“The UK only finished paying off its WWI debt in 2015, a hundred years later”

So the UK’s WWI debt was paid down only four years ago?  That’s right, Kimosabe.

Find the Tom Woods Show notes here.

“9/11 was used as an excuse to get involved in Iraq and take control of their tax base.  Now the tax base in Iraq, as well as its people as well as its natural resources, is oil.”  11:28-11:41.

Frisby mentions the 1942 Irving Berlin song sung by Gene Autry, “I Paid My Income Taxes Today.”  The song was written just two weeks after the bombing at Pearl Harbor on 12/7/41 and then published in 1942.  Helen Burggraf explains that

I paid My Income Tax Today, the copyright of which has been turned over to Secretary [Henry] Morgenthau, has just come off the presses as a companion piece to Berlin’s Any Bonds Today?,” the press release added, explaining that Berlin’s earlier song, about bonds, had been “written by request.” (This was a song about war bonds, not investment or savings bonds.)

William Pitt was the English prime minister of the Napoleonic wars.  He taxed dogs, horses, windows, glass, wigs, and wig powder.  Wig powder became so expensive that poor people could no longer afford it.  A group of people was opposed to the Napoleonic war stopped wearing wigs and started a whole new fashion of wearing our hair short.

American war for independence had to do with taxation.

Lesser-known areas that had to do with taxation.  Tax is power.  It is control.  If the kind loses control of tax revenue, they lose their power.  We tax labor heavily and assets much less.

Look through history, every single war was made possible by taxes.  Pyramids or the White House was built by taxes.  Slavery is 100% taxation.  Great Wall of China was built to keep tax revenue in.  The French Revolution.  The Russian Revolution.  The Philippine Revolution began with the Cry of Pugad Lawin in which he exhorted citizens to tear up their tax certificates.  Twin Towers were built with taxes.  Had Augustus Caesar not levied taxes, they never would have been in Bethlehem.

The Plague killed feudalism.   It killed the slaves.  There were fewer slaves to work, so their wages went up.

Books That Can Inoculate Our Children Against Socialism

Let’s start with a definition of socialism.  Kevin D. Williamson’s is as good as any other.  Laurence Reed cites Williamson’s July 2015 article, “The Whitest Privilege.”  Reed says that Williamson’s definition of socialism comes as close to explaining socialism-in-theory as he’s seen in a while:

Socialism and welfare-statism, like nationalism and racism, are based on appeals to solidarity—solidarity that is enforced at gunpoint, if necessary. That appeal is more than a decent-hearted concern for the downtrodden or the broad public good. It is, rather, an exclusionary solidarity, a superstitious notion that understands “body politic” not as a mere figure of speech but as a substantive description of the state and the people as a unitary organism, the health of which is of such paramount importance that individual rights—property, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of association—must be curtailed or eliminated when they are perceived to be insalubrious.

Reed adds that “The socialist countries that seem to work—like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—do so not because of the socialism they have but because of the capitalism they haven’t yet destroyed. Go full socialism and you get Venezuela. Or worse yet, North Korea.”  Now I introduce to you a list of books presented by Jeff Minick that can inoculate your loved ones from the siren of social justice or equality.  Instead, all that is required is respect of the other, not admiration per se but at least respect and an ounce of consideration demonstrated by reflection and questions that honor folks.

by Jeff Minick

at Intellectual Takeout

For the first time in our history, many politicians and candidates label themselves socialists, as if that title were a badge of honor. Many of their young constituents doubtless find something just and romantic in the idea of socialism. Some believe, too, that socialism would provide them with “free” education, “free” medical care, and in some cases, a guaranteed income.

To those of us who stand opposed to a government-controlled economy, this thinking seems at times infantile, and also dangerous. The bloody history and economic failures of socialism – here I include fascism – and of communism in the twentieth century should rebuff the starry-eyed.

And yet socialism is growing in its appeal.

So how do we combat that disease, other than in the voting booth?

Here is one small way to begin: education.

We start in our homes with our children. It doesn’t matter what schools they attend – public, private, or homeschools. Through reading and discussion in the home, we can teach our young people of all ages the evils of socialism. Below are just a few possibilities.

1. The Little Red Hen. This nursery room tale imparts the same lesson taught by Captain John Smith to the idlers of Jamestown: “He that will not work shall not eat.” We can aid the impoverished, the disabled, and the jobless among us, as we do now, without resorting to the evils of socialism. The Little Red Hen teaches the values of initiative and work.

2. The Children’s Story. In 1989, novelist James Clavell published this short, frightening tale of what might occur in an American classroom taken over by socialists. Given the current state of American education, many might argue that The Children’s Story has already occurred. Here is a good book for the family to share, a timely warning about the dangers of dictatorship in our modern age.

3.The Gods of the Copybook Headings. “Robbing selective Peter to pay for collective Paul:” So writes Rudyard Kipling in this poem. “Copybook headings” refers to certain morals or inspirational quotes printed at the top of a student’s copybook in the 19th century. The poem reminds us of the eternal verities, like 2+2=4. Socialism is not one of those truths.

4. Animal Farm. George Orwell’s classic rebuttal of Soviet Communism can be easily read and understood by middle-school students. In this allegory, Orwell demonstrates that the real beneficiaries of socialistic and communistic governments are the planners and bureaucrats. Like the Communists in Russia, the pigs in this novel become even worse oppressors than the farmer they drove away.

5. Tanstaafl. An acronym for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” probably coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. “What you get, you pay for,” Heinlein wrote. True in 1966 and true now.

6. I, Pencil. Leonard Read’s explanation of how an ordinary pencil comes into being and appears on store shelves remains a classic explanation of the workings of free enterprise and the “invisible hand” that brings our goods to market.

7. 1984. Back to George Orwell. Every high school student in our country should read 1984. Published in 1949 as Nineteen Eighty-Four, this novel introduced words like Big Brother, newspeak, and unperson. From Communist China’s “social credit” policy to our practice of political correctness in the digital age, we are fulfilling some of Orwell’s prophecies.

8. Darkness at Noon. Arthur Koestler’s masterpiece regarding the show trials under Stalin, a scenario we are currently reliving in the efforts to impeach Donald Trump. In this novel, Nikolai Rubashov, a revolutionary past his prime who has run afoul of the system, gets a bullet to the back of the head. Today we are more civilized. We dox those we dislike, de-platform them, or smear their reputations.

9. The Black Book of Communism. Here the authors dig into the “Crimes, Terror, and Repression” of Communist regimes in the twentieth century. From the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Communism worldwide has killed up to 100 million people and deprived millions more of basic human rights. Time to end that madness.

10. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism. Chapter Two of Kevin Williamson’s examination of collectivism is titled Yes, “Real Socialism” has Been Tried—And It has Failed. Yep. It has been tried in Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, and dozens of other countries, and always it has failed. Why on earth anyone wants to repeat the experiment here in America is unfathomable.

It’s time to bury socialism forever. Using these resources and others, we may yet reverse this move toward a failed ideology that increases poverty, represses freedom, and gives control of the economy and the government to a small set of elites.

Thanks to Paula Deist at Lew Rockwell.com.

I will add one other title to Minick’s list, the latest book by Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky and son of Ron Paul.  His book is titled The Case Against SocialismCheck out a selected list of chapter titles from the book:

Socialism Rewards Corruption
The Poor Are Better Off Under Capitalism
Bernie’s Socialism Also Includes Praise For Dictators
Today’s American Socialists Don’t Know What Socialism Means
Capitalism Makes Scandanavia Great
No, Bernie, Scandanavia is Not Socialist
American Scandanavians Have It Better Here
Hitler Was A Socialist
The Nazis Hated Capitalism
Socialism Promises Equality and Leads to Tyranny
Poetry Can Be Dangerous Under Socialism
It’s Not Socialism Without Purges
Freedom Is Not the Inevitable Outcome of History and Must Be Protected
If Socialists Can’t Find a Crisis, They Will Create One
Socialist Green New Deal Allows for No Dissent

Thanks to Robert Wenzel for that list.  And be sure to check out Wenzel’s comments on Paul’s book:

It exceeds any other recent books that have been written about socialism. It is the assassination of socialism.

The thoroughness of the coverage of current socialist topics and the depth of analysis is simply superior to any other modern-day book out there about socialism.

Every modern-day socialist advocate is discussed from Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to the economist Thomas Piketty.

Rand covers organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America to programs like the Green New Deal.

He destroys them all with facts, theory and history lessons in a breezy writing style that includes an occasional biting wit.

The United States is not a nation “under God.”

Laurence M. Vance leads with this

Pastors wouldn’t think of lying in church but today, the Sunday before Veterans Day, pastors all over the country are leading their churches in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. But the Pledge is a lie. The USA is not “one Nation under God.” To recite that line is to recite a lie, as I explained here.


Then proceeds to eloquently make his point why Christians should not pledge their allegiance to the flag or to the United States of America, and here is why.  Find his brief article here, but check out his damning indictment here: 

One reason why Christians should not recite the Pledge is a simple one, and one that has nothing to do with patriotism or religion. The United States is not a nation “under God.” The United States is in fact about as far from being “under God” as any country on the planet.

The United States leads the world in the incarceration rate, the total prison population, the divorce ratecar theftsrapestotal crimesillegal drug uselegal drug use, and Internet pornography production. At least the United States is second to Russia when it comes to abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion” and “twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” There are over 1,700 abortion providers in the United States. And even worse, 37 percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28 percent as Catholic. Only a madman would say that the United States is a nation “under God.” Oh, but the Pledge is just some words, some say, the reciting of which doesn’t really mean anything. Then why say it? If the Pledge is just some words that don’t really mean anything, then it makes more sense not to say it than to say it. The Pledge doesn’t say that the United States used to be one nation under God. It doesn’t say that the United States should be one nation under God. It says that the United States is one nation under God. That is a lie. Christians are not supposed to lie: Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:9) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25) Thou shalt not bear false witness (Romans 13:9) Is it unpatriotic to not say the Pledge? It may be. But it is certainly right, Christian, and biblical not to.


The Public Schools: America’s Churches

The Public Schools

Gary North – November 23, 2016

Challenge: Which institution would I de-fund 100%?

I would eliminate all funding for education, including all of the military academies.

Most people would probably choose a federal program to eliminate. I wouldn’t. I think all government begins with self-government, and then extends to three institutions: family, church, and state.

My slogan is “Politics fourth.”

Judicial sovereignty lies with the individual. Why? Because the individual is responsible for his own actions. If individuals do not govern themselves, there is not sufficient power anywhere else in society to force all men to do the right thing, or the predictable thing, or the sensible thing. The only reason why any institutional government works is because the vast majority of people under some governmental administration govern themselves on the basis of agreed-upon ethical and practical principles. In other words, if self-government breaks down, we are faced with either tyranny or chaos. Because people will not live in chaos, they will choose to submit to tyranny.

Second, I am a traditional conservative. I am therefore a disciple of Edmund Burke. I think most government in life is not political. I think most government has to do with voluntary associations, personal commitments on a face-to-face basis, and local organizations that deal with local problems.

Third, if I wanted to call myself a liberal, I would call myself a disciple of Alexis de Tocqueville, who took pretty much the same approach that Edmund Burke did when Tocqueville analyzed and described the American commonwealth of 1830.


I am convinced that the American public school system is a humanistic attempt to substitute the state for the church. This has certainly been the case in American history. Massachusetts was the last state to get rid of tax-funded churches, which it did in 1833. Four years later, it created the state Board of Education and began pursuing the tax funding of primary education.

The main goal of the Yankees in 1837 was essentially the goal of the Puritans in 1642, namely, to create the city on a hill that would serve as an operational model for the rest of the world. The Yankees were driven by the lust for money, social position, and political power, whereas the Puritans were driven by the fear of God and the conviction that men if left to their own devices, would run to sin and destruction with all deliberate speed. The Puritans wanted to achieve a decent society by means of controlling the impulses of sinful men. The Yankees wanted to achieve a decent society by not only controlling the impulses of sin but also by promoting righteous causes by means of state funding. The public school system was the first great Yankee experiment in this regard.

There were always opponents of the Yankees, but, region by region, state by state, county by county, municipality by municipality, they all adopted the Yankees’ central institution, the public school system. By hook or by crook — and in the case of the Civil War, by means of military conquest — the Yankees exported the public school system, and then, in alliance with New York City publishers, took over the production of textbooks that would be used to reshape the rest of the country along Yankee lines. New York publishers were in it for the money. The Yankees were in it for the reform possibilities. Of course, Yankee authors were always happy to get book royalties for their textbooks. They were content to let the New York publishers keep 90% of the revenues.

If you look at the history of textbook production, begin with the place of publication. You probably won’t know the names of the publishing houses, beginning in the 19th century, but you will recognize the cities. The cities are these: New York and Boston. This was not random. Also, it has not changed much over the years. You don’t see major textbook publishing houses located in Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, or Denver. Maybe an occasional Los Angeles or Chicago firm sneaks in.

The public school system from day one has been run by Boston and New York. Educators earn their Ph.D. degrees from Harvard or Columbia. Columbia has the most influential of all the graduate programs in education. This has been true for over a century. Columbia Teachers College has been by far the most important training institution for public school teachers from the end of the 19th century until today. Its USP (unique selling proposition) is straightforward:

Teachers College, Columbia University is the first and largest graduate school of education in the United States and is also perennially ranked among the nation’s best. Its name notwithstanding, the College is committed to a vision of education writ large, encompassing our four core areas of expertise: health, education, leadership, and psychology.

The key figure was John Dewey. He taught at Columbia University. He set the pattern for Columbia Teachers College. Wikipedia correctly describes his position:

Known for his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements–schools and civil society–to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.

We are also informed of the following: “From 1904 until his retirement in 1930 he was professor of philosophy at both Columbia University and Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 1905 he became president of the American Philosophical Association. He was a longtime member of the American Federation of Teachers.”

For anybody who wants to understand the history of American education, there are three authors to consider. One, Lawrence Cremin, is almost universally regarded by the academic community as the official expert in the history of American education. His books will give you the names and places. Second, you would be wise to read R. J. Rushdoony’s book, The Messianic Character American Education. It takes you through the writings of the two dozen founders of American progressive education. The title tells all: the public school system was the humanists’ self-conscious replacement of the churches. The third, written by one of the great public school teachers in modern times, John Taylor Gatto, is titled The Underground History of American Education. Gatto quit teaching in the public schools of New York City after he had won teacher of the year three times. His book shows you why American manufacturers wanted to control the public schools.

Americans think it astounding that people in Massachusetts in 1832 and people in Connecticut in 1815 still believed that tax money should be used to subsidize local Congregational churches. Yet the vast majority of Americans do not blink an eye at the idea that tax money should be used to fund the institution that correctly has been identified as America’s only established church. This is what Rushdoony called it in 1963, and this is what liberal historian Sidney Mead also called it in 1963 in his book, The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America. But the churches only really shaped the thinking of the public on Sundays, and only for a few hours. Attendance was not compulsory. The modern humanist state has established its church, and attendance is compulsory in most cases, five days a week, eight hours a day. They even send out yellow buses to bring the parishioners’ children into the churches. 

Continue reading the rest of the article here.

Reprinted here with expressed written permission from Dr. Gary North.

The Triumph of Progressivism

This was excellent. 

Via Steve Bartin

1. American foreign policy drives domestic policy.  Foreign policy comes from the CIA.
2. John Dewey is the father of Progressive education as seen by the entrenched topics of feminism, Marxism, and environmentalism in the classroom in place of genuine history and science. 

American foreign policy drives domestic policy.  Foreign policy comes from the CIA.  Progressives won through education.  Think about all the ways that Americans view society through progressivism.  That view was formed by progressive education, i.e., public and private schools.  They’re open about their indoctrination.  “Our job,” they say “is to get people to think like us.”  This is how they view society: education and the state are Gods.  In the play, You Can’t Take It With You, there’s a line that reads, “God is the state, the state is God.”  This is certainly how progressives think.  Social-gospellers want to use the government to usher in the kingdom of heaven.  So they’re going to have social legislation, like the “”War on Drugs,” “The war on Alcohol,” so they’re going to try to use the state to do those things and the central authority more importantly to achieve their aims.  “The War on Sin,” and there’s going to be legislation to do that.  Legislation is where progressivism wins.  But certainly, education is the key to all of this getting passed.  One of the most important figures in this progressive education is John Dewey.  McClanahan wrote about Dewey in his Politically Incorrect Guide to American Heroes, 2012. 

I believe that the teachers engage, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.  I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling, that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social path.  I believe that in this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usher in of the true kingdom of God.  –John Dewey

Dewey again

I believe that the true center of correlation on the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history nor geography but the child’s own social activities. 

MCCLANAHAN:  You hear this a lot when you start talking about how kids get socialized.  Parents take a back seat.  The school becomes the center.  Dewey actually calls schools laboratories.  Social Justice Warriors are all about socializing kids, how do we say the right things around people, how do we make sure that people won’t feel bad, how do we create a situation where everybody wins, where everybody earns a trophy? This is all the result of Dewey’s social crusade through education.  This is the proper role of education in the Progressives’ mind.  This is why education is key.  They’ve figured out that a 5-year-old is a young mind of mush.  Get them to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which is a socialist pledge and they’ll believe it the rest of their lives.  They will say it for the rest of their lives, and they’re not even thinking about it.  They’ll say you’re not American if you don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance.  If you say anything that hurt somebody’s feelings, well, you’ve just committed a social crime.  This is where we get into thought police; this is Orwell, pointing it out in 1948.  Progressives have won, and it’s because of education.  

I say naturally, Dewey was a committed proponent of the professionalization and indoctrination of teachers through teacher education.  What Americans used to call teacher’s colleges are today integrated into practically every university in America.  Educators complete dozens of credit hours in education courses where they learn less about the subject matter they will be teaching than about educational theory, the type of theory that John Dewey pushed on his eager graduate students.  These courses are more indoctrination than education, It’s only worse for advanced degrees.  Often graduate students obtain a Master’s degree or Doctorate in Education take few, if any courses, outside of Education.  [What a stifling course in life that would be.] 

From his 2012 book, Politically Incorrect Guide to American Heroes, McClanahan reads,

For future living, it was itself a “process of living.”  __________ knew that schools could become the ideal breeding ground for progressive ideas.  And so they have been.  Ever since the progressive movement got control of them just consider the inroads that feminism, Marxism, and environmentalism have made on the traditional history and science curriculum.  One of Dewey’s disciples, George Counts, went so far as to advocate a new social order built by the public school system. 

And finally, the coup de grace. 

Dewey railed against teacher-directed learning, traditional and authoritarian he believed.  Dewey’s case for child-centered instruction has given rise to group projects, focusing on hands-on learning, the abandonment of traditional rote memorization, the relentless emphasis on social skills, social interaction, and social responsibility, the loss of a healthy competitive environment, the proliferation of activities for building self-esteem, and the gradual eradication of the content of the traditional American education curriculum.  Everything in history then that includes dates to math where the students actually learn to figure compound interest, Dewey is the culprit behind the dumb-downed education and the scandalous promotion of failing students in public schools.  Children left to direct their own education will naturally gravitate toward easier work, less challenging questions, and fewer memorization exercises.  They want less bang for the buck.  Dewey’s made it possible to get just that from our schools. 

Other books mentioned in this podcast:

Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow, 1920-1935, Edward Mandell House, 1912.

Politically Incorrect Guide to American Heroes, Brion McClanahan, 2012.

“wealth inequality is a very poor measure of unfairness in our society.”

via Robert Wenzel at Economic Policy Journal.

Candidates’ Wealth Tax Proposals Demonstrate Spooky Economic Ignorance 

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, wealth-haters

by Veronique de Rugy

It’s open season on wealth and those who create it. Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination like Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, say that “Billionaires should not exist” and the wealth disparity in America is “a moral and economic outrage.” California businessman Tom Steyer — who happens to be a billionaire — says that “Senator Sanders is right,” while Sen. Elizabeth Warren laments the “extreme concentration of wealth” in America.

They all call for both a wealth tax and a massive increase in government spending in order to fix this inequality and restore “social justice” in America. In doing so, they demonstrate how little they understand economics.

For starters, wealth inequality is a very poor measure of unfairness in our society. Speaking at the Peterson Institute recently, economist and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers correctly made the case that a change in wealth inequality would have little impact on the concentration of political power.

Reducing inequality is also a poor means to fix whatever these candidates think ails America. In a 2013 paper published by the Brookings Institution, economist Scott Winship reviewed claims made about inequality and their negative impact on various aspects of our lives. In a summary of that paper for National Affairs, he writes that there’s “little basis for thinking that inequality is at the root of our economic challenges, and therefore for believing that reducing inequality would meaningfully address our lagging growth, enable greater mobility, avert future financial crises, or secure America’s democratic institutions.”

A forthcoming paper by Cato Institute scholars Chris Edwards and Ryan Bourne confirms Winship’s and Summers’ findings. They also thoroughly debunk the claim that a more progressive welfare state is imperative to reduce wealth inequality. The truth is that more often than not, increases in welfare spending reduce the need for savings and cause wealth inequality to increase as a result. As Bourne writes at Cato: “Evidence from both here and abroad shows major social programs, not least Social Security, increase measured wealth inequality because they leave the non-rich with ‘proportionately less to save, less reason to save, and a larger share of their old-age resources in a nonbequeathable form than the lifetime rich.’ Economists Baris Kaymak and Markus Poschke estimate that the expansion of Social Security and Medicare caused about one-quarter of the rise in the top one percent wealth share over recent decades.”

How about a wealth tax? Depending on its design, it could certainly hurt wealth accumulation. However, the negative impact of the wealth tax wouldn’t be concentrated on wealthy people. Everyone, regardless of their income and wealth level, would take a hit. That’s because, contrary to what American progressives believe, most wealth isn’t devoted to extravagant consumption. Instead, it’s invested in companies; it’s used to fund research and development that will create better goods and services for consumers; it serves as the capital that innovators and producers borrow from banks to grow their businesses. In other words, most wealth is used to fuel other wealth-producing activities that improve well-being.

So whether a wealth tax will create a real disincentive to accumulate capital or force rich taxpayers to send a larger share of their money to the IRS, less capital will be available for everyone in the economy to use for their own businesses and training. That means that many Americans beyond the super-wealthy will get burned by the tax.

This negative consequence is a reason why so many countries that had wealth taxes in the 1990s have since abandoned them. The cost of implementing a wealth tax and annually assessing assets often costs more than the tax actually raises in revenue. In France, for instance, the administration cost was double the revenue raised. As such, it’s not surprising that the country dropped its wealth tax in 2018.

It may feel good for some candidates to bash wealth accumulation and threaten to use taxes to punish the very rich. It may also feel good to call for more spending as a means of reducing inequality. While neither of these policies would do much to achieve those goals, calling for such policies goes a long way toward demonstrating economic ignorance and an ugly dislike for a group of people by candidates who would use their power to destroy those they despise. That should scare all of us greatly.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. To find out more about Veronique de Rugy and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

“Relative poverty can never be solved.”

I see too many calls to “end poverty” without ever a definition or a measurement of poverty, what exactly it is, who might be responsible for it, or how it is compared to previous decades or generations to get an accurate assessment of it.  This morning I read the comment by Jimmy Joe Meeker in response to Amity Shlaes’s new book, Great Society: A New History featured in a post by Robert Wenzel at EPJ, titled “The Truth About LBJ’s Great Society.”  Meeker’s comment reads

“an end to poverty” … “Yet the targets of our idealism proved elusive”

That is because it is impossible to end poverty. Poverty is politically defined as some portion of the distribution. This portion will always be there. There will always be some people on the tail end of the distribution. That tail end could be made to be the living standards of the very wealthy of 1960 but we would still hear about how we need to end poverty. What poverty was in 1930 has for all practical purposes been ended but we still hear about it because the definition is relative.

Furthermore, some people will put themselves into poverty despite any and all efforts.

The free market can only solve absolute poverty, not relative poverty and nothing can ultimately protect people from themselves and their own decisions. The only mitigation there is education, social pressure, or simply force.

Relative poverty can never be solved. The free market can drive the prices of goods and services very low such that the poor can afford nearly everything they once couldn’t but they will still have less than other people. Envy and virtue will still drive the politics.

Find additional comments on the book and LBJ’s Great Society at Wenzel’s Economic Policy Journal.