Sunday, August 1, 2010

Poverty of Dollars is Largely a Statistical Creation. Poverty of Spirit is Real.

Walter Williams of the Jewish World Review makes a powerful argument that poverty as applicable worldwide is almost absent in the US. He says:

"Material poverty can be measured relatively or absolutely. An absolute measure would consist of some minimum quantity of goods and services deemed adequate for a baseline level of survival. Achieving that level means that poverty has been eliminated. However, if poverty is defined as, say, the lowest one-fifth of the income distribution, it is impossible to eliminate poverty. Everyone's income could double, triple and quadruple, but there will always be the lowest one-fifth."

The real malaise in the U.S. is poverty of the spirit which leads to many ills in our
modern society:

"Yesterday's material poverty is all but gone. In all too many cases, it has been replaced by a more debilitating kind of poverty — behavioral poverty or poverty of the spirit. This kind of poverty refers to conduct and values that prevent the development of healthy families, work ethic and self-sufficiency. The absence of these values virtually guarantees pathological lifestyles that include: drug and alcohol addiction, crime, violence, incarceration, illegitimacy, single-parent households, dependency and erosion of work ethic. Poverty of the spirit is a direct result of the perverse incentives created by some of our efforts to address material poverty."

Read his full article "Where Best to Be Poor" for a fuller argument why material poverty is almost largely absent in the U.S.

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