by Locker Room contributor
One other thing. Edwards needs work if he’s going to put up a serious front that this is only about addressing poverty. The N&O reported today that “Edwards announced Friday that he will head a new nonpartisan center to study ways to move more Americans from poverty to the middle class” (emphasis added).
Someone serious about the issue of poverty would have to recognize pretty much immediately that it’s not the same as being poor ? which is a relative measure. In the simple terms implied by Edwards, it’s not upper class, middle class, poverty. Poverty implies privation or the inability to address one’s most basic needs. Being poor means lacking wealth relative to one’s neighbors in that one is unable to address one’s wants.
No less an authority than Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. But as pointed out by Henry Grady Weaver (not to mention, by countless others who’ve studied free-market economics) society can grow its way out of poverty ? through freedom, what Weaver called The Mainspring of Human Progress. In John Hood’s review:
[Weaver] began his book with a discussion of the condition shared by most human beings throughout most of human history?hunger. The ancient civilizations extolled by historians and philosophers, Weaver pointed out, consistently failed to keep their people fed. Egyptians and Greeks sometimes killed their babies because they couldn?t feed them. The Roman Empire collapsed in famine. French peasants were dying of hunger when Thomas Jefferson bought Louisiana from Napoleon Bonaparte. As late as the 1840s, the Irish were starving to death from a potato famine. In Weaver?s day, famines continued to plague significant portions of Asia and Africa. But by 1947, in the United States, there were only periodic, geographically limited episodes of hunger. And after Weaver?s time (he died in 1949), the Green Revolution of unparalleled agricultural productivity in the 1960s essentially eradicated hunger as a serious problem not only in the United States, but throughout much of the developed and developing world. … Indeed, the average American now consumes about twice as many goods and services as families did in Weaver?s day?and he thought his contemporaries enjoyed an extremely high and unprecedented standard of living! … Weaver argued, the mainspring of human progress was freedom itself. The United States, by allowing the most individual freedom to produce goods and services and sell them to consumers for profit, had unleashed the greatest degree of invention and ingenuity, resulting in social benefits for all.
Optimist that I am, I hope Edwards’ new center appreciates the hunger and poverty ridding power of freedom. Otherwise, I fear they will advocate the same old state-driven initiatives ostensibly to end poverty that wind up creating more of it and destroying freedom in the process. As Weaver said,
“Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind.”