The Propaganda is too Simple

poverty and military spending

This showed up on the internet the other day and deserves a solid D for it’s propaganda value.  Let’s deconstruct for a moment.

Starting at the top.  A bit of internet investigation finds that this $178 billion number comes from the US Census Bureau calculates domestic poverty, calculated based on the total number of people who are below the poverty line and by how much.  [This is from 9.5 million families and 12.6 million individuals being below the government defined poverty level.]

What is interesting is the federal and state programs designed to elevate poverty actually far exceed this “poverty gap”, coming in at $830 billion (in 2012).

The problem of poverty and the money spent on solving it.

The problem of poverty and the money spent on solving it.

So as an anarchist I am not going to spend a lot of time on the reasons why the government is not a good solution for programs which alleviate poverty and not good value for money.

poverty and the rich cartoon

Under the current system we will never buy our way out of poverty.  Not because it is beyond our capacity, but rather it is not really our leaders (both business and political) desire.  Poverty has a function.

The Marxist make three arguments for the utility of poverty to capitalism:

  1. Temporary, dead-end, dirty, dangerous and menial jobs are undertaken by the poor
  2. It creates jobs for the middle class including policy makers, probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and civil servants.
  3. Poverty helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor – “The defenders of the desirability of hard work, thrift, honesty and monogamy need people who can be accused of being lazy, spendthrift, dishonest and promiscuous to justify these norms.”

My analysis is a bit different.

Poverty is hole in the safety net.  It is capitalisms long lever in negotiations with unions.  It is the economic gravity which pulls down the minimum wage.  If there were not poverty in this country, boards should be firing their CEOs because they are not doing their job of maximizing shareholders profits.

This might be a problem

This is a fairness problem

Similarly, on the military side – this spending is not designed to solve any domestic problem, so elected (and often bought off) politicians will not move money which is designed to maintain US control of foreign places away from military spending to do anything domestic. A significant reason for the large US military budget is to insure that cheap foreign labor is available for US based multinational corporations.

To summarize:  Government anti-poverty programs don’t work.  Poverty is a necessary and structural component of the current flavor of industrial capitalism we have.  The US maintains a tremendous military to insure it’s imperial foreign policy objectives and thus will not cut it for domestic income redistribution.

The math is not simple and this propaganda is too simplistic.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

8 responses to “The Propaganda is too Simple”

  1. jo says :

    “federal and state programs designed to elevate poverty”………”alleviate”?

  2. Charlie says :

    What you explained makes perfect since to capitalism as a government, in the U.S.. My question is: Tell me about the countries that are getting this equation right, thus not having 85 individuals = 3.5 billion. Something closer to 2 billion = 1.5 billion or does something like this not exist. Thanks!

    • paxus says :

      Charlie – So many, but certainly not all of the worlds 85 richest people are in the US. This graphic is about the global problem and my article is critical of the US. There are countries with higher wealth taxes – the Scandinavia countries jump to mind. Where there is greater income equity. And there is still some poverty in these countries, for some of the reasons in this article.

  3. keenantwinoaks says :

    Paxus, additionally, consumerist culture is fueled by two forces, aspiration and fear. Aspiration of winning the jackpot and becoming wealthy, and fear of becoming a victim of crime or, as you point out, becoming poor. An equal society will have happier people who are not particularly focused on working hard to stay ahead. People who feel safe and secure will not tolerate miserable work or difficult working conditions. Also they will seek contentment through friends and family, or time spent happily alone. Whereas in a class-stratified society people consume more unnecessary things (like an excessively large house) as a means to appear wealthy, or as a distraction from their unhappy lives. So poverty supports corporations by encouraging consumption, in addition to, as you point out, keeping wages down and workers fearful.

  4. GPaul says :

    The system isn’t broken, it’s just the wrong system.

    • paxus says :

      exactly. This is the essence of this post. Interestingly, I kind of thought it was a throw away post, which would not get much traffic, but it has been shared and liked several times.

      PArt of doing this blog is finding out what people are actually interested in talking about and being engaged with.

      Enjoy Europe.

      Paxus in Ithaca
      15 Redder 2014

  5. Logan says :

    Oh boy, there are so many facets here that one can address! Primarily I want to say I’ve always thought we should focus on opposing “The Military Industrial Complex”, rather than promoting pacifism, disarmament (Though I did march in NYC in ’82 for such, in the US’s largest demo ever :(), or claiming US defense is simply about protecting cheap labor markets. Most people are receptive to how their taxes are wasted, but view anti-Americanism and pacifism as dangerous.

    There ARE millions of psychopaths out there, and my father and his generation stopped one from exterminating groups of people in Europe. The military isn’t all bad. Also, the lesson of the 20th century, to me, is that no one could create a socialist government anyone wanted to live in, so why do people still think most humans even WANT economic equality? .

    Mostly, I see addressing that Complex Eisenhower warned us about as likely to be a productive endeavor, while these other things stand a slim chance, and isolate us from the general public. And! make us easily demonized by our opponents,

    Feel free to disagree! I’ll listen.

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