By Jacob G. Hornberger www.fff.org/index.htm
Liberals say that they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, however, the economic philosophy that liberals favor constitutes a direct assault on the economic well-being of the poor, along with nearly everyone else in society.
Liberals claim to combat poverty in two principal ways.
First, they use the force of government (e.g., income taxes) to take money from those who have earned it in order to give it to the poor.
Second, they restrict people’s use of their property to enable the poor to have access to such property.
What liberals fail to understand, however, is that the very means they choose to combat poverty — socialism and interventionism — actually exacerbate the problem that they claim to address. Their war on poverty hurts the very people they say they are trying to assist.
In proposing welfare-state programs, by necessity liberals always make an important assumption. They assume that there is wealth in society. After all, if there is no wealth then what good would welfare-state policies do? The welfare state operates on the assumption that there are people who are earning wealth or have accumulated wealth. Those are the people from whom the government takes money in order to redistribute it to the poor.
In proposing their array of welfare programs to help the poor, liberals operate under the mindless assumption that wealth exists naturally in a society. Even worse, they give nary a thought to the possibility that a society in which wealth is growing is the greatest benefit to the poor. Worst of all, they don’t consider the distinct possibility that their own tax-and-redistribute policies tend toward destroying the base of wealth in society, thereby relegating everyone to poverty.
The only reason that the U.S. standard of living continued rising during the era of American socialism was that the private sector continued accumulating savings and wealth faster than federal officials were confiscating it. The invention of computers, for example, almost immediately made workers much more productive.
But it is impossible to say how much more productive Americans would be — how much higher our standards of living would be — if the wealth-producing process that our American ancestors had brought into existence had been free to continue. If Americans had never adopted the income tax and the welfare state, it boggles the mind to think how much better off the American people would be, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder.