A more effective approach to reducing poverty for the long term is to help people to help themselves. Simply giving the poor government handouts does not end or even reduce poverty.
For example, in the US we have had a so-called “War on Poverty” since the mid 1960s. After trillions of taxpayer dollars were spent by the government over the past 50 years, we still have poverty and by numerous measures we have more of it in these United States.
Yes, let’s help those who are poor and let us offer humanitarian aid and assistance after natural disasters and other calamities. But, if we really care about our fellow human beings, we need to also insist that governments around the world implement economic policies that foster economic growth. (That often requires the government bureaucrats to get out of the way and refrain from issuing countless regulations and to reduce taxes on businesses and individuals.) With economic growth comes economic opportunity so that people can lift themselves out of poverty with dignity. The small percentage of people who will not work to better themselves (when jobs can be found) cannot be helped. That is their choice.
If we fail to advocate for and implement pro-growth economic policies, we then really do not care to end or greatly reduce poverty over time. We are causing the poor to be trapped in a lifetime of dependency on government and/or private charity.
To the politicos around the world, and especially to those politicians in the US, I say stop buying votes each election with promises of more government aid and actually do something substantive to improve the lot of all your citizens. Implement policies that encourage and allow for economic growth.
For those interested readers, we recommend one of our earliest blog essays from the summer of 2012:
Thanks for reading.
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