The Propaganda is too Simple
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).
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.
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:
- Temporary, dead-end, dirty, dangerous and menial jobs are undertaken by the poor
- It creates jobs for the middle class including policy makers, probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and civil servants.
- 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.
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.