Approaches to Alleviating Poverty Must Include Addressing Its Underlying Cause to be Effective
Poverty is a distressing symptom of the lack of economic opportunity. Lack of economic opportunity can be caused by a number of factors. (Dear reader, please pardon me for not elaborating on the myriad of factors, great and small, that can reduce or limit economic opportunity. This is to be a short essay, and not a tome of hundreds of pages that I care not to write, and that you would not care to read. Thank you.)
The poor. Solely treating the symptoms of poverty without addressing its principal underlying cause will never reduce poverty to a significant degree over the long-term. Certainly, we ought to be generous, and help people who are suffering the ills of extreme poverty (starvation, malnourishment, increased child mortality, increased disease, etc.). I am all for that.
But, as lack of economic opportunity is the principal cause of poverty, the most effective way to reduce poverty over time is to implement policies that foster, encourage, and allow for authentic economic growth. Economic growth produces greater economic opportunity for people in the form of good jobs being created as businesses expand, and in an increased chance of success for new businesses in a healthy, growing economy. And, as more people are gainfully employed, they become greater consumers and thereby contribute to sustaining the economic growth. When the total economic pie grows, everyone can get a larger slice!
And, we need to oppose the calls for more Marxist like approaches to reducing poverty. Marxist policies increase poverty and increase human misery wherever they are tried. Redistributing wealth does not reduce poverty long-term because it cannot. Zero sum games are just that.
(There is a Catholic organization that understands and grasps the above view. That is the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its website is located at http://www.acton.org/ .)
The Church would do the poor (and society) a better turn if the Church would urge the implementation of economic policies that foster economic growth (which actually leads to economic opportunity (jobs, rising incomes, etc.)) so that people can with dignity lift themselves out of poverty.
The Church, on some issues, needs to take a more comprehensive and more pragmatic approach in its pronouncements to the world.
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Thank you for your time in reading and thinking about this.