conspicuously anti-poverty serves the manipulator. Since most manipulators hide behind altruism, this approach comes naturally from their palette of methods of making others do what they want.

The question remaining is whether this pity-token — “the poor” — actually exists, or whether we are as in most things repeating century-old tropes as if they were current. Some data suggests that capitalism abolished poverty in the sense we meant it a century ago:

For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 35 million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. Most of America’s “poor” live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or welloff just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.

When we think of poverty, our old trope comes from literature: barefoot people living in shacks fighting for something to eat each day. Thanks to capitalism reducing the cost of goods and services, as well as socialist social safety nets, this seems to mostly be a thing of the past, although the homeless camps are swelling.

Anti-poverty has been a center of Leftist dogma since its modern inception:

The Bocquier Law of December 19th, 1793 provided a system of compulsory and free state education for all children aged 6 – 13, albeit with a curriculum stressing patriotism. Homeless children also became a state responsibility, and people born out of wedlock were given full inheritance rights. A universal system of metric weights and measurements was introduced on August 1, 1793, while an attempt to end poverty was made by using ‘suspects’ property to aid the poor.

It provides a convenient transition to socialism or “free” benefits, which seem to have always been part of the liberal agenda, although this generally translates into a mixed economy or free markets with high taxes and a government bureaucracy to dole out little bits of aid that are never quite enough to live well on.

The mixed economy is the capitalist-socialist hybrid that has replaced the visions of Marx simply because it is more robust. It keeps the failed system of socialism alive by feeding it from a capitalism economy, producing a liberalized capitalism that satisfies no one:

In developed Western economies, the historical development of the mixed economy is the evolutionary change of the free market concept as it adapted to avoid the risks of widespread social unrest and potential revolutionary socialist or Marxist change. Social democratic programs that arose in continental Europe in the 20th century created coalitions of business interests with major social groups to improve social welfare without jettisoning private property and the market economy. This mixed economic approach included economic planning, high tariffs, guarantees of group rights, and social welfare programs.

The important detail there is that when socialism threatened political stability in the West, capitalism adapted through democracy adding the government benefits state, which seems to have bought off the restive lower orders which might otherwise stage another unwise and incompetent Revolution.

In the long run, the socialists want to create welfare state accelerationism by making a welfare system insufficient, leading to demands for more of a welfare state:

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when “the rest of society is afraid of them,” Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system. The authors also asserted that: (a) the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the country; (b) poor people would rise in revolt; and (c) only then would “the rest of society” accept their demands.

As it turns out, this seems to be the nature of anti-poverty efforts generally because demand rises to meet supply. If you hand out free stuff, everyone will take it except those who already have it, which effects a wealth transfer from the productive to the unproductive.

History shows us that this process, repeated not just in the economy but with genetics and social norms as well, constitutes the slow erosion of society through Crowdism, or the tendency to ignore real issues and focus on popular illusions because this conveys power and wealth to individual careerists.

Perhaps a saner society would simply accept poverty like it does crime as a part of daily life, or couple the welfare state with a need to relocate to a special substate designed for all the poor in the nation. As it is, anti-poverty efforts produce more poverty and propel us toward collapse.

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