It's not about improving the poor but bashing the rich
Posted by aogThursday, 05 February 2004 at 08:23 TrackBack Ping URL

I’ve been meaning to rip on this post by Oliver Willis on a recent Heritage Foundation study on the state of those in poverty in the USA. The study notes that being poor is not as bad as many have thought. Willis takes this as a statement that it’s good to be poor. It’s certainly a typical response from the Left to any improvement in any social condition - it’s not yet perfect therefore it’s the same as it ever was. It is apparently pure evil to ever note any improvement short of perfection. In order to make even that exaggeration stick, Willis had to rewrite the actual statement from the study that he quotes.

But I found some of the comments more interesting. My favorite was the one that labeled “fair and equitable taxation” as a basic need. I used to think it was things like food and clothes, but clearly I’m still stuck in old school thought. One wonders what that actually means. Truely equitable would be every one pays the same amount of tax, but I somehow doubt that’s what was meant.

On the other hand, there was the complaint that it wasn’t reasonable to look at material possessions like DVD players because those had gotten much cheaper over the last few years. How did they get better and cheaper? Apparently that “just happens” - certainly it couldn’t be an effect of our economic system! It’s a clever (or oblivious) way of discounting the primary benefit of capitalism, that the goods of life get cheaper and better over time, thereby improving the lives of the poor.

There was also the standard lauding of Cuba, where even the middle class lives in conditions far worse than our poor (as if anyone not in the political elite in Cuba can afford a DVD player, assuming it was legal to own one). I suppose that’s why we see waves of American poor casting off the Florida coast to get to the worker’s paradise of Cuba.

I’d suggest they read The End of Equality by Mickey Kaus, which is a discussion of the moral bankruptcy of looking only at income (‘money equality’) for the poor rather than the quality of their lives.