The Liberal Assault on the Poor

Friday, May 7, 2010
By Paul Martin

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Liberals say that they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, however, the economic philosophy that liberals favor constitutes a direct assault on the economic well-being of the poor, along with nearly everyone else in society.

Liberals claim to combat poverty in two principal ways.

First, they use the force of government (e.g., income taxes) to take money from those who have earned it in order to give it to the poor.

Second, they restrict people’s use of their property to enable the poor to have access to such property.

What liberals fail to understand, however, is that the very means they choose to combat poverty – socialism and interventionism – actually exacerbate the problem that they claim to address. Their war on poverty hurts the very people they say they are trying to assist.

In proposing welfare-state programs, by necessity liberals always make an important assumption. They assume that there is wealth in society. After all, if there is no wealth then what good would welfare-state policies do? The welfare state operates on the assumption that there are people who are earning wealth or have accumulated wealth. Those are the people from whom the government takes money in order to redistribute it to the poor.

Let’s consider a hypothetical case based on science fiction. Astronomers discover that an inhabitable planet is hurtling toward our solar system and will soon join the other planets in orbit around the sun. Faced with overcrowding of its prisons, the federal government decides to exile 50,000 prisoners on a spaceship to the planet. Everyone is given six months of supplies on which to survive – food, water, and clothing – and nothing else.

When the prisoners arrive on the planet, they call into existence a federal government, democratically elected. Federal officials are empowered to do everything and anything they can to combat the extreme poverty that is immediately facing society.

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