Friday, February 21, 2014

Anti-Poverty Means Anti-Rich

Let's start by taxing billionaires out of existence.

Peter Marcuse in a letter to The Nation:

Re Greg Kaufman’s “Building an Anti-Poverty Movement” [Feb. 3]: It’s good to call attention to the shameful way our economy exploits the poor and how inadequately our government responds. But calling the problem “poverty” focuses on just half of it. It accepts the idea that the poor are responsible for their own problems, and families can pull themselves up through hard work and “climb the ladder of opportunity” (Obama in the State of the Union address), perhaps with a little help up from government. It’s an idea Nation writers reject. But they skirt the fact that you then have to confront the reality that the poor are so poor because the rich are so rich.

The focus on poverty can help avoid exactly that conclusion. Criticizing the rich smacks of “class war” and raises uncomfortable questions about the 1 percent and whether they deserve to reap so disproportionate a share of the wealth that increasing productivity provides them.

Seriously addressing inequality rather than only poverty would undercut the president’s justification of inequality in the State of the Union message­—that “we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success.” Even if their efforts come from financial and employment practices that cause widespread joblessness and that very poverty that is being attacked?

Tackling poverty involves tackling inequality, tackling the wealth of the rich as well as the poverty of the poor. An anti-poverty movement needs to be willing to say that, out loud.
 The super rich are anathema to democratic society.

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