Just an observation in reading through this thread - I think Mumbo, BR, and tonton wanted MJ to post his thoughts first so they could attack him, spew their usual hateful rhetoric, and attempted to derail the thread.
Interestingly enough, when he refused to play their game they...attacked him, spewed their usual hateful rhetoric, and attempted to derail the thread. Fascinating.
And now, to the topic at hand, which I think is extremely important.What is poverty?
It depends on who you ask, but I define poverty as the inability to provide the basic necessities of life for your family.
The basic necessities of life include food, clothing, and shelter. They do not include DVD players, cable TVs, or computers.What are the key issues and problems?
Obviously, one of the key challenges in the United States is accurately defining what poverty is. Government has a vested interest in exaggerating the numbers of people in "poverty" so that it can perpetuate and grow itself through more taxation and establishing more programs to "fight" poverty.
I lived in Brazil for 2 years. From first-hand experience, I can tell you that the vast majority of people considered to be living in "poverty" here would be considered upper-middle class or even wealthy by most Brazilians.
When you're living in a house made of scrap wood and metal with a dirt floor, no indoor plumbing, no insulation, and no idea where you're going to get food to feed your family tomorrow, THAT's poverty.What are the best ways to help?
I tend to agree with Benjamin Franklin on this one.
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." -- Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1776
In other words, welfare assistance should be temporary and provide real incentive and encouragement for the individual to become self sufficient.What are the worst ways to help?
Just giving the individual support with no clearly defined expectations or incentives for them to become self sufficient creates dependency. When the support runs out, you're back where you started.What things are currently working?
Murray N. Rothbard wrote about welfare and the welfare state at length in his book For a New Liberty
Among other groups, he specifically praises the efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) in providing welfare assistance to the poor and needy.
A highly successful private welfare program in the present-day is the one conducted by the ... Mormon Church. This remarkable people, hounded by poverty and persecution, emigrated to Utah and nearby states in the nineteenth century, and by thrift and hard work raised themselves to a general level of prosperity and affluence. Very few Mormons are on welfare; Mormons are taught to be independent, self-reliant, and to shun the public dole. Mormons are devout believers and have therefore successfully internalized these admirable values. Furthermore, the Mormon Church operates an extensive private welfare plan for its members based, again, on the principle of helping their members toward independence as rapidly as possible.
Note, for example, the following principles from the "Welfare Plan" of the Mormon Church. "Ever since its organization in 1830, the Church has encouraged its members to establish and maintain their economic independence; it has encouraged thrift and fostered the establishment of employment-creating industries; it has stood ready at all times to help needy faithful members." In 1936, the Mormon Church developed a "Church Welfare Plan, . . . a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership." Mormon social workers in the program are instructed to act accordingly: "Faithful to this principle, welfare workers will earnestly teach and urge Church members to be self-sustaining to the full extent of their powers. No true Latter-Day Saint will, while physically able, voluntarily shift from himself the burden of his own support. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Almighty and with his own labors, he will supply himself with the necessities of life." The immediate objectives of the welfare program are to: "1. Place in gainful employment those who are able to work. 2. Provide employment within the Welfare Program, in so far as possible, for those who cannot be placed in gainful employment. 3. Acquire the means with which to supply the needy, for whom the Church assumes responsibility, with the necessities of life." Insofar as possible, this program is carried on in small, decentralized, grass-roots groups: "Families, neighbors, quorums and wards and other Church organizational units may find it wise and desirable to form small groups for extending mutual help one to the other. Such groups may plant and harvest crops, process foods, store food, clothing and fuel, and carry out other projects for their mutual benefit."
Specifically, the Mormon bishops and priesthood quorums are enjoined to aid their brethren to self-help: "In his temporal administrations the bishop looks at every able-bodied needy person as a purely temporary problem, caring for him until he can help himself. The priesthood quorum must look at its needy member as a continuing problem until not alone his temporal needs are met but his spiritual ones also. As a concrete example a bishop extends help while the artisan or craftsman is out of work and in want; a priesthood quorum assists in establishing him in work and tries to see that he becomes fully self-supporting and active in his priesthood duties." Concrete rehabilitation activities for needy members enjoined upon the priesthood quorums include: "1. Placing quorum members and members of their families in permanent jobs. In some instances through trade school training, apprenticeships, and in other ways, quorums have assisted their quorum members to qualify themselves for better jobs. 2. Assisting quorum members and their families to get established in businesses of their own . . . ."
The prime objective of the Mormon Church is to find jobs for their needy. To this end, "The finding of suitable jobs, under the Welfare Program, is a major responsibility of priesthood quorum members. They and members of the Relief Society should be constantly on the alert for employment opportunities. If every member of the ward welfare committee does well his or her work in this respect, most of the unemployed will be placed in gainful employment at the group or ward level." Other members are rehabilitated as self-employed, the church may aid with a small loan, and the member's priesthood quorum may guarantee repayment from its funds. Those Mormons who cannot be placed in jobs or rehabilitated as self-employed "are to be given, in so far as possible, work at productive labor on Church properties . . . ." The Church is insistent on work by the recipient as far as possible: "It is imperative that people being sustained through the bishops storehouse program work to the extent of their ability, thus earning what they receive . . . . Work of an individual on welfare projects should be considered as temporary rather than permanent employment. It should nevertheless continue so long as assistance is rendered to the individual through the bishops storehouse program. In this way the spiritual welfare of people will be served as their temporal needs are supplied. Feelings of diffidence will be removed . . . ." Failing other work, the bishop may assign welfare recipients to aid individual members who are in need of help, the aided members reimbursing the Church at prevailing wage rates. In general, in return for their assistance, the welfare recipients are expected to make whatever contributions they can to the Church welfare program, either in funds, produce, or by their labor.
Complementary to this comprehensive system of private aid on the principle of fostering independence, the Mormon Church sternly discourages its members from going on public welfare. "It is requested that local Church officers stress the importance of each individual, each family and each Church community becoming self-sustaining and independent of public relief." And: "To seek and accept direct public relief all too often invites the curse of idleness and fosters the other evils of dole. It destroys one's independence, industry, thrift and self-respect."15
There is no finer model than the Mormon Church for a private, voluntary, rational, individualistic welfare program. Let government welfare be abolished, and one would expect that numerous such programs for rational mutual aid would spring up throughout the country.
The inspiring example of the Mormon Church is a demonstration that the major determinant of who or how many people go on public welfare is their cultural and moral values rather than their level of income.
This is just one of many examples of how private organizations can and do operate effective welfare programs.What things are currently not working?
It is quite obvious that state-run welfare programs are ineffective, wasteful, and downright unconstitutional.
Their negative consequences far obscure any positive that may result.
The so-called "War on Poverty" is just like the "War on Drugs" or the "War on Terror". None of them actually solve or even reduce the problems they claim to be solving. They are all designed to perpetuate and grow the power and influence of the state while eliciting the support of the majority.What things do we often think help but not only don't help but actually hurts?
There is a prevailing attitude and belief that only government can provide certain products or services. The reality is that government does not provide or produce anything - it forcibly takes from producing individuals (or groups of producing individuals) to redistribute (or keep).
The inevitable result is the continuation or exacerbation of most problems government claims to solve. Also, the government has no incentive to provide quality products or services - especially where it has a monopoly - because there is no competition or incentive to please customers or generate revenue.
But government continues to grow, and government employees and people in positions of power or responsibility within government always seem to be well taken care of, in spite of the fact that none of the problems they claim to be solving ever seem to go away.