Paternalism of the State

Poverty is an issue which strikes countries from all around the world. From the desolate third world to even the most of prosperous of nations people can find themselves left behind. Alleviating the bottom class from their ailments has been a puzzle among many civilizations for as long as  the concept of society has existed. States have tried welfare programs, redistribution, and Jobs programs; all to no avail. One must ask the question however “Is the answer right in front of our eyes?”. Understanding human action and what drives it is crucial to answering this question. The poverty stricken are living breathing people with thoughts and emotions after all. It is imperative that we realize this instead of going on with the idea that they are a motionless and mindless statistical numbers on a white board. So what drives human action?

People will always try to  act in a way that benefits themselves. This while obvious is a premise not often applied to economics. So  if poverty is to be alleviated the system must be designed in such a way that it encourages the desired action. does someone reward their children for dangerous behavior while disciplining them for actually behaving? Of course not. So why have we set up a system that does just that for grown adults. Why is the system designed to reward an individual’s failure while punishing their success. Through understanding human nature we realize this will drive human action counter to our desired goal.

The State has designed welfare in such a way that it traps people in the bottom rung of society unable to climb any further. The programs provide money, food, medical care, and in some cases even transportation. Yet by making only a few hundred dollars more beneficiaries can lose much of what the programs offer. Why should one work for an extra $200 only to lose $160 in benefits? People who work consistently for 40 years who require only little assistance are turned down for being only slightly over the income line. When the system refuses to  assist a pregnant women with her medical bills because her husband makes too much money yet will pay for everything after he quits his job there is little doubt it is broken. Can one blame an individual for not putting themselves through struggle only to see their remuneration ripped away? Can the husband of the pregnant women be blamed for doing what was necessary to get the bills paid? Of course not. These are not evil lazy people who enjoy their position in poverty, but rather everyday citizens who found themselves in a temporary slump turned permanent.

Furthermore the state Punishes the success of individuals that attempt to better their position through taxes and fees ripping the remuneration of their labours from their hands before it even reaches their pockets.

Poverty rates were steadily tapering until the mid 1960′s when the war on poverty and the welfare state truly began. after this the poverty rate began to fluctuate.index

Worst of all the state treats individuals as children without ability to act in their own self interests. The government acts as a parent placing a bandaid on a child’s cut. Welfare is a bandaid on the festering wound which is poverty. If a victory over poverty is to be made than poverty must be attacked at its source. First it must be decided what we mean by poverty. Harlem poverty? Ethiopian poverty? There are many different levels of poverty and the poor of rich countries surely can’t be categorized with those of poor countries. So what separates the two? The answer is quite clear, their surroundings. The poor in rich countries have access to goods which even wealthy of other countries find difficult to acquire and the poor today surely live better than the poor twenty or thirty years ago. This is because technological advancements and efficient production have allowed these countries to create such an excess that the standard of living for everyone (including the poor) have improved. Each of us know people classified as poor that have Food, Clean Water, Shelter, Ipods in their pockets, and Shoes on their feet. For the reasons stated the meaning of what it is to be poor has changed. To raise the poor from their positions one must raise the living standards of the entire society.

People with the promise of wealth and success will push and better themselves. Poverty is a place in which nobody wishes to stay. The fact is reality has consequences. It is consequences that drive people. By removing consequence altogether we send false signals to the individual in what action


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