Tag Archives: poor

“The Inequality Bogeyman”

2 Feb

Thomas Sowell, the well-known black conservative economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, had the words below to say about economic inequality.  The full column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/the-inequality-bogeyman.html

Excerpt:   [Bracketed material is mine – so is the bolding]

. . . . [D]ifferences in capabilities are inescapable, and they make a big difference in what and how much we can contribute to each other’s economic and other well-being. If we all had the same capabilities and the same limitations, one individual’s limitations would be the same as the limitations of the entire human species.

We are lucky that we are so different, so that the capabilities of many other people can cover our limitations.

One of the problems with so many discussions of income and wealth is that the intelligentsia are so obsessed with the money that people receive that they give little or no attention to what causes money to be paid to them, in the first place.

. . . . From the standpoint of a society as a whole, money is just an artificial device to give us incentives to produce real things — goods and services.

Those goods and services are the real “wealth of nations,” as Adam Smith titled his treatise on economics in the 18th century.

[A few paragraphs follow about John D. Rockefeller, his contributions to U.S. economic growth and his resultant fortune, with shout-out to Edison, the Wright brothers, and Henry Ford.]

Too many discussions of large fortunes attribute them to “greed” — as if wanting a lot of money is enough to cause other people to hand it over to you. It is a childish idea, when you stop and think about it — but who stops and thinks these days?

Edison, Ford, the Wright brothers, and innumerable others also created unprecedented expansions of the lives of ordinary people. The individual fortunes represented a fraction of the wealth created. . . .

Intellectuals’ obsession with income statistics — calling envy “social justice” — ignores vast differences in productivity that are far more fundamental to everyone’s well-being. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg has ruined many economies.

[End of excerpt]

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Simple Prescription for Eliminating “Poverty” in America

2 Feb

Mona Charen, one of my favorite columnists, recently wrote the following paragraphs about the poor and unemployed in a piece that can be found in full at http://www.creators.com/opinion/mona-charen/will-anyone-watch-tonights-speech-why.html

I think this is very well said – enjoy.  [I put “Poverty” in quotes in my title because I have serious concerns about how loosely we define poverty in this country — there are probably a few billion people in this world who would feel as though they were solidly in the middle class if they were as well off as most of the folks we have arbitrarily defined as “living in poverty”.]

Excerpt from Ms. Charen:

Most economists agree that increasing the minimum wage has a tendency to discourage hiring. Second, most people who earn minimum wage are not heads of households. Third, 80 percent are not poor. Fourth, most receive a raise within 12 months. Fifth, the states containing half the population already have minimum wages above the federal level.

What the soft shoe about income inequality and declining upward mobility is meant to disguise is that Obama has presided over an economy that is providing diminishing opportunities for work. People who work full time are almost never poor. The Current Population Survey of the Census Bureau found that among full-time workers, the poverty rate in 2013 was 2.9 percent. Most of those who are poor are not working at all or are working only part time.

Long-term unemployment is demoralizing for the jobless and expensive for taxpayers. Rather than attempt to set wages from Washington, Obama’s entire focus ought to be on removing obstacles to hiring. . . .

Obama will boast that he has a “pen and a phone.” He can use his pen to relax some of the job-depressing regulations his administration has imposed, particularly in the health, financial and energy sectors. He can use his phone to approve the Keystone pipeline. And he could use his influence to extol the essential habits of success, without which more and more Americans will fail to flourish. As the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported years ago, if Americans do three simple things, they will not be poor: 1) graduate from high school , 2) get a job and 3) wait until marriage to have their first child.

[End of excerpt]

Those Terrible, Uncaring Conservatives . . .

7 Jan

David Limbaugh, in his recent column titled “The Left’s Latest Mantra:  Income Inequality”, besides addressing the left’s unjustified claims to the high ground on income inequality, has this to say about the liberal world view in general.  I thought it was well stated.  The whole column can be read at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/david-limbaugh/the-lefts-latest-mantra-income-inequality.html

Excerpt:  [Emphasis is mine]

Whether or not liberals are able to process the reality that their programs have failed, they will not abandon them, because class warfare and government dependency programs are their ticket to power. CNN’s Candy Crowley unwittingly admitted as much when she asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker why any unemployed American or minimum wage worker would become a Republican.

It’s not that conservatives don’t care about the poor. It’s that we do care about the poor — and everyone else. We believe that our free market solutions generate economic growth, stimulate upward mobility and improve the economic lives of far more people, including the poor and middle class, than any other system. History vindicates us.

The left will always win the “look at how much I care about you” contest. But it loses in the “actually caring” department because at some point, people have to be presumed to have intended the damaging results their policies have consistently caused.

[End of excerpt]

The “Trickle-Down Theory” Exposed

7 Jan

Economist Thomas Sowell has a recent column titled “The Trickle-Down Lie”, in which Dr. Sowell reminds us that the oft-used phrase by the left, the damnable “Trickle-Down Theory”, is not a real theory at all, and “trickle-down” is found in no reputable texts.  He also mentions that high-profile, even far left, Democrats from the past have, in fact, cautioned against over-taxing the economically well-to-do.  The “Lie” being that conservatives have grasped onto this “theory”, to the detriment of all humankind (or so we might believe).

The full column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/the-trickle-down-lie.html

. . . but here is an exciting excerpt:  [Emphasis is mine]

New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, in his inaugural speech, denounced people “on the far right” who “continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics.” According to Mayor de Blasio, “They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work                         their way down to everyone else.” . . . .

The book  “Winner-Take-All Politics” refers to “the ‘trickle-down’ scenario that advocates of helping the have-it-alls with tax cuts and other goodies constantly trot out.” But no one who actually trotted out any such scenario was cited, much less quoted.

One of the things that provoke the left into bringing out the “trickle-down” bogeyman is any suggestion that there are limits to how high they can push tax rates on people with high incomes, without causing repercussions that hurt the economy as a whole.

But, contrary to Mayor de Blasio, this is not a view confined to people on the “far right.” Such liberal icons as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson likewise argued that tax rates can be so high that they have an adverse effect on the economy.

In his 1919 address to Congress, Woodrow Wilson warned that, at some point, “high rates of income and profits taxes discourage energy, remove the incentive to new enterprise, encourage extravagant expenditures, and produce industrial stagnation with consequent unemployment and other attendant evils.”

In a 1962 address to Congress, John F. Kennedy said, “it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

This was not a new idea. John Maynard Keynes said, back in 1933, that “taxation may be so high as to defeat its object,” that in the long run, a reduction of the tax rate “will run a better chance, than an increase, of balancing the budget.” And Keynes was not on “the far right” either.

[End of excerpt]

Now, it is fair to argue just what level of taxation begins to turn the curve the wrong way, but it is entirely disingenuous to assert that “lowering taxes to increase revenues” is just another dumb idea from the far right.

Insight from Thomas Sowell — on the Poor

8 Jul

I had written a blog entry about how the definitions of “poor” and “poverty” have become very gray as a result of all the “welfare” benefits being given out to people who qualify by some arbitrary definition.  However, Dr. Sowell came along and stated my case so much better than I was about to do.

Republished on “PA Pundits” blog from Dr. Thomas Sowell’s recent original column.

“Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are ‘the poor’? … ‘Poverty’ once had some concrete meaning — not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. … Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money. This kind of ‘poverty’ can easily become a way of life, not only for today’s ‘poor,’ but for their children and grandchildren. Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit ‘tax’ on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire. If increasing your income by $10,000 would cause you to lose $15,000 in government benefits, would you do it? In short, the political left’s welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty.” –economist Thomas Sowell

A Gem from Dr. Sowell

19 Mar

From the book, “Intellectuals and Race”, by Thomas Sowell, 2013

Excerpt:  [Bolding is mine; content in brackets [ ] is mine]

“Although economic and social inequalities among racial and ethnic groups have attracted much attention from intellectuals, seldom today has this attention been directed primarily toward how the less economically successful and less socially prestigious groups might improve themselves by availing themselves of the culture of others around them, so as to become more productive and compete more effectively with other groups in the economy. When David Hume urged his fellow eighteenth-century Scots to master the English language, as they did, both he and they were following a pattern very different from the pattern of most minority intellectuals and their respective groups in other countries around the world. The spectacular rise of the Scots in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – eventually surpassing the English in engineering and medicine, for example – was also an exception, rather than the rule. A much more common pattern has been one in which the intelligentsia have demanded an equality of economic outcomes and of social recognition, irrespective of the skills, behavior or performance of the group to which they belong or on whose behalf they spoke. In some countries today, any claim that intergroup differences in outcomes [result from differences in behavior or performance] are dismissed by the intelligentsia as false “perceptions,” “prejudices,” or “stereotypes,” or else are condemned as “blaming the victim.” Seldom are any of these assertions backed up by empirical evidence or logical analysis that would make them anything more than arbitrary assertions that happen to be in vogue among contemporary intellectual elites.”

[End of excerpt]

Most of you know that Thomas Sowell is a black conservative economist (a rare combination) who is unrelenting in his attempt to expose errors in the thinking of liberals when it comes to race relations.

Ben Franklin, on Welfare

16 Jan

“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766