At 03:05 PM 1/8/97 -0500, you wrote:
>If anti-poverty programs are so effective, why, after 30-60 years of
>state welfare, is poverty and income polarization worse than ever?
>As any streetcorner pusher will tell you, the easiest way to get
>someone hooked on something is to give it away for free. And
>having a totally dependent underclass like we have created is as
>far from a sustainable food situation as I can think of
>An economist will say that if you subsidize something, you'll
>have more of it. Well, we've been subsidizing "wrong" behavior
>like unemployment, inactivity, single parenthood, etc. for 30
>years. No surprise there is more of it than when we started.
>This is not to diminish the good intention of these programs,
>only to state that I believe they've made things worse
>People have to stop depending on the state to solve our
>problems, as it is unable even when it is willing. Worst of all,
>government always seem to reward bad behavior and punish good
>behavior (I can name many examples if anyone is interested)
>I see the welfare state as a copout for people unwilling to
>begin charity at home and help their neighbors. And especially,
>to change their consumption behavior so that poverty becomes
>I expect some flames for this, and I welcome
>your comments Thanks for lending me the soapbox for a minute
>Center for Rural Studies
>207 Morrill Hall, UVM
>Burlington, VT 05405
>FAX: (802) 656-0776
>On Wed, 8 Jan 1997, Frederick R. Magdoff wrote:
>> Some of the postings on sanet keep repeating that the government
>> just screws things up.Given the stories in the press and the preachings
>> of many politicians it is not too surprising to many find people
>> (including those on sanet-mg) who believe that whenever the government
>> does something they screw it up. This happens not to be true, although
>> there are certainly plenty of things that governments do poorly (as there
>> are for private companies and charities). But the atmosphere created by
>> this sentiment is being used to justify a dismantling of social programs.
>> The current attempts to reduce and do away with social programs
>> in the US should be of interest to those concerned with sustainable
>> agriculture. If the main purpose of a humane and sustainable food system
>> is not to provide a good variety of nutritious food in adequate amounts
>> to all people, then what exactly is it?
>> Three examples of succesful programs are given below
>> 1.) The US programs to alleviate hunger were initiated because
>> the private sector was not particular interested in feeding the hungry
>> and these programs actually worked reasonably well to reduce poverty and
>> 2.) The US social security program, including aid to disabled and
>> elderly, was started precisely because the private sector did not provide
>> for these people and a very high percent were stuck in poverty. It has
>> been very successful and efficient in performing what it was set up to
>> do. (By the way, the stories about the supposed crises in the SS system
>> are unbelievable overkill in comparison to the relatively trivial nature
>> of the problem - for those interested in this, there is an interesting
>> article in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine).
>> 3) The Canadian national health care system -with all its
>> problems- is a model of efficiency and equitable distribution of
>> resources - compared to the US "system" where approximately 1/3 of the
>> money is used for administration and profits and where many people are
>> not even covered by insurance and do not have access to adequate care.
>> The military program probably takes the cake for fraud and waste.
>> Somehow I haven't seen many advocates for dismantling social programs
>> because they are supposedly inefficient also calling for the dismantling
>> of the military!
>> FRED MAGDOFF