Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Libertarianism and Poverty

What is the fundamental cause of poverty? What is the record of government programs in ameliorating the pathology of poverty? These are two key questions discussed by Arnold King. He indicates that governments have had a mixed record in alleviating poverty and that government programs persist not because they are effective in addressing social programs but because they develop political constituencies.

Indeed, in his book It's O.K. to leave the plantation, Mason Weaver went so far as to suggest the primary purpose of most government programs is to induce a dependency that necessitates that program's further expansion and thus provides a continued justification for the government providing that "service".

Perhaps, as King suggests we "can do better with less government and more decentralized programs to address poverty" and he outlines what a libertarian approach to poverty would embrace.

The biggest problem is separating people from the self-fulfilling notion that only government has the capacity to address poverty. And at the heart of that construct are people's beliefs about governance and the nature of capitalism.

As Churchill stated the "inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries".