Scene: it’s a warm, sunny, mid-morning weekday and I’m working diligently at my desk at home. WHEN SUDDENLY: BZZZZ BZZ BZZZ BZZZZ. My phone starts to shake violently. I look down and notice a slew of notifications from news services, all with the headline reading “POVERTY IN THE UNITED STATES DECREASES AFTER PROVIDING MILLIONS WITH STIMULUS!”
Imagine my surprise.
Before I get into anything, there should be no surprise at all that directly providing people with money will lift them out of poverty. But this brought up a couple questions:
- It was already obvious, but now it’s explicitly so; if giving impoverished people money lifts them out of poverty, then why don’t we just do that?
- What is the alternative?
As I alluded to already, it should have been pretty evident from the start that giving money to the impoverished would likely lift them out of poverty. But, why is continuing to do so seemingly on no one’s radar? And are we really OK with allowing these people to fall back into poverty? Because at this point, it’s a specific choice that we would be making – to force people back into homelessness and hunger.
I’m sure there’s a minority of people that will be perfectly OK with forcing others into impoverished conditions. But I believe the majority just doesn’t think about it. Since it’s not something that they have to deal with often (if ever), they don’t realize the implications of either not continuing some sort of assistance or come up with an alternative.
I personally believe, we as a nation, should strive to completely eliminate poverty. Someone should never be forced to live without adequate food or shelter. I would say that we should continue supporting people directly – whether be it strictly monetarily, or by providing them specifically with housing, food, healthcare, etc.
The traditional neoliberal response would be to devise some sort of mechanism – a product or service to sell that would in turn fight poverty, likely indirectly.
That follows the idea that a free market can solve everything. In an ideal market, rational actors make rational choices. But how often are there first, rational people and second, rational choices being made when it comes to corporations? Generally, choices will be made to maximize profits above all else.
But are there any other alternatives to fighting poverty? One thing I could think of is communities actually coming together to pool resources together to help the needy. Of course, this happens on a micro level, but we’re talking much broader here. There are plenty of small community entities that truly work for the betterment of their neighbors. But, instances such as these are dwarfed by the level of disgust that’s normally shown towards the impoverished.
The amount of times I’ve seen and heard people say something like “Someone needs to do something about the homeless!” in such a way that views these individuals as some sort of pest is astounding to me. In one instance, someone I considered a friend said those exact words to me. At first I figured they were suggesting that the people needed to be helped to better themselves, but sadly that wasn’t the case. They legitimately wanted someone to these individuals out of the city.
It truly astonishes me that someone could be that capable of thinking of so little of another human being that they would rather ignore their existence rather than help them. But in this hyper individualized society that we live in, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that at all.
Something needs to be done to actually fight poverty. Enough with the platitudes and gestures, direct action is needed.
With all of that being said, if you are looking to contribute to helping the needy, please consider donating to a mutual aid network. Mutual aid networks work to help everyone succeed in life – cooperatively. These are groups of people that come together for the betterment of everyone. You can locate a mutual aid network location via the Mutual Aid Hub website: https://www.mutualaidhub.org/