A thoughtful balanced essay on poverty in the United States, by Megan McArdle: The consumption of the poor is much higher than their incomes. Is poverty falling, or not?
From Boston Review, the article speaks of “the invisible hand in action, and it provides the social promise of Smith’s work. But that promise is underwritten by a desire that is always morally suspect. Envy, the primal ache of inequality, motivates the merchant and pickpocket alike. Both pursue their own medicine, and Smith’s challenge is to convince us why only one remedy should be broadly prescribed.” (italics mine)
The Tragedy of American Compassion (1992), by Marvin Olasky
Dr. Marvin Olasky’s book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, is a concise historical analysis of how poverty was handled in the U.S. from colonial America of the 17th century to the 1990’s with recommendations for the future. Supporters said the book was a key work in defining “compassionate conservatism” as it relates to welfare and social policy and it had a significant impact on the Clinton welfare reforms. In it, Olasky argues that care for the poor must be the responsibility of private individuals and organizations, particularly the Christian church, instead of government programs like welfare—a great annoyance to progressives (Christian and Christophobic alike) enamored with expansive entitlement schemes. He suggests that government “programs are ineffective because they are disconnected from the poor, while private charity has the power to change lives because it allows for a personal connection between the giver and the recipient.” A recap is instructive; and I have added pertinent comments and bold quotes here and there.
For a more detailed presentation on economic growth, poverty, means, goals, and sword swallowing, see Hans Roslings’ new insights on poverty; or read the transcript below. To get the full effect, watching the video is a must:
I am not familiar with the subject of the piece, Paul Goodman, probably because I was not interested in “a bisexualist, a poverty cultist, an anarchist,” as William Buckley once introduced Mr. Goodman, or a self-described “man of letters,” or the “new left” way back in ancient times…although I did read some Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the 1960s. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention and simply missed him.
The article is revealing; and I latched on to three central ideas: (1) his rebellion against the necessity of “socialization” to the “establishment consensus,” which could be interpreted any number of ways in 2010; (2) his dislike of bureaucracy, and what he called “acquiescence to the social machine;” and (3) “his refusal to trust any party when it came to waging war or safeguarding civil liberties….” Hmmm.
In the days of early television, Mike Wallace interviewed a number of culturally and politically important characters. The video and transcript of his fifty-three year-old discussion with Margaret Sanger, the founder of the Birth Control Movement, can be found here. While Wallace pressed her regarding apparent contradictions in her statements, and asked about her views of the Catholic church, which she ducked, he neglected to question her regarding charges of racism and her position on eugenics (that is, her position before the National Socialists gave it a bad name).
One fascinating aspect of this interview is the promotion Wallace gives to Phillip Morris cigarettes early on—it’s quirky by today’s standards. Near the end, Ms. Sanger states: “And Mr. Wallace, I’ve never smoked, but I’m going to begin and take up smoking and use Philip Morris as my…as the cigarette for me to take.” I wonder if she did?