I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about economic policies.  As is often the case when it comes to economic discussions, I have little patience for flawed social arguments for bad economic policies, so the conversation went nowhere.

Edwards is a great example…he has asked the current Democratic Presidential contenders to push to “end poverty.”  There are a lot of ways one can reduce poverty, but end it?  (I think I even own a book called “Free Enterprise without Poverty” but I haven’t read it yet.)  I’ll ask the economically-minded (and non economically-minded) to answer me this one question:

Is it a good idea to COMPLETELY eliminate poverty?

Ending poverty
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3 thoughts on “Ending poverty

  • My apologies for stating the obvious, but poverty is complicated. Even defining it is a constant source of debate. There’s an absolute poverty definition which goes something like this:
    “the condition of lacking full economic access to fundamental human needs such as food, shelter and safe drinking water”
    Then, there’s relative poverty, which goes something like this: “having significantly less access to income and wealth than other members of society” or, the EU’s definition, “an income below 60% of the national median equalized disposable income after social transfers for a comparable household”

    Of course the elimination of poverty is a good idea, morally. People not having their basic needs met is bad. Will it ever happen, regardless of the level of goverment intervention? Absolutely not. There is no government answer to this that doesn’t cause more problems than it remedies. I know, Edwards want to double the minimum wage so everyone makes big money. Problem solved. Hell, let’s send everyone a coupon for a new Cadillac. John, if it were only that simple…

  • Is that really the European definition of poverty? You’re almost guaranteed not to “eliminate” it with a definition like that.

    I think it is possible to ALMOST eliminate it given the first definition, but almost by definition, the Fed is the last organization to go to in order to effectively do that.

    As far as doubling the minimum wage as a solution; the reason that’s ridiculous is because it changes the argument to saying that the definition of poverty should be broadened because the minimum wage is not a “living wage.”

    Anyway, I think the first definition SHOULD be the definition, and thus a conversation can be had about it.

  • Yes, I agree that poverty in the U.S., based on the first definition, can be almost eliminated. The government has their role, and that is sound economic and monetary policy. But individuals have their role too. I think that a lot of times the middle and upper classes forget that money might be better spent on helping those less fortunate than buying the “latest and best”. I am definitely guilty of this, so I’m not preaching.

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