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So, here’s the question

The figure Desmond holds in his head is $177bn. That’s the annual cost of taking those millions of people in America living below the poverty line – without a secure roof over their head or enough to eat or keep warm and access healthcare – and getting them above it.

How is he calculating that? Before or after the hundreds of billions already spent each year?

Matthew Desmond: ‘The poverty rate in America and the UK should be zero – and I think we can get there’

Of course, it is zero when we use absolute poverty as our measure. So, what other measure is he going to insist upon using?

12 thoughts on “So, here’s the question”

  1. So, what other measure is he going to insist upon using?

    Probably that everyone should have incomes above the median. [See earlier comment on numeracy.]

  2. No doubt the definitions and arithmetic would benefit from harsh scrutiny.

    But at first glance the ‘ask’ seems rather modest. $177bn is just 0.7% of US GDP, or $500 per American.

    Of course this does not mean that whatever he is proposing is a good idea.

  3. The US spent $1.2 trillion on welfare last year, so I reckon the government would jump at the chance to solve poverty for a tiny fraction of that sum. If a vaguely realistic plan was available….

  4. His conclusion back then was a stark one: not only that the constant threat and reality of eviction was the number one factor in perpetuating destitution, but also that there were many people making a lot of money from keeping other people in that traumatic, impoverished state.

    The famously lucrative slum landlord business.

  5. Steve

    ‘Moving up on second base
    Behind Nicholas Van Wotsisface
    At six foot six and a hundred tons
    The undisputed king of the slums
    With more aliases than Klaus Barbie
    The master butcher of Leigh-on-Sea
    Just about to take the stage
    The one and only
    Hold the front page!’

  6. I will give the guy his due in that he at least ‘walked the walk in that sense but the conclusions are just beyond yawnsome.

    “Bearing witness is the start,” he says. “Publishing a book like Evicted is like step three out of 100, in terms of getting to real change.”

    You have guys in these types of areas (and indeed not just these areas) selling narcotics that are making, untaxed thousands of dollars per day trading in human misery – on what parallel universe do you think asking people if they would trade that in to live in harmony working hard manual labour on minimum wage will result in a ‘Yes’ answer? I am guessing Desmond no doubt dutifully attended Antifa and BLM rallies and backs defunding the police and a vast expansion of the welfar state to provide tenured employment for arts grads in perpetuity.

    I think the progressive side needs to sell dreams, too. I think the proper poverty rate in America – or the UK – is zero. I think we can get to zero. I’d like to hear a politician stand up and say that.”

    I can introduce you to a man in Ely masquerading as an academic (And he is one of thousands in the UK) a loan who makes a tidy living selling fantasies. Oddly they run completely counter to human nature and indeed increasingly when reality contradicts them it is the reality which has to be redefined.

    To whit:

    – There is ‘systemic racism’ in the UK

    – There are more than 2 genders

    – People can redefine themselves as male or female at will

    – Governments can print money without limit and not incur any adverse consequences

    – The rich are taxed insufficiently

    Need I continue?

    It was this gutting moment – a lot of people in the room had been through eviction themselves. I thought then that I would have to be confronting this old story about work ethic, too many babies, much more often. But after that it just didn’t often come up. I think people are really ready for a new story. I think that deep down inside, most Americans don’t think you can work your way out of poverty.

    I think the response to COVID whereby people were persuaded that actually they don’t need to do anything and Uncle Sam will subsidise them ad nauseam probably led many to conclude, not altogether erroneously that low paid work was a game for mugs. Why work your ass off when you can be utterly feckless and someone else will bail you out? A Murphyesque Straw Man brought up just prior to that as well – he omitted the term ‘Trump supporter’ but it does appear elsewhere in the article.

    It sounds very like the British 90s work ‘Dark Heart’ by Nick Davies or ‘Hard Work’ by La Toynbee – actually not in of itself uninteresting in terms of observation but drawing the wrong conclusions. If anyone in the UK or US today thinks the issue is ‘too little government’ they’re either delusional or actively part of the problem.

  7. VP – kek.

    It sounds very like the British 90s work ‘Dark Heart’ by Nick Davies or ‘Hard Work’ by La Toynbee – actually not in of itself uninteresting in terms of observation but drawing the wrong conclusions

    His conclusions are, of course, fantasy nonsense:

    If the top 1% paid just the taxes they owe, he shows, it would close that $177bn gap at a stroke. And that would benefit everyone. An expanded safety net, rent control, secure tenancy, a rise in minimum wage, would create more stable families; it would reduce crime and addiction; it would increase opportunity and create a far more educated workforce. “How many nurses and engineers and scientists and visionaries does poverty deny us?”

    $177Bn probably wouldn’t even buy them their own HS2. And the US is deliberately importing poor people by the order of millions of warm, hungry bodies a year.

  8. Would it help to stop importing poor people?

    Or, perish the thought that poverty doesn’t just happen to people in first world societies, it must be struggled for by judicious use of fecklessness and stupidity?

  9. There will *never* be zero poverty because there is a small minority of peole who will spend their week’s dole on the first evening and then have to beg (or steal) for the next six days.
    This is a small minority, and minority of the minority in “relative poverty”, but anyone who airbrushes them out of existence is untrustworthy.

  10. With the exception of a very, very small hand full of the truly unfortunate poverty in the USA is by choice–maybe your mother’s choice, your choice or your partner’s choice, but choice nonetheless. Income redistribution and provided services today make the status of the poor truly middle class compared to the 60s and 70s in America. Hobbled by bureaucracy, tied up in red tape and sometimes considered demeaning, but the assistance is available.

  11. The world is too little governed.

    We have a blight of of beaurocracy, loads of laws, and scads of civil servants. But barely enough government to control even the worst of criminals.

    The arm of the state presently extends mainly against those who would provide government to society. The manager that demands their employees do the jobs for which they are hired is at risk of a wrongful dismissal suit if they rightfully dismiss the chaff, or a discrimination fine if they discriminate accurately that a worthless employee is worthless. A father that insists his daughter is in fact a daughter when a mad mother and teacher insist a girl is a boy can and will face imprisonment in the west. A landowner that insists their tennet uphold their contract and pay their rents as agreed must struggle against the state to enact rightful government of their own land and contracts.

    The west is too little governed. Our states are all run by anarchists, the only thing they govern is anyone who tries to exact rightful government, and promote discipline and order.

    We live in mere anarchy today. It’s only that the popular idea that anarchy means no state is woefully misguided: anarchy means a state totally unchecked by government. A million petty tyrants unchecked by anyone or anything. They unite only to prevent themselves from being governed.

    Only the iron hand of reality checks the anarchists that run the state today. They hate it. It is their one undefeated foe. And anyone that points reality out to them is considered an agent of that great enemy and a target of their wrath.

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