ON POVERTY

"By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some....The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose."

John Maynard Keynes
Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920

In a line that truly justifies his Pulitzer Prize, Paul Greenberg told his readers last week that "the trouble with the left is that it has come to see its basic constituency as the poor, and is determined to enlarge and solidify its constituency."

One need only look to those things the left holds as "sacred cows" to grasp Greenberg's point. Medicare and Medicaid, those greatest programs of what was to be a Great Society, more than doubled the cost of every medical service in America within three years of passage, forcing more and more Americans onto the dole and rocking the greatest health-care system on Earth to its foundations. The Social Security trust fund, always a Ponzi scam, became a complete and total fraud as the Johnson Administration began to use it to hide the true federal budget numbers and thus produce a sham surplus for fiscal year 1969 (a fraud continued by every administration since).

Welfare programs such as AFDC spawned a hopeless cycle of dependency and illegitimacy. Abortion became birth control, and sex became free, and we all became hardened to integrity and vows and even the preciousness of life. And in all of this, government kept growing, enabling the depravity, sucking ever greater shares of income from the productive -- and even the productive poor -- so as to supplant those institutions which could really help, and create new ones which merely fed on the ruined lives it spawned.

The "War on Poverty" was certainly a war, but not of the sort it claimed. It was a war of interests: the special interests of the bureaucrats, versus the general interest of the people. It was a war of economic theories: the theory that the state can and must engineer society, versus the theory that man left alone, acting in his own self-interest, will best create wealth and escape poverty. It was a war of moralities: the "morality" that says man is basically good and can be "educated" into "perfection," versus the morality that says man is born in original sin, and that he will take advantage of foolish "help" so as to fall into corruption and depravity.

And on the most fundamental level of all, it was a war of gods: the Marxist/Leninist/Keynesian god of the omni-competent state, versus the true God whose predictable blessings and curses fall on those who obey or ignore His wisdom and law.

We have ignored Him. And the poor have paid, as have we all.

No more. The line must be drawn here: this far, no farther. A new war on poverty must be declared. And this time it must be won.

It must start with honesty and fairness in taxation: a low flat tax with an abolition of withholding. The flat tax will eliminate the loopholes, eliminate the incomprehensible tax code and its consequent army of lawyers and accountants, and eliminate the class warfare which inevitably results from a Marxian "redistribution of wealth." The flat tax will also allow every American to calculate in his head exactly what he owes and exactly what every new program will cost him. The abolition of withholding -- every American will actually have to write a check to the IRS each month -- will mean that Americans are acutely aware of what they are paying. They will not like this. And they will dismantle big government as a result.

The new war on poverty must privatize Social Security. We cannot tolerate the impoverishment of the old when compound interest could make every American retire rich. The most conservative numbers show that, if every American could invest what Social Security now takes, most would retire on almost double their salary, after inflation. Moreover, privatization would release a net present value $20 TRILLION into the economy, representing an annual GDP growth rate of 8%. This alone represents a level of wealth-creation which would eliminate poverty in America in a generation.

But most important of all, this new war on poverty must recognize the truth: America's poverty is more spiritual than material. Its underclass is intractable because of the legacy of broken homes and sinful lives. Its children kill each other because they are barbarians, and its parents are helpless to stop them because they are compromised themselves. No amount of money will save them. No amount of aid will work a cure.

But we can begin to change America by tearing down the idol of government which has debased them, taking both their wealth and their dignity. And as the new order we create gives them new hope and better incentives, we can slowly, patiently teach them again the more basic truths they've lost.


Copyright: Rod D. Martin, 23 October 1998

Send comments and links to Rod.Martin@TheVanguard.org.

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