Election 2020

Campaign Trail Tales of Woe and Suffering Are at Odds With Reality

Elections are a time when a few of the wealthiest, most cossetted, and least appealing members of society try to convince us that America is an impoverished wasteland.

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We're deep into another presidential election. It's a time when a few of the wealthiest, most cossetted and least appealing members of society try to convince us that America basically is an impoverished wasteland, filled with untold suffering and blight. The nation won't heal itself until we put one of them in charge of its behemoth government.

"The United States has more people living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country," intoned leftist Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. He's so out of touch with reality that he hired a top adviser who once praised the "economic miracle" in socialist Venezuela, which is one of the most genuinely miserable places on Earth.

The populist Right isn't much better. Trump-supporting pundits have spread wild tales of misery afflicting the Rust Belt and the nation's middle class, with Fox News' Tucker Carlson last year engaging in an infamous critique of free-market capitalism. Their policy prescriptions (more government) aren't remarkably different from those championed on the Left.

Obviously, in a land of 329 million flawed human beings one can always find stories of people who are living on the streets, lacking proper healthcare, addicted to drugs and whatnot. Some people are sick, unhappy, out of work and living crummy lives. The only thing lacking from these analyses is a little perspective about the human condition—and about the limits of government uplift.

The data shows that poverty is diminishing rapidly, which no doubt explains why the doom-mongers focus mainly on anecdotes. Conservatives (including President Trump) point to progressive San Francisco as a foreboding place filled with homeless encampments and crime. I'm in the city frequently. It has lots of self-imposed problems, but remains one of the wealthiest and most beautiful cities in the world. It's easy to forget that crime rates are near-record lows in most of America.

I recently returned from rural Appalachia, another place that politicians point to as a sea of despair. The region is in decline, but it's mostly a middle-class place. (Don't tell Trumpsters this, but the best thing that could happen to these hard-edged towns—with their low-cost real estate and aging populations—is an influx of immigrants.) I'm not downplaying enduring problems in cities and the countryside, but the nation is doing well by almost any measure.

The world's doing pretty well, too. Microsoft founder Bill Gates last year tweeted an infographic showing how much living conditions have improved over time. The number of people in extreme poverty has fallen from 94 percent in 1820 to under 10 percent today. Child mortality rates have dropped like a rock, while literacy rates have soared. Instead of welcoming this good news, commentators chided Gates for pointing it out.

Politicians and policy wonks of all stripes have a vested interest in depicting the world as far worse than it really is. It's not hard to understand. No one follows a leader, or pays much attention to their policy proposals, if they argue that life is pretty good and mostly getting better.

Before we get taken in by grandiose political promises or radical political platforms, it's worth recognizing this point made by the Brookings Institution: "Something of enormous global significance is happening almost without notice. For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty." Consider, also, that poverty today is a far cry from what it was in the past given the level of technological innovation that permeates every part of society.

There's an entertaining little book from 1974 called "The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible!" It reminds Americans of the days of sweat shops, tenements, widespread opium addiction, of rampant crime and cities where horse poop (in the days before automobiles) was piled high on nearly every corner. We worry about air quality now, but it's nothing compared to the Industrial Revolution. I was just in a museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was astounded by the dark-as-night daytime photos of the pollution-clogged city.

The first step in reducing poverty is understanding the fundamental nature of it. "(I)f we say that they're poor because we rich people stole everything then the correct policy is going to be rather different from if we acknowledge reality," argues Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute in London. "Which is that abject poverty is the natural state of mankind and it's wealth that is the thing that needs to be created to end it."

Of course, we should try to fix problems and make life even better for more people, but we need to start with some real-world understanding. That begins with recognizing that freedom and the free marketplace are the sources of wealth—and that politicians who peddle doom and gloom are likely only to make us poorer and miserable.

This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

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  1. Matt Welch is most offended by this article.

    1. JesseSPAZ most offended by the idea that SOME people (The utter FOOOLS according to JesseSPAZ!) believe that the USA Constitution should, in ANY way, “bind” (or fetter, restrain) the Trumptatorship!

      With reference to Trump, JesseSPAZ says…
      “He is not constitutionally bound on any actions he performed.”

      1. Boring in your head. Go find a new shiny rock.

        1. Jesse, I’ll bet he bitterly masturbates to your comments.

    2. Can we spray this place for maga hat infestation?

      1. As long as it kills cuckroaches like you from great MAGA hatwear.

    3. I confess to be completely baffled as to how you have come to that conclusion.

      If I was uncharitable, I would conclude that you are dishonest. Since I am not, I must conclude that you suffer from a serious deficiency in reading comprehension and that you simply don’t understand most of what is written here.

      Ignorance is excusable since for most part it can be rectified by education. Likewise stupidity. On the other hand, mendacity is unforgivable.

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    1. See, Giboce, you are part of the problem. Don’t you realize that “Everything Is So Terrible And Unfair” ?(TM)

      Get with the program!

      1. “Everything Is So Terrible And Unfair”

        When they sentence you (in your next lifetime, since you’re probably a geezer right now?), for 10,000 years in the slammer, for “rape”, for consensual sex, with you as an 18.0001-year-old, and her as a 17.9999 year-old… Or he on he, or she on she, or human on goat, as the case may be… PLUS infinity-time on the “sexual predator” list… I hope and pray that your slogan will be of IMMENSE solace to you!

        1. Haha. Wow. Ok, dude. Stay angry.

  3. “… the best thing that could happen to these hard-edged towns—with their low-cost real estate and aging populations—is an influx of immigrants….”

    Because you didn’t see any doesn’t mean we don’t have them. And while not a bad thing they are certainly not the best thing that could happen. Not even close.

    1. I always love the desire to bring immigrants in but not where the article writer lives. I don’t think immigrants are going to solve their problems either. Appalachia is a secluded area that grew off of coal mining. As that’s declined so has a stable employer. It’s why you don’t tend to see alot of boom cities. Best thing that area could be doing is focusing on tourism, sportsmen as it is some of the prettiest land in the country with loads of wildlife, but even that probably won’t help the area that much.

      1. You’d think the Reason offices having a front-row seat to the real-world socio-political results of mass immigration in California would have disabused them of the idea that anything similar would benefit middle- and working-class areas that don’t have “the purity of an anthill.”

        Best thing that area could be doing is focusing on tourism, sportsmen as it is some of the prettiest land in the country with loads of wildlife, but even that probably won’t help the area that much.

        It might actually do more good than you’d expect. That’s what happened and is still happening with a lot of the old mining towns in Colorado–they might not have the industrial economy that kept them going anymore, but they can still sell their scenery. Tombstone still draws people out into the middle-of-nowhere, Arizona solely because of the shootout at the OK Corral.

        A switch to tourism would naturally draw immigrant labor anyway because of the growth of the service industry, but Welch’s remark doesn’t do anything but reveal that he doesn’t really understand the difference in social dynamics between a large urban megalopolis and small working-class towns.

        1. Honestly when I go through tourist towns, prosperity is not what I see.

          What I see is low wage seasonal jobs and high cost housing.

          Not bad to have tourism in a town, but it doesn’t really seem to be enough.

          1. Tourism is a shitty economic base that leads nowhere. Look at the Caribbean or Hawaii. Or for that matter places like Pitkin County CO. To keep attracting tourists, govts have to spend a lot of money forcing the poor (including those who are doing the unskilled service stuff) into being invisible – which also means spending money on jails. It is an industry that provides no tax base for even K-12 schools – so no possibility for any kid there to learn/do something that might lead to something more than being a maid – except leave.

            The economic model for small-towns now is the Mittelstand-type towns in Germany. And there is not one scintilla of anything in American culture – from top to bottom – that indicates that it could work here now.

          2. I think there’s middle ground to be found between “prosperity” and “destitute.”. If it can provide stability, that’s a better long term goal than perpetual economic growth. A town with an established economic industry is better than being a glorified ghost town, which a lot of towns on Colorado’s eastern plains are doing because the ag industry is mostly corporatized now.

          3. Better than selling your sexy scenic body to tourists is to sell it to affluent retirees. They want fancy houses, local health care, and broader amenities, all of which support jobs that pay more than waiting tables and cleaning hotel rooms. And most, with investment portfolios and pensions, bring steady income.

        2. I could see certain types of energy production being valuable for the area. Wind, maybe not solar, and there’s always the possibility of nuclear power. That would provide jobs with high pay, and energy output which could be used to sell to those super cities just east and west.

          1. As rural areas in general decay (not just Appalachia), there will be old folks there who will NOT move elsewhere! HOW will they spend their Social Security checks (in their very eldest years) to get fed, beds changed, butts wiped? Not by younger native-born folks, if there aren’t any! And the Social Security checks aren’t going to change bed sheets either!

            Solution: Stop turning our noses up at illegal sub-humans, especially in these economically stressed areas!

            1. Yes! Someone gets it! We need more brown butt wipers!

              God damn it, progressives are awesome!

              Haha.

              1. I have read of helpless bed-ridden elderly people half-eaten by fire ants, for lack of being attended to properly. Perhaps THIS might be YOUR fate, that you might learn some empathy!

                1. Most of those people were in the “Fine” care of the VA…

                  *Accidentally flagged your post, sorry.

                2. If that does become my future fate, I will surely be demanding that more brown slaves be imported to wipe my butt. You know, out of empathy and stuff.

                  Haha. Wow. You’re a joke, dude.

      2. I’ve only lived in the region for about 14 years, so am hardly an expert to talk about ‘best,’ but there are probably hundreds of things that would be better.

        Killing off the chestnut blight springs to mind. Sticking a cork in know it all outsiders pimping their own agendas would be another.

        1. https://psmag.com/ideas/most-controversial-tree-in-the-world-gmo-genetic-engineering
          THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL TREE IN THE WORLD
          Is the genetically engineered chestnut tree an act of ecological restoration or a threat to wild forests?

          If the anti-GMO nitwits will get out of the way, maybe this will be approved for general dispersal into the wilds, in the next 250 years or so…

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    1. Hey now…

      ” “It’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces? It’s physically impossible. The whole thing is a joke.” AOC

      1. I had to look that up to see if she really said that.

        Is she really a blonde?

    2. Being a camwhore has its advantages I suppose.

  7. That hat looks hideous. Where can I order one to send to my mother in law?

    1. Sorry, Amanda Robb bought the entire lot.

  8. More and more Americans are not buying what Lefties and unreason are selling.

    America will become a Socialist wasteland if you vote Democrat or any other Lefty political party.

    Trump is the best President in US history now and will continue to put America first when he wins reelection.

    1. Trump is a poopyhead! Don’t forget to clean the mess off your back when he’s done.

      1. Trump is a poopyhead!

        I knew there had to be a solid, well-reasoned, argument against voting for Trump.

        1. There might be, but our resident lefty ignoramuses have yet to find one.

    2. I think LC is starting to become a parody of itself.

      1. So are you Boehm? Is that why you’re so obtuse and bitter?

        1. Eric and Wearenotperfect are the typical sock trolls that….well troll.

          You know you’re saying something that unreason staff or Lefties hate when these sock trolls follow you around.

          1. I really believe Eric might be Boehm.

            1. I love U Shitty.

            2. The unreason staff take turns stirring up web traffic in each others article comments. Its degrading but so is donating part of their salaries under socks to keep this shitty magazine afloat.

          2. Your “–Reason” fad has run its course you obtuse Trump mouth piece.

            1. This from the sock troll. Haha. Good one..

              See ya soon.

  9. “Which is that abject poverty is the natural state of mankind and it’s wealth that is the thing that needs to be created to end it.”

    So much this. Of all the things I hope I impart upon my kids, it is that the Default condition is your family huddling in a cave, cold, freezing and dying of disease. You have a right only to what you can personally make of that condition. And when someone comes along who has a good or service that helps lift you from that default condition, you should not be envious or entitled, you should be grateful. You should be so grateful that you are willing to hand that person something of yours to get that service.

    1. Amen, brother.

    2. “And when someone comes along who has a good or service that helps lift you from that default condition, you should not be envious or entitled, you should be grateful.”

      Some “one” does not come along with a good or service. Goods and services come along through the complex set of conditions called “society.” The someone with the good or service is in debt to innumerable others who have come before. So, our cup of gratitude should runneth over.

      1. No, they aren’t in debt to anyone who came before them. Debts can only be obtained voluntarily. If you take out a loan or a mortgage, then you are in debt. You aren’t born into debt. There is no original sin.

        1. Amen,
          This BS about “owing society and those that came before” is just the usual socialist tripe to justify enslaving you today.

          1. Insofar as all that is owed is gratitude, then I’m ok with the debt existing. IME that is part and parcel of patriotism, to name but one aspect of consideration.

            Any further sort of claim or attachment on me or the fruits of my labor is at best highly suspect (personally speaking I am willing to accept a certain amount of duty that conveyed with my surname.)

        2. So, your intelligence isn’t a debt you owe your folks?

          1. Nope.

            1. Ok. We are at an impasse. Have a good day.

              1. I don’t think we’re at an impasse at all, actually.

                Think of your argument this way:

                If my abilities are a debt I owe to my parents, where did my parents come up with them to bequeath them to me? Since, in your system, they can’t have been ‘autonomous individuals?’

                Did not they themselves owe a debt to their own predecessors?

                And do those whose existence follows on mine owe me a debt?

                Do you see why this way of thinking doesn’t really work?

      2. Goods and services come along through the complex set of conditions called “society.”

        No, they don’t. They come along through the effort and innovation of individuals. “Society” is an abstraction, and doesn’t do things.

        “Society” is the complex set of conditions that arises from the relationships between individuals voluntarily providing each other goods and services through a process of mutually beneficial exchange. The more individuals, and the freer they are to trade with one another, the more complex “society” gets.

        Until someone comes along who declares that a single individual or group of individuals will do a better job of determining how that ‘complex society’ needs to be ordered and directed than the individuals who make up that society, at which point we careen back into poverty.

        1. Certainly, “society” is an abstraction. The “autonomous individual” is too.

          1. The “autonomous individual” is too.

            No, it isn’t. It’s an extremely rare thing, but if you’re calling it an abstraction, it’s because you don’t really understand what the word “abstraction” means.

            But that aside, who brought up “autonomous individuals?” Other than you, that is.

            1. I just assumed that individuals with the ability to volutarily provide each other goods and services would need to be autonomous.

              Re abstraction: I guess I don’t.

              1. I just assumed that individuals with the ability to volutarily provide each other goods and services would need to be autonomous.

                If that’s what you meant, then you are correct. We call individual autonomy “free markets.” It involves allowing people to make their own economic choices, autonomously.

                If that’s what you mean by “autonomous individuals” – i.e. individuals whose actions and choices are unconstrained by a priori obligations to others – why would you say that’s an ‘abstraction?’

                1. It’s an abstraction because I’m not sure anyone is totally free in the way you are suggesting. We have debts … biological, psychological, social, etc … that must be paid.

                  1. I think you’re maybe just not using the terms you mean to use.

                    “Society” is an abstraction because it doesn’t have physical existence – it is a non-material ‘thing’ that arises out of the interactions of existing individuals. Thus, “society” is an abstraction, but individual people are not – they’re real, concrete things.

                    By the same token “tech hardware” is an abstraction, while the keyboard I’m typing on right now is not.

                    I’m not sure anyone is totally free in the way you are suggesting

                    “Free” in the way I’m suggesting is that I get to decide how I use my abilities to produce goods and services to exchange with other individuals who are also free to decide whether or not they want to exchange their goods/services for mine. Any outstanding debts, theoretical, abstract, or real contractual debts, don’t have anything to do with that.

                    We have debts … biological, psychological, social, etc … that must be paid.

                    To whom, specifically?

                    1. To the broader issue … without “society” your rights would disappear. Rights only have value IF a society defends them.

                      If rights are innate, or God-Given, whatever … then we had the same rights in the 8th century. How’d that work out?

      3. “…The someone with the good or service is in debt to innumerable others who have come before…”

        Lefty bullshit.

  10. just returned from Appalachia

    I bet the author knows what’s happening to the Midwest really well. I bet he spends so much time there

    1. He’s playing ethnicy jazz to parade his snazz on his 5 grand stereo.
      Braggin how he knows that the niggars feel cold the slums have so much soul

      1. Dead Kennedys are on tour right now.

        1. Joe Biafra is hardly a conservative, but the guy has always despised posers and hypocrites. Like most of the progtards, especially antifa punks.

        2. With Jello? I saw them with a different singer years ago. Meh.

          1. It wouldn’t be the same.

          2. Jello could use a different band and pull off calling it The Dead Kennedys. The rest of the band can’t pull off calling themselves The Dead Kennedys without him.

            1. They tried. They had a singer named Brandon Cruz who apparently was a child actor in a sitcom from before my time. I went to the after party at the hotel and chatted with east bay ray. I asked him about his ideology and he replied that he was liberal cuz his parents were liberal. He didn’t wanna talk about the rift between the band and jello. After that everyone’s attention was diverted by two chicks getting it on in front of lots of people in the next room. Fun time. Love the DK’s.

  11. “Which is that abject poverty is the natural state of mankind and it’s wealth that is the thing that needs to be created to end it.”

    Yep. You hear this refrain from do-gooders about how we must “solve” homelessness and hunger. They simply don’t get that that’s the default state of mankind. They are so spoiled by wealth that they think our current living standards are the default, and anything less is a deviation from the norm. And their solutions always involve destroying wealth. Then again most of those people don’t really want to “solve” homelessness and hunger. They want to “solve” inequality. With equality being the lowest common denominator, their “solution” to homelessness and hunger for some is homelessness and hunger for all.

    1. There is no state of nature. Our needs and wants are malleable. You are exactly wrong: our current living standards are the default. If our needs and wants change then our new living standards would become the default.

      1. By “state of nature” mean “How mankind existed for tens of thousands of years before the last few centuries of prosperity thanks to global capitalism.”

        Poverty has no cause. Poverty is a lack of wealth. The proper question isn’t “Why is Mr. Doe poor?” The question is “Why isn’t Mr. Doe rich?”

        The solution to the first question is to destroy wealth by confiscating it from the haves and giving it to the have nots.

        The solution to the second question is to break down barriers that keep the poor from prospering.

        1. Tell me about these past few centuries of prosperity. How are you defining “prosperity”?

          1. I’m not sarcasmic, but pick a metric. Any of Bill Gates’ will do.

            Are you seriously arguing that the average person a few centuries ago had it better than the average person now? How do you define prosperity?

            1. No, I don’t think they had it better. But, I think we oversimply things when we say that economic development => prosperity (choose your metric). For example, there seems to be a correlation between economic development and suicide. Or to go back a couple millennia, the development of agriculture coincided with a drop in life expectancy.
              My point is, I don’t share your teleological faith.

              1. But, I think we oversimply things when we say that economic development => prosperity.

                No one said it does. He said choose your metric.

                Because by any metric people are more prosperous today than ever.

                For example, there seems to be a correlation between economic development and suicide.

                A consistent one?

                Or to go back a couple millennia, the development of agriculture coincided with a drop in life expectancy.

                And what has life expectancy done since?

                I don’t share your teleological faith

                You seem to have a teleological faith that Mankind has Fallen from some Ideal Past into the Modern World of Suffering and Exploitation.

                What teleologies did sarcasmic indulge in? I missed them.

          2. You can’t be serious.

            Do some research on quality of life in the seventeenth century and before and come back.

          3. “…How are you defining “prosperity”?”

            How about pooping in a porcelain pot without concern for interruption by a passing bear?
            Are you trying for the ‘noble savage’ award today?

            1. I would prefer the porcelain pot to the passing bear, but I would prefer the bear to the cheka, etc. I think this stuff is way complicated.

              1. I would prefer the bear to the cheka

                So would most anybody here.

                What does the cheka have to do with free market capitalism?

                Bonus question – what does the cheka have to do with your notions of Human Community and Central Economic Planning?

              2. “…I think this stuff is way complicated.”

                Yes, I’m sure if you make up enough shit, you can prove to other sophists that living longer, happier and more prosperous lives really doesn’t mean much.
                The rest of us? Naah; that bullshit’s been peddled before.

  12. “The United States has more people living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country,” intoned leftist Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

    When you define poverty as the bottom quintile, then by definition 20% of a growing population will always be in poverty. So yeah, that number’s gonna rise. Duh.

    1. Shush, s — you’re harshing Bernie’s buzz.

    2. Poverty is relative. I grew up in what I would now describe as a working poor household. But so was everyone in my neighborhood so I never felt poor until I was older and could view it relative to different standards.

      1. That’s envy, not poverty.

        1. I didn’t feel envy as a kid. At least not because of my living conditions. My point is that most American households falling into the “poverty” threshold would be be average relative to world standards.

          1. My point is that most American households falling into the “poverty” threshold would be be average relative to world standards.

            Poor Americans aren’t just average by world standards, they’re fucking rich.

            1. Poor Americans aren’t just average by world standards, they’re fucking rich.

              That was true 25 years ago. Nowadays not so much.

              1. Which is not to say that we’ve gotten poorer – just that most other countries now have their very own middle classes.

    3. When you define poverty as not having free healthcare and free college and free housing and a good job at good pay and an above-average middle-class lifestyle, the poverty rate is somewhere around 50%.

    4. FINALLY! Someone speaks sense.

      What Bernie calls poverty, was called middle class 30 or 40 years ago. And just as sarcasmic notes, he gets my with it with the use of statistics.

      My father, a surprisingly (compared to my youthful arrogance) wise man, said that anyone can lie, but to be good at it requires statistics.

  13. The Guardian article attacking Bill Gates is by Jason Hickel, a rather notorious writer who couldn’t understand a logical argument if it bit him in the ass.

    Let’s look at some rather hilarious quotes from the article:
    “Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor.”

    It would seem Mr. Hickel doesn’t understand what ‘subsistence’ means. He’s simply wrong on the facts here – they were definitely poor, and they definitely didn’t have personal access to plentiful resources. They would have had little leisure time, and to imagine spending your day engaged in hard labor just to scrape by is not ‘poverty’, regardless of ‘money’, is just ridiculous. In fact, Mr. Hickel seems to be implying that capitalism somehow *created* poverty, despite the fact that there has been poverty as long as we’ve had written records, long before capitalism was ever a thing.

    (He falls into the fallacy of thinking that ‘native’ ways of life are superior to western ways just because they’re native, without actually bothering to even figure out, much less understand, how natives actually lived.)

    Or how about:
    “So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.”

    Notice how he shifts from the *percentage* of people to the raw number of people when he contrasts the claims? This lets him conflate population growth with poverty. If you look at percentages, the percentage living at *any* low number of dollars per day has declined substantially. But because population has grown rapidly in the 20th century, the raw numbers of people at many income levels have ballooned as a consequence. Population quadrupled in the 20th century. If 90% of population were below this inflation-adjusted $7.40/day in 1900, that would only be ~1.4 billion people. If by 2000, only 50% of the population were below that same $7.40/day, that would still be over 3 billion people. Not only is this being dishonest with the handling of the numbers, it’s missing the real story, which is that the world in 2000 has over 3 billion people living above $7.40 per day compared to ~100 million in 1900. He’s acting like it’s poverty that needs to be explained when the reality is that it’s wealth that needs to be explained, and that’s a massive increase in pretty widely distributed wealth. (Percentages used above are given for argument’s sake about why we need to look at percentages rather than raw numbers, they’re not the ‘real percentages, although they probably aren’t too far off. World population approximations are based on wikipedia).

    It’s probably also worth noting that the biggest barrier to poverty alleviation globally is government. (While the governments of wealthy countries have their problems, at the international level the problem is the governments of these poor countries which redirect wealth to the coffers of people in power. To imagine capitalism is somehow responsible for that is nonsense).

    1. In fact, Mr. Hickel seems to be implying that capitalism somehow *created* poverty, despite the fact that there has been poverty as long as we’ve had written records, long before capitalism was ever a thing.

      You don’t get it. Poverty is a relative thing. In an unequally rich society, the least rich live in poverty. In an equally poor society, no one lives in poverty.

      That’s why poverty is rampant here, while Venezuela has very little poverty.

      1. I’m happy to be poor and have toilet paper, than not poor and lack toilet paper. (and food, and…)

    2. Rousseau will never die. Though I wish some of his admirers would.
      Thank you for saving me a long, boring read with your debunking of that article.

    3. This is from the Vox explainer about the Gates tweet:

      “Hickel is on firm ground in calling for a higher poverty line. Lots of development economists think a more useful line would be higher, maybe much higher — Kenny and economist Lant Pritchett have argued in various places for a line of $10 to $15 a day, much closer to the US poverty line (about $17.60 per person per day for a family of four).”

      I’m living in Cambodia now at about the 17.60 a day per person rate, and I’m living pretty damn well. I’m not including things like my ongoing bills back in the States like my car payment, cell phone, or my son’s tuition. But I can say definitively that a 15-17 a day rate in much of the third world won’t just take someone out of abject poverty but would vault them into the upper middle class.

      1. The cost of living in those countries are much lower than ours.

        Liberals are PISSED, because Gates also predicts that world poverty will disappear within 25 years or so. Ooops.

  14. I’m sorry, but the bitching is nearly unanimous in reddit: you’re poor because life is unfair in the favor of rich people and no amount of effort on your part will make any difference.

    Then you’re supposed to vote for Bernie Sanders.

    1. Taking that a step further, it’s not that effort cannot make a difference. It’s that these people are simply less productive. They think they’re entitled to similar results because they tried hard. That’s why leftists always attack the rich. They say they didn’t earn their wealth legitimately, or that they exploited others to get it, and that’s why it’s acceptable for them to use violence and govt coercion to take it back. If they didn’t argue with Marxist logic, leftists would be left with the stark, brutal reality that they’re simply entitled, inadequate people with terrible attitudes, most likely resulting from their lack of a moral (dare I say religious) upbringing that taught them not to be jealous or to covet.

      1. <i"their lack of a moral (dare I say religious) upbringing"

        Lack of a religious upbringing is an excuse they don’t deserve. My parents were as unreligious (areligious?) as you could be, yet we were constantly told as kids “Life’s not fair” , “Mind your own business” and “If it’s not yours, leave it alone.”

        Of course, my parents never went to college, so there’s that…

        1. Wow – your parents sound exactly like mine. When I would sleep over at a friends house on a Saturday night where I would wind up going to church with my friend’s family on Sunday, my mom would tell me “now, keep in mind you don’t have to listen to what those people say, and don’t let them bully you into anything!”

          Yet, ““Life’s not fair” , “Mind your own business” and “If it’s not yours, leave it alone” were pretty constant litanies.

          Also not college educated, so clearly you and I weren’t raised right . . .

  15. (Don’t tell Trumpsters this, but the best thing that could happen to these hard-edged towns—with their low-cost real estate and aging populations—is an influx of immigrants.)

    I’m not saying that an influx of immigrants would be a bad thing, but why would it automatically be a good thing?

    This reminds me of the Douglas Murray quip, that you’d never catch anyone saying, “What Eritrea really needs is an influx of millions of Scotsmen.”

    1. Welch is really referring to illegals, and not immigrants. Because he’s obsessed with open borders. Welch also no longer has any credibility.

      1. I’d be perfectly willing to let him make his case, how an influx if immigrants would help the existing population in depressed places in flyover country…

        There might be a legit case for it, but I don’t know what it might be.

        1. Poor immigrants will drive up property values. Duh!

          This ain’t rocket surgery here! Haha

          1. Or maybe they’ll come in and invigorate the economy by… creating jobs? That would suggest that all the immigrants are entrepreneurial in nature and will build business and hire the locals.

            Or maybe they’ll just show up and look for jobs themselves and their mere presence will create a bottom-up demand for businesses to open and cater to them.

            The former is possible, but that suggests a certain type of immigrant is going to flood into the area.

            The latter is less likely because if the area is already depressed due to lack of employment opportunities, suddenly broadening the labor pool isn’t going to automatically fix that.

            1. Indeed illegal immigrants are known for being entrepreneurial abilities AND being flush with capital to start all those businesses in areas where most others are already without jobs. ‘Cause the chief lack in a town where there are 100 applicants for every job is another 100 applicants that don’t speak English,

              Nick looks for any excuse to stump for open borders. Logic and facts just get in the way.

        2. It is an article of faith, he does not have to make a xase.

          1. Immigrants to a specific area, from inside or outside the country go to a place because they see opportunities. A rare one may see a potential to create opportunities where none currently exists. But just throwing immigrants into a mix does not in itself create opportunity.

            1. Exactly. If there are no opportunities there, then there’s probably little reason immigrants would WANT to flood into the area. No, the process has to be more organic than that– as any libertarian should know.

              Maybe some company decides they want to build a facility there because labor and property are cheap. Often times those types of projects take time– word gets out that X Inc is opening a 100,000 sq foot facility. As the project gets closer, people from around the region begin to apply for jobs. If the jobs pay enough, they may pull in from a fairly wide area. If there are high skilled jobs within that mix of labor– they may pull in people from all over the country- including immigrants. If the company proves to be successful, it will generate secondary opportunities for employees and their families. Suppliers may pop up in the region etc.

              But just saying, “Hey, an influx of immigrants will fix this problem” is weak tea.

              1. The other part of that is that the reason there tend to be ethnic enclaves is those tend to provide more opportunity for new immigrants.

  16. “Don’t tell Trumpsters this, but the best thing that could happen to these hard-edged towns—with their low-cost real estate and aging populations—is an influx of immigrants.”

    Funny how they very vocally do not want immigrants. It’s almost like libertarians care about pursuit of self interest or something…whoa

  17. >>Trump-supporting pundits

    T’s message is bright. I don’t know about his supporting pundits

  18. “Obviously, in a land of 329 million flawed human beings ”

    Glad I’m not on that list.

  19. This all makes more sense when you realize that government is nothing more than a protection racket. People realized that there was going to be some form of strong man skimming off the top, and so they devised a system whereby they could control that strongman to an extent.

    But the incentives are for that strongman to continue increasing the take. In warlord or dictator scenarios, this is only stopped by an eventual uprising and overthrow of the dictator. But we have evolved a neat fix for this…. divide the strongman in two. With our two party system, we get to keep throwing the “bad strongman” out and replacing him with the “good strongman”. Back and forth… with nobody focusing on how the monster keeps on growing.

    It is actually a pretty sharply crafted way of doing it. They are spending 25% of the economy while only taking in 19% of the economy – raising the rest through debt that they don’t have to pay back themselves.

    A dictator or warlord wouldn’t dare skim a quarter off the top. That’s way too much. That gets you villagers with pitchforks and torches.

    1. And by “throwing out” the strongman, you mean we send him off to life in the lap of luxury, then we let his buddy/apprentice take his place in 4 to 8 years.

      Also, 25% only works because they let the market be fairly free and they provide fairly strong property rights. There’s a lot of risk to the individual in a revolution. That’s why people won’t revolt unless they feel their lives are already at stake. Well, you can steal a lot more from rich people than the poor.

      1. Well, you can steal a lot more from rich people than the poor.

        Actually, it’s much harder to steal from the rich than the poor, because the rich can defend themselves. Trouble with the poor is that they don’t have anything to steal.

        That’s why the smart kleptocrat targets the middle class, while claiming that they’re “soaking the rich.”

    2. With our two party system, we get to keep throwing the “bad strongman” out and replacing him with the “good strongman”. Back and forth… with nobody focusing on how the monster keeps on growing.

      ^ Exactly this.

  20. “The populist Right isn’t much better. … Their policy prescriptions (more government) aren’t remarkably different from those championed on the Left”

    How truly stupid and dishonest.

    Like him or not, Trump has cut THOUSANDS of regulations during his first term that the left would have maintained and want to add THOUSANDS of more.

    You can legitimately critique Trump, but equate him to the left? Are you stupid or dishonest?

  21. I love when ignorant journalists and academic talk about “Appalachia” as if were one monolithic market and demographic.

  22. Just for laughs, today the Cook Report ran a story on the New Hampshire race and ran this line: ‘Sanders’ anti-establishment, blue-collar and libertarian constituency is well-represented in the “Live Free or Die State.”’

    1. Yeah, Sanders has been a voice for reducing America’s wars and funding for the military. Perfectly consistent with libertarian values soldier

      1. LeaveTrumpAloneLibertarian
        February.7.2020 at 7:15 pm
        “Yeah, Sanders has been a voice for reducing America’s wars and funding for the military…”

        And scumbags like you leave out that he’ll still have to raise taxes to fund his fantasies.

  23. I think things are pretty good too, Steven. This liberal got a tax cut from Dear Leader so, hey, even if I think Trump is a despicable serial predator and liar he gave me a tax cut so that kind of balances things out. If I were a poor rube from Kentucky who was getting fucked in the ass by Trump’s budget priorities I might be pissed and want to start a class-based revolution against an elitist oligarchy and a system based upon phony bought-and-paid-for bullshit elections, but I guess they’ve got Jesus, oxy, and a Colt 45 to keep them warm. Meh.

    1. “…even if I think Trump is a despicable serial predator and liar…”

      This from the scumbag deadbeat.
      What ever you ‘think’ really isn’t worth shit.

    2. “Gave me a tax cut……..”

      All money belongs to almighty government. We are lucky that they let us keep anything at all. You are right to be thankful. Now, stay on your knees.

      Haha.

  24. I was just in a museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was astounded by the dark-as-night daytime photos of the pollution-clogged city.

    Go Pens.

    1. “I was just in a museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was astounded…to find that not only were the residents fluent in English but I was able to purchase a passable latte in my foray to the downtown area.”

  25. “Instead of welcoming this good news, commentators [The Guardian] chided Gates for pointing it out.”

    Look, ass hats like at the Guardian will have no reason to live if they can’t save the world (and save it in a socialist utopian way). They not only need readers to think that the world is worse than ever, they need those readers to think the blame lies with every entity not the Guardian.

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  29. I’d wager that his visit to Appalachia was a little town called “Charlottesville.”

    1. Charlottesville? Where our lying sack of shit President LIED, to defend his nazi and racist supporters?

      THERE’S ONE ISSUE FROM CHARLOTTESVILE:. WHO INITIATED VIOLENCE EVERYTHING ELSE IS DESPERATION and DIVERSION by the Alt-right


      The initial assault.

      “Alt-Left” standing peacefully, no visible clubs or bats.
      Alt-Right Facsists/Racists crash into them en massse, swinging clubs.
      Fascists are carrying the same shields as cops in riot gear. They CAME for violence

      These are Nazis, Racists and Jew-Haters. Ivanka and Jerod are Jewish.
      Trump threw his own daughter under a bus, playing to the very worst in his
      base.

      But … but …. HILLARY’S EMAILS!

      1. Fuck off, Hihn. And die.

        1. Authoritarian goober is always pissed, whenever I link to undeniable proof that our President is a lying sack of shit! 🙂

          So — just like his equivalent authoritarians on the left. — he shouts down anyone who dares to deviate from the “One True Faith” … Is he correct? Can he beating his chest and bellowing change reality? I checked my link. Nope. The video still proves Trump supports nazis and racists with sick-as-fuck lies.

          HEY SEVO CHUMP !
          Since you INSIST …. .
          Here’s MORE proof that Trump (and you) are liars ,… supporting nazis and racists.
          (vomit)

          ((my emphasis)
          4 men charged in violent Charlottesville rally described as ‘serial rioters’

          Three members of a white supremacist group were sentenced to prison Friday for kicking, choking and punching multiple people during the 2017 “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville and other rallies in California. The three were members of the California-based militant white supremacist organization “Rise Above Movement.”.

          A fourth defendant, Cole Evan White, will be sentenced at a later date, the attorney’s office said.

          “These defendants, motivated by hateful ideology, incited and committed acts of violence in Charlottesville, as well at other purported political rallies in California,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said.

          “They were not interested in peaceful protest or lawful First Amendment expression; instead, they intended to provoke and engage in street battles with those that they perceived as their enemies.”

          Trump’s not the only psycho on the alt-right. Nor the only one loyal to party, NOT country. (U.S. Attorney means Trump’s DOJ)

          This is what Trump has accelerated (not started) in America. That people would sink SO LOW to defend actions SO VILE. I’m looking at you, Sevo.

          1. Fuck off and die, Hihn.

            1. Fuck off and die, Hihn.

              I have too much fun proving you an infantile asshole.

      2. “But … but …. HILLARY’S EMAILS!”

        BTW, you pathetic piece of shit, the actions of a couple of right wing thugs do not absolve that hag of bypassing the FOIA.
        Except to pathetic pieces of shit like you.

        1. FUCKUP #6 ON THIS PAGE!

          the actions of a couple of right wing thugs do not absolve that hag of bypassing the FOIA.

          I NEVER SAID IT DID, GOMER.
          BUT, YES, TRUMP IS INDEED A RIGHT-WING THUG!!!

          (More than a couple, there were nearly hundred, in the VIDEO PROOF that Trump, the lying sack of shit, lied to defend your nazi and racist colleagues)

    2. +100

  30. Bloomie commercial:
    ‘1,000,000 more people are uninsured since Trump!!!!!’
    No mention that many of those folks choose not to have insurance. Mike doesn’t care what you choose, he’ll tell you what to do!

    1. No mention that many of those folks choose not to have insurance.

      HOW many, blowhard? (sneer)

      Mike doesn’t care what you choose, he’ll tell you what to do!

      Sevo doesn’t care that he FAILED … BIGLY
      HE will tell you what to THINK, as his authoritarian right has done for centuries.

      1. Fuck off and die, Hihn.
        Oh, and I’m sure Trumps acquittal was just icing on the cake! Here you and that hag lost in 2016, after all those years, Mueller told you you were full of shit, and now, after trying to impeach Trump for a late library book return, you got it jammed in your face once more.
        Fuck off and die where your stink won’t bother anyone. I’ll be nice: Please.

        1. (snort) Typical Trumptard

        2. Sevo
          No mention that many of those folks choose not to have insurance.

          LTT
          HOW many, blowhard? (sneer)

          ANOTHER FAIL!
          AND ANOTHER COWARDLY DIVERSION!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
          (THAT is why Barr issued a public statement that he disagreed.

          Mueller told you you were full of shit,

          PSYCHO LIAR!

          ***REPEAT …. HOW many, blowhard (sneer)

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  32. I don’t think Team D is going to be able to send a credible message to the electorate along the lines of, “Gee, things are so terrible economically and you just can’t find a job”. That issue has effectively been neutered. How so? Just look at your 401K, and compare to 11/9/2016.

    The best thing I see happening is the ‘deep poverty’ rate is falling very quickly, from ~10% in late 2016 to ~8% today. That is pretty good, and I hope that downward trend continues.

    1. I don’t think Team D is going to be able to send a credible message to the electorate along the lines of, “Gee, things are so terrible economically and you just can’t find a job”

      That’s why none of them are trying, despite your raving hysteria.

      But Trump is a massive failure, compared with Obama.
      1) Already added more 8-year debt (CBO 2024 forecast), than Obama added AFTER 8 years.
      2) LESS jobs creation (Obama’s final 3 years vs Trump’s first 3)
      3) SLOWER economic growth (GDP growth COLLAPSED for 2019, to 2.3%, from 2.9% for 2018, a 21% decline)

      Even worse, if you know Obama inherited the 3rd worst economy since WWII … and handed Trump the longest recovery EVER for an incoming President..

      So … NEVER google official data and ALWAYS believe one of the worst liars in the world, precious snowflake.

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