The poverty lobby – as opposed to those who actually want to put an end to poverty – uses the "poor" as a political weapon in its ideological war against the market economy. That argument, which many of us have made over the years, is forcefully reiterated in an excellent post by Philip Booth of the IEA. As Professor Booth points out, the official campaigning groups which make use of the poor as fodder for their anti-capitalist rhetoric never seem to address the critical issue of the cost of living in their accounts of relative poverty, even though excessive charges for home energy, child care and housing (which are heavily inflated by taxation and government regulation) are among the chief drivers of household hardship.
Where, he says, is the argument for less regulation and more market competition which would really help poorer households by bringing down their costs? Nowhere in the prospectus of the poverty groupies do these get a mention. The campaigners prefer to preserve the poor as a permanent moral affront with which to castigate our callous capitalist society, instead of contributing to a useful discussion on the factors that are keeping people poor.
Published in The Telegraph. Read the full article here.