The best approach for fighting poverty is often precisely not to make fighting poverty the highest priority, instead it’s better to stress achievement

By the Left Coast Rebel

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University authored an interesting piece published in today's New York Times, in the context of "income inequality" and the Occupy movement. I excerpted some notable passages:

Furthermore, the best approach for fighting poverty is often precisely not to make fighting poverty the highest priority. Instead, it’s better to stress achievement and the pursuit of excellence, like a hero from an Ayn Rand novel. These are still at least the ideals of many conservatives and libertarians.
In the future, complaints about income inequality are likely to grow and conservatives and libertarians won’t have all the answers. Nonetheless, higher income inequality will increase the appeal of traditional mores — of discipline and hard work — because they bolster one’s chances of advancing economically. That means more people and especially more parents will yearn for a tough, pro-discipline and pro-wealth cultural revolution. And so they should.

Read the rest.

I don't agree with every assertion that this prof. makes (with more commentary from him at his site Marginal Revolution), but still.... I'm surprised to see this in the Times. Is something in the water over there? Some kind of hallucinogen that is making the editors even tolerate material that doesn't tow the far-left line, hook line and sinker?

Via Memeorandum.


  1. The adage lives on, when you subsidize something, you just get more of it...

  2. Winston Churchill said: “The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

  3. Tyler has been a regular contributor to the Times.

    Income inequality is a meaningless concept in economics. Economic growth and development is not a zero sum game. Bill Gates earning another billion dollars doesn't deprive me of one dime. More likely, if he generated another billion of value, I probably derived some benefit from it either in products I use, pecuniary benefits of lower costs and better service from others, or external benefits from its use by others that i did not pay for.

    If the economic literature tells us anything, its that income inequality provides the resources for large scale capital investments and venture capital. And as Tyler states, it preserves the incentives for achievement.

    Having arisen from poverty, I can attest that I was probably one handout away from remaining there permanently.

    It's instructive to observe that in cities which have been controlled by Demon Rats for decades, poverty remains undiminished. There are people who have been homeless for more than forty years. What have programs done for them except glue them to their conditions?

    Liberals fought the War on Poverty, and poverty won.

  4. Nick: I didn't know that Tyler is a regular contributor to the Times (because I don't read it typically).

    And I totally agree that the concept of "income inequality" is meaningless, or as Rand would have said, an "anti-concept".

    But to the left and progressives and socialists (one and the same), for one to prosper, another must suffer. And all economics is a zero sum game.

    FYI: the biggest contributing factor to chronic poverty (as you state) is the welfare state created from LBJ's vision.

    Great comment.

  5. John: Churchill wouldn't stand a chance in the UK today... sadly, probably not here either.


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