Monday, July 30, 2007

More on Poverty

A follow-up on my previous post (I'm catching up on my reading at the Acton Institute): Presidential candidate John "$400 haircut" Edwards is preaching envy and resentment to any who will listen in the poorest parts of America. But according to the AP, even the Appalachians are skeptical of Edwards' poverty tour.

We have long thought of the Appalachians as a place of hard-core poverty. But
much has improved here. Four-lane highways have opened communities to retailers and chain restaurants and, thus, more jobs. Regional hospitals have put health care within reach. Community colleges have expanded into the mountains, making higher education affordable.
mobile homes built shortly after [Robert] Kennedy's [1968] visit are now rusting and inadequate. People in remote hollows still await water lines. Many feel chained to coal mining - a fluctuating industry that's left many jobless due to mechanization.
What is the cure for this kind of poverty?
What is the cure for people who are living in the same mobile home they lived in in 1968?
What is the cure for people who choose to live in remote hollows with no piped-in water?
What is the cure for people who "feel chained" to coal mining?

Is the answer atheistic socialism (by which I mean, the U.S. federal government as it is today)? A heavy tax on the wealthy, buttressed by threats of imprisonment with sociopaths, with dollars absorbed by bureaucrats and pennies for the poor?
Is the answer Soviet socialism (the kind that allegedly collapsed 30 years ago) or a violent socialist revolution?
Is the answer a ban on machines? Think of the countless unemployed that could be given jobs with shovels!

All of America was at the same economic level as the worst of the Appalachians in 1776. But America became wealthy.

The difference between America in 1776 and Appalachia in 1968 was moral and spiritual.

That means the problem is largely one of perspective. After all, some wealthy people dream of having the time to get away from "the rat-race" and spend a week hunting, fishing, and drinking well water in a remote mountain hollow.

What socialists and "liberal do-gooders" won't face is that it is capitalism that makes such vacations possible for ever-larger numbers of people, and poverty can't be permanently cured without cultivating a desire for wealth, which Americans had in 1776, an expression of what some call "the Protestant work ethic."

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