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Ideas about poverty and theft

Some ideas to think about

As one travels the world, one sees one common sight in all countries. It’s a person in self-induced poverty sitting on the side of a footpath with a plastic cup in front of them.

As annoying as these people are at making you feel like a tight bastard for not putting a few cents in the cup, they are not robbing you.

It’s your choice to contribute or not. It’s not like the government taking your money and giving it to them.

Walter E. Williams has some practical ideas on poverty and avoiding it.

Poverty is no mystery, and it’s easily avoidable.

The poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year. For a two-person household, it was $16,072, and for a four-person household, it was $24,755.

To beat those poverty thresholds is fairly simple. Here’s the road map: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen.

How about some numbers? A single person taking a minimum wage job would earn an annual income of $15,080. A married couple would earn $30,160.

By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 4 percent of hourly workers in 2016 were paid the minimum wage. That means that over 96 percent of workers earned more than the minimum wage. Not surprising is the fact that among both black and white married couples, the poverty rate is in the single digits. Most poverty is in female-headed households.

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign garnered considerable appeal from millennials. These young people see socialism as superior to free market capitalism.

Capitalism doesn’t do well in popularity polls, despite the fact that it has eliminated many of mankind’s worst problems, such as pestilence and gross hunger and poverty. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism.

Any earthly system, when compared with a utopia, will not fare well.

Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster. Those disasters have been experienced in countries such as the USSR, China, most African nations and, most recently, Venezuela. When these disasters are pointed out, the excuse is inadequacies of socialist leaders rather than socialism itself. For the ordinary person, free market capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our everyday needs and desires.

Here are a couple of questions: Does an act clearly immoral when done privately become moral when done collectively? Does legality or majority consensus establish morality? Before you answer, consider that slavery was legal; South African apartheid was legal; the horrendous Stalinist, Nazi and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality or a majority consensus cannot establish morality.

You might ask, “If you’re so smart, Williams, what establishes morality?” That’s easy, and you tell me when I make the wrong step. My initial premise is that we own ourselves. You are your private property, and I am mine. Self-ownership reveals what’s moral and immoral. Rape is immoral because it violates private property. So is murder and any other initiation of violence. Most people probably agree with me that rape and murder are immoral, but what about theft? Some Americans would have a problem deciding whether theft is moral or immoral.

Let’s first define what theft is. A fairly good working definition of theft is the taking by force of one person’s property and the giving of it to another to whom it does not belong. Most Americans think that doing that is OK as long as it’s done by government.

We think that it is OK for Congress to take the earnings of one American to give to another American in the form of agricultural subsidies, business bailouts, aid for higher education, food stamps, welfare and other such activities that make up at least two-thirds of the federal budget. If I took some of your earnings to give to a poor person, I’d go to jail. If a congressman did the same thing, he’d be praised.

People tend to love a powerful government. Quite naturally, a big, powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek explained why corruption is rife in government: “In government, the scum rises to the top.”

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Popular Front 13/08/2018, 6:32 am

    Whenever anyone says that the ‘cream rises to the top’ I reply with ‘so does scum’.

    • Pensioner Pete 13/08/2018, 7:21 am

      PF: Bio-chemically speaking, scum will actually rise at a faster rate to the surface than will cream due to embedded decompositional gases contained within the scum (assuming the scum came from fecal matter as it is in this case), thus scum will occupy the upper levels before cream has any chance to make itself known.

      • Henry 13/08/2018, 8:05 am

        Well, Pete, I’ll never look at scum the same way again. “Embedded decompositional gas”? Yikes.
        That accounts for the stink you get with it?

    • angry 13/08/2018, 8:51 am

      Like a septic tank.
      The chunky brown bits float to the surface.

  • AdamantEve 13/08/2018, 8:01 am

    What’s more interesting I that Trump’s approval has gone over 50% 12 times this year. Obama’s score for the same period is 0. Not once.
    And that is with the incensorati dominating the media cursing him night and day.

  • Lorraine 13/08/2018, 8:46 am

    With the price of power and only the pension coming in, many Australian pensioners will be close to the poverty line . Bill Shorten promises to raise our income , but his power will double in price as he wants 50% renewables. Coal is the new four letter word ,no one wants to use

    • angry 13/08/2018, 8:52 am

      shorten the ASSHOLE!

    • Pensioner Pete 13/08/2018, 11:19 am

      Lorraine: Given the poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year and I am blessed with a pension from Centrelink totaling (including the electricity benefit) $7,800 per annum, I reckon I have hit paydirt.

  • angry 13/08/2018, 8:50 am

    Something to say to them…………

    WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE? A BANK?

  • Popular Front 13/08/2018, 11:12 am

    I was walking in the mall in Reading (UK) in 1999 and there was a bloke there begging for change and with him was a medium-sized dog. I know dogs and this one was obviously well fed. The beggar looked at me and said “spare change guv?” I said “I take it you’re not eating?” He, thinking he had a bite, agreed. “Then eat your dog” I said, walking on. I could still hear his outraged bellows two blocks down the mall.

    • Pensioner Pete 13/08/2018, 11:21 am

      PF: I needed that after realising my own situation, I have yet again, sprayed a hot drink all over my monitor and keyboard. Thanks, you made me laugh so much I hurt my ribs (again).

  • Tom 13/08/2018, 1:20 pm

    When asked by there people if I’ve got any change, I usually cheerfully answer “Yes” and walk on without giving it to them.

    The beggars in the UK make ours here in Oz look like rank amateurs. There was one well-publicised case some years ago where a beggar who had a spot in a busy high street in London was followed by a reporter at the end of his day’s begging and photographed climbing in to a late model 500 series Beemer.

    • Joe Blogs 13/08/2018, 4:39 pm

      Here’s a creative beggar –
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cbBdydQlrk&ab_channel=WoodChiang

      The original bloke, who died a few years ago, was much funnier and din’t make noises. Spent great arvos across the road on the upstairs balcony of Joe’s Crab Shack (0:25 sec) watching the Bush Man perform. Got talking to him one day while he was counting all the money in his bucket. Said he always cut fresh branches on his morning bike rides to “work”.

  • Clarion Call 13/08/2018, 2:10 pm

    Who sed beggars can’t be cheesers? “I only made $200 today” complained one poor begmeister in Sydney recently. “Cheeze….things are really crook; people are getting tighter by the day”. “If this keeps up I’ll have to get a smaller cup or a bigger sympathy sign.” Life on the streets of a big city can have its major problems, eh?

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