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Libertarians like to claim that poverty will be solved by "The Magic Of The Market" and charity. But high levels of poverty persist despite US markets and charity, and has been nearly eliminated in strongly socialist nations such as Denmark. See also inequality.

Frequently it is claimed that capitalism is responsible for alleviating world poverty. Yes, some. But Communism was also successful at alleviating poverty in the Soviet Union and China. Science (mostly publicly funded), public Education and Democracy can also take credit as well. Attributing it all to capitalism is greedy reductionism.


Private Charity (4 links)
Private charity is the libertarian's magical alternative to government redistribution. All of history shows that private charity has never and never will be up to the task of alleviating problems of poverty and other injustice or health care. To a libertarian, private charity is the only charity because "taxation is theft". Private charity has always been manipulative in addition. Private charity by the rich is possible because the rich have excessively taken their share from workers and customers. Better the workers and customers are able to spend that money themselves to support the needy, or contribute taxes towards it.
Minimum Wage (19 links)
Contrary to Economics 101 dogmas, minimum wage law has no harmful effects on employment according to many real-world studies. And definitely not the harmful effects long claimed by its opponents. Minimum wage does effectively reduce poverty.
Public Housing (3 links)
Long derided by conservatives and libertarians as programs that are worse than their alternatives, there is strong evidence that public housing is an effective approach to poverty. Cities such as Singapore have long used public housing to promote their economy.
Social Welfare (12 links)
Often derided as the "welfare state", social welfare produces the best lives for all by standards of low poverty, health, long lives, employment, education and many other measures. By modern methods of measuring poverty, poverty in the USA has dropped from 19.5% in 1963 to 2.3% in 2016. There are many varieties, including Basic Income. Conservatives and libertarians create many myths about welfare failures.
Microfinance (3 links)
A failed "free market" solution to poverty that libertarians and neoliberals trumpeted as better than government efforts. Also known as Microcredit.
Taxes And Growth (16 links)
Low taxes do not produce more growth, though democracy does. Successful reduction of poverty by tax-funded programs does not reduce growth either.
Famines (2 links)
Libertarians blame governments for famines, but Amartya Sen attributes famines to declines in ability to obtain food, which can be due to governments or to natural causes or to market peculiarities. Democratic governments have always been able to respond to these declines and prevent or alleviate famines. Capitalism and globalization has been behind famines in many nations.
Blaming the Poor (3 links)
Blaming the poor for their poverty is a classic right-wing trope that bears little relationship to reality. Poverty is built into our society the way the game of musical chairs has one winner and several losers. What may seem irrational may be due to different options and the psychological effects of poverty.
A Conservative Case for the Welfare State [More...]
"In his 1987 book The Fairness of Markets, the libertarian economist Richard McKenzie argued that welfare benefits were essential to the operation of a free market. Without them, society’s net losers, such as workers who lost their jobs due to free trade policies, would put up roadblocks that would undermine the market, such as protectionism, that would ultimately cost more in terms of growth than the cost of welfare."
Brief insights into the libertarian mind [More...]
Freddie deBoer writes: "... the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world. [...] I saw essentially no commentary from institutional libertarianism that acknowledged the ugly aesthetics of a bunch of white, privileged libertarians working to undermine efforts to reduce gun crime in an impoverished black city."
Child Poverty Across Political Traditions [More...]
Nations with social democratic institutions in the developed world have much less child poverty than nations with liberal market institutions.
College, the Great Unleveler [More...]
For-profit education, burdening of students with inescapable loans and absence of federal leadership are identified as major problems that perpetuate inequality.
Fighting Poverty And Inequality The Proven Way [More...]
David Brooks suggest improving education to fight poverty and inequality. 40 years of history demonstrates that does not work. Transfer programs do work.
Freedom and Money [More...]
G. A. Cohen points out the elephant in the room: property restricts freedoms of others, and money is the bribe needed to enjoy those freedoms. In this respect, the poor have much less freedom than others.
Gaming the Poor
"Examining 15 types of legal gambling, the researchers came to a striking conclusion: Casino gambling had by far the most harmful effects on people at the lower end of the income ladder."
In America’s War on Poverty, the free market is AWOL [More...]
The expanded safety net has contributed significantly to reducing poverty in America over the past half-century; but our market economy has not.
It is Not a School Problem
Diane Ravitch used to be a supporter of school reform. But now she is the author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools. The problem is poverty and segregation.
It Matters How Rich the Rich Are [More...]
"[...] the poor can be made not-poor by reducing the wealth/income of the rich in order to increase the wealth/income of the poor. In that sense, then, the richness of the rich is a cause of the poorness of the poor."
LBJ's Great Society Won the War on Poverty [More...]
By modern methods of measuring poverty, poverty in the USA has dropped from 19.5% in 1963 to 2.3% in 2016. "In other words, taking a bird’s eye view of the economy, the Great Society worked. Material deprivation of the kind that was still common in midcentury America -- a desperate lack of food, shelter and basic medical care -- is much rarer today."
Lucky Duckies and Fortunate Sons [More...]
On poverty and right wing reactions: "[...] the way people tend to react to a rigged game -- discouragement or selective blindness --are pretty common sense, yet are vociferously denied nonetheless by significant segments in the United States."
Market Incomes Will Always Produce Hideous Inequality [More...]
"Due to the fact that half of the population is locked out of market income, there simply is no path to low social inequality that does not rely heavily on the welfare state, aka taxes and transfers."
Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity (book)
How the current economic system privileges the upper class (which libertarians support, though they claim not to), and how to reform it to foster the middle class with recommendations that libertarians oppose.
Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year (2015) [More...]
"Safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2015, lifting 38 million people — including 8 million children — above the poverty line, our analysis of Census data released yesterday finds[...] The figures rebut claims that government programs do little to reduce poverty.
The Davos Lie (4 links)
A term coined by Larry Summers. The old idea that since free trade increases overall benefits, the winners could compensate the losers with some of the gains to create a Pareto improvement where everybody wins. But the real world fact is that this compensation does not occur, increasing poverty and inequality dramatically.
The Second Bill Of Rights: FDR's UNfinished Revolution-- And Why We Need It More Than Ever (book)
FDR proposed 8 economic rights: employment, with a living wage; food, clothing and leisure; farmers' rights to a fair income; freedom from unfair competition and monopolies; housing; medical care; social security; education. A foreshadowing of the Capability Approach.
The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone (book) (1 link)
Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation's richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society. -- Publishers Weekly
The War Over Poverty [More...]
Paul Krugman points out that the war on poverty has been a huge success with important long-term effects when you look at the data. And that "the problem of poverty has become part of the broader problem of rising income inequality, of an economy in which all the fruits of growth seem to go to a small elite, leaving everyone else behind."
Welfare Beats Jobs When It Comes to Poverty Reduction [More...]
What we see across countries is that low inequality and poverty is overwhelmingly about social spending. Even a very low unemployment rate will produce a high poverty rate if the welfare spending is not there.


[...] the counter-mercantilist pattern imposed by Marshall's unusual Pax Americana favored transferring low level, labor intensive industries (e.g. textiles) en masse to poor regions around the globe in a cascade sequence that uplifted, successively, Germany and Japan, then Korea and Taiwan, then Malaysia and Singapore and so on, until right now this program of "foreign aid via WalMart" is raising up more than a billion people in China and India at the same time.
David Brin, "American Exceptionalism... versus what has made America exceptional"
The funny thing is that whenever sensible policies produce episodes of full employment, as in the late 1990s, the long postwar boom, or the World War II economy, the supposedly feckless poor get decent jobs and their incomes go up.
Robert Kuttner, "David Brooks's Worst Column Ever"
But at least Brennan [in Against Democracy] is honest in exposing the libertarian project as fundamentally opposed to the basic rights of human beings, its grand paeans to liberty being thin cover for taking the vote away from poor people.
Nathan Robinson, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"
Against nature man can claim no right, but once society is established, poverty immediately takes the form of a wrong done to one class by another.
Hegel, "Outlines of the Philosophy of Right", 1820, paragraph 244.