How to Increase Poverty
I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient. -Sir John Falstaff
THERE exist at least eight reliable ways to increase poverty. The United States now pursues seven of them. Should it continue to do so, poverty in America will continue. Now it is true that since 1936 the percentage of American families below the official OEO poverty line has been cut, from 56 per cent to less than 10 per cent.* And with our trillion-dollar GNP we have the wherewithal to cut that down to 1 per cent by next Sunday. But it may be impossible to end poverty permanently without changing course on these seven ways. Yet doing so could change American capitalism beyond recognition.
We must begin from a truism: few Americans really want to end poverty. Is that truism contradicted by the strong speech of the young, by the Kennedy-Johnson poverty programs, or by the Nixon welfare program? Consider the following: America could immediately end the blinding poverty of India and Pakistan, if only it chose to do so. How? Rather simply, by dividing up the incomes of the three countries, share and share alike. By that single decisive action we could guarantee those nations against starvation. Naturally, U.S. incomes would have to fall, from about $4,000 a person to $600. How many Americans are prepared to take this step?
About the Author