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Is Liberalism Good for Poor People?

When is the last time you heard Hillary Clinton talk about poverty? How about Barack Obama? Or Bernie Sanders?

Granted, they use the word “middle class” a lot. But when is the last time you heard them talk about what they want to do for the “poor”? I can’t remember.

Take housing. On any given day about 565,000 people in the United States are homeless. That problem isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, at the current rate of progress it will take 40 years before the homeless disappear from our shelters and streets. I don’t recall any Democratic proposals to change that.

Ironically, the chronically homeless decreased more under President Bush (30%) than under President Obama (21%). Hillary Clinton actually charged a group of homeless veterans $500,000 to give a speech. (I have no idea where they got the money.)

When they talk about the problem at all, liberal Democrats invariably say we need to spend more money. But that’s not the answer. Like the problems of education, transportation, medical care and lack of job opportunities, the housing problems of the poor are largely the creation of bad government policies. The cheapest, most efficient way to solve these problems is to change the bad polices.

In 1900, more than half the population was living in poverty, using today’s definition. That was a time when there were huge influxes of people into the cities and urban areas. So where did all those people live? Were they all sleeping under bridges? Since we had a largely free market for housing, the private sector seemed to do quite well at meeting people’s needs.

Not many of today’s readers would want to live in the tenements that housed families 100 years ago. But at least they were housed. They weren’t sleeping on the streets.

One way in which the private sector created housing space is with single room occupancy or single resident occupancy dwellings – usually called SROs:

TennesseeWatchman.com

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

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