More Government, More Poverty

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Turns out that the highest poverty rate in the country belongs to California, a state that has wielded the power of government as much or more than any other state in an attempt to lower it. This is poverty measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure which accounts for cost of living as well as non-cash government assistance. Because it accounts for cost of living, the state faces a double whammy as it’s policies raise that cost by making it harder to find work, taxing away salaries, and creating social welfare dependencies. As Kerry Jackson notes in this LA Times article, “It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place.” He goes on to say,

“Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.”

Yes, “government,” meaning the people who make up government, will sacrifice citizens welfare in order to keep and acquire power.

Land use regulations drive up housing costs, while extensive environmental regulations drive up energy costs. (Note: environmental regulations – needed; extensive regulations – counterproductive.) And needed to develop and enforce these regulations? More power-hungry bureaucrats.

Of course, when all else fails, raise the minimum wage, which California has done, hoping that the law of supply and demand somehow doesn’t hold in the Golden State.

The state’s politicians believe they can engineer the end of poverty. They believe they have the answers, if only we give the state more power. More power to run our lives. And more power to make people dependent on the state to live.