Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Allow poverty, allow wealth

In one of my yahoogroups, there was a discussion on "ending (a never-ending) poverty."

I do not believe in such formulation. Governments (and the WB, ADB, UN, IMF, USAID, CIDA, etc.) should not and cannot "end" poverty in the Philippines and elsewhere. On the contrary, I propose that government, and private citizens, should tolerate poverty, and should tolerate (without penalties of high taxes) wealth and being very rich. Being poor or wealthy is the reward and punishment for how we manage our time, how hard-working and how ambitious we are for ourselves, our family, our friends and our community.

A person who over-drinks and over-smokes everyday, and occasionally over-fights with various enemies, actually wishes to meet his creator soon. So when government comes in to give him free medicines, free hospitalization, free nutrition, free monthly allowance, etc., that is unfair because the government is stopping that person from meeting his creator soon. Also, government is penalizing those who take care of their body and their family very well with over-taxation, so government will have lots of tax money to subsidize those who don't take care of their body, and for the pork barrel of politicians.

Should government intervene to reduce poverty, then the best way to do it is simply to promulgate the rule of law. Thieves, robbers, kidnappers, rapists, land grabbers, murderes, extortionists, etc. should meet the full force of the law and the penalties for their crimes. Then investors and ordinary folks will have peace of mind. They can work up to midnight if they want, and not worry that thieves and muggers will trespass inside their house and other private property. This will raise productivity, and people can take care of their sthouseholds if they are hard-working and ambitious enough. If they are lazy and don't want to work even if they are able bodied, then government should have zero money to tide them over.

Way back in the mid-80s when I was still an undergrad Economics student, I was a marxist-socialist then and I loved that government should assume all responsibility for the people, from womb to tomb, from food to beer, from housing to vacation. "Personal responsibility" was an ugly word for me then, it should be "government responsibility."

So again, we should not "end" poverty, allow it. Allow also people to become very rich. Let us migrate from being "pro-poor" to being "pro-wealthy".

A friend posted this beautiful quote:

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

Thomas Jefferson

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