Thomas Sowell: The left's twisted agenda to help the poor
Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are "the poor"?
Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit "tax" on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire.
In short, the political left's welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty. Unless we believe that some people are predestined to be poor, the left's agenda is a disservice to them, as well as to society. The vast amounts of money wasted are by no means the worst of it.
Millions of "overseas Chinese" emigrated from China destitute and often illiterate in centuries past. Whether they settled in Southeast Asian countries or in the United States, they began at the bottom, taking hard, dirty and sometimes dangerous jobs.
Variations on this social pattern can be found in the histories of Jewish, Armenian, Lebanese and other emigrants who settled in many countries around the world — initially poor, but rising over the generations to prosperity. Seldom did they rely on government, and they usually avoided politics on their way up.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
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