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The Economy

Guess That Whole ‘Actually Helping Poor People’ Thing Is Over Now

Giving people money has been a huge success so naturally we are stopping!

President Joe Biden meets with White House staff in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, prior to his meeting with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
FDR II, everyone!!!
Adam Schultz/White House

Here’s some very encouraging news on the front page of Thursday’s New York Times: you know all that money the government handed out to people over the past year? It made a difference!

From the Times (emphasis mine):

The huge increase in government aid prompted by the coronavirus pandemic will cut poverty nearly in half this year from prepandemic levels and push the share of Americans in poverty to the lowest level on record, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of a vast but temporary expansion of the safety net.

The number of poor Americans is expected to fall by nearly 20 million from 2018 levels, a decline of almost 45 percent. The country has never cut poverty so much in such a short period of time, and the development is especially notable since it defies economic headwinds — the economy has nearly seven million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic.

Well how about that? Just giving people money, as a certain blog has been advocating for basically its entire existence, is good and it works. In fact, it works really well—historically, unprecedentedly well. And all that government intervention didn’t tank the economy or anything—just the opposite. The latest figures show that the economy has now exceeded its pre-pandemic levels, and businesses are adding jobs at a robust rate. It’s almost as if substantial government aid to make sure that millions of people don’t languish in poverty is kind of a win-win. Surely we as a people will learn from this and eagerly move to solidify the miraculous achievements of the last year, right? LOL.

From the Times (emphasis mine):

The extraordinary reduction in poverty has come at extraordinary cost, with annual spending on major programs projected to rise fourfold to more than $1 trillion. Yet without further expensive new measures, millions of families may find the escape from poverty brief. The three programs that cut poverty most — stimulus checks, increased food stamps and expanded unemployment insurance — have ended or are scheduled to soon revert to their prepandemic size.

What do you call a country that implements a wildly successful series of policies and then abandons them? I guess you call that country the United States of America. What do you call the party that makes that rotten choice? The Democrats.

Far from touting the incredible results of these programs and trying to build on them, Democrats are eagerly running in the other direction. Joe Biden has been at pains, for instance, to stress that expanded unemployment insurance is coming to an end in September. The party’s newly anointed superstar, Eric Adams, has been telling Republican audiences that “people have become soft” and “don’t even want to go back to work.” Another stimulus check? Yeah, probably not going to happen. The Biden administration is now letting protections against evictions lapse too, despite a pathetic last-minute suggestion that maybe Congress should do something about all that.

It does not take a genius to predict what will happen when this government aid is withdrawn. People who were lifted out of poverty will sink back down again and will be told it’s their own fault. Perhaps the incoming mayor of New York City will tell them they’re “soft.” And everyone will likely just accept that this is the way things are—that a country like the U.S. will just have millions and millions of people in poverty because what else are you going to do, and also because poor people deserve to be poor. The reality—that we are consciously choosing, every single day, to maintain an inhumane level of poverty, even though we know exactly how to solve the problem—will likely not enter into it too much.

The Times story has a depressing number of examples showing how deeply rooted the propaganda about poverty is. It’s so deeply rooted that people whose lives were transformed by government aid are still criticizing that aid. From the Times:

Payments also went to people who kept their jobs, which helps explain why “near poverty” fell. The beneficiaries included John Asher of Indianapolis, who once served prison time for selling drugs but is now sober and earning $500 a week as a maintenance man. With $3,200 in stimulus checks, Mr. Asher, 49, was able to leave a boardinghouse, rent an apartment and take custody of an autistic son, who he feared would go to foster care.

But he said he distrusted “the crooked government” and urged poor people to help themselves. “If you want to change your life, you have to get up and do something — not sit home and get free money,” he said.

Sigh. In other news, Senate Democrats voted en masse last week to give the military even more money than the White House was asking for. That’s what’s known as “priorities.” Sorry, poor people, but there are missiles that need attention.