By John Hawkins
Keeping Americans poor in a prosperous country like America is not as easy as you think. After all, this is the “land of opportunity.” Legal immigrants pay tens of thousands of dollars and wait years for the opportunity to come legally and illegal immigrants often risk their lives just so they can get here and do menial work. This is the country that made Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even OPRAH into billionaires and it’s a nation where you can have everything from hoverboards to medicine for your pet delivered right to your door. So when there’s so much wealth and opulence everywhere, how do you lock Americans out of that success?
No matter what you do, there will always be a few poor people around, but to really maximize those numbers there are very specific government policies abetted by a few cultural attitudes that will make all the difference. You want to make as many Americans poor as possible? Then start by….
1) Making Sure Taxes And Regulations Are Sky High: The biggest enemy of poverty is economic growth, which creates more jobs and higher wages. How do you slow down economic growth? One of the best ways to do it is to ratchet up the taxes and start pouring on the regulations. Let small business owners spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if they’re in compliance with some law they’ve never heard of instead of how to improve their service. Let them spend years working to make a profit and then take such a big chunk of the money they make that they want to give up. Make these small businesses spend thousands of dollars complying with nearly useless regulations instead of hiring new employees. Nobody is pulling himself out of poverty without a job and so the more jobs you kill, the better!
2) Encouraging Dependency: You want to keep people poor over the long haul? Then get them dependent on a government payment that will always keep them poor. Start them young! Get as many kids as possible used to taking handouts with free breakfast and lunch programs. Then when they’re adults, make it as easy as possible to get on the dole and stay on it. In fact, you should spend millions on advertising campaigns letting people know that they’re eligible to become dependent on the government. This keeps people stuck in a no man’s land where they’re still poor, but they’re just comfortable enough that they don’t feel compelled to work to get more. In fact, you may have people AVOIDING work that would get them out of poverty because they would lose their “benefits.” It also helps create the kind of entitlement mentality that causes people to demand their employer pay them more money instead of learning new skills or just moving on to another job. Get that hook stuck deep enough in their mouth and they’ll be lucky if they ever get it out.
3) Encouraging People To Have Babies Out Of Wedlock: You can put as happy a face as you want on it, but parenting is a two person job. When one person has to do it alone, it can be a backbreaker. Not only are kids’ time sinks, they are incredibly expensive.
That’s why it’s important to drench the culture in sex so that people feel like they’re missing out, right this second, because they’re reading this column instead of hooking up. Put welfare in place so that poor women don’t feel like they need to marry a less than ideal partner if they have a child and praise single mothers to the skies to help encourage young girls to get pregnant out of wedlock. Then you undermine marriage at every opportunity. Put a “marriage penalty” in tax law, encourage no fault divorce, support gay marriage. Let those marriages disintegrate and then not only do you have the parent struggling, but a child raised by a single parent is much more likely to do drugs, go to jail and have mental problems, all of which make it more likely that he will be poor as well. In other words, you often can get a poverty twofer: the parent AND child.
4) Demonizing Success: Slam rich people, corporations and anyone having any success as “greedy,” “evil,” and claim they’re “not paying their fair share.” The idea is to falsely portray success as “luck” at worst or at best, something people should feel guilty over. Not only does this keep poor Americans from trying to learn anything from the most financially successful people in society, it causes them to actually resent success. You want people protesting outside the banker’s office and demanding that his money be given away, not actually trying to pull themselves out of poverty by becoming bankers. Once financial success is viewed as evil, then by definition, only the poor can be virtuous and financial success will be de facto evidence of immorality.
5) Screwing Up The Education System: As the economy has become more dependent on educated workers, it has become more important than ever to keep kids from getting a good education if you want to keep them poor. This requires a two-pronged approach.
First, it’s important to keep pouring money into the public school system. That gives middle class Americans the false impression that something is being done to improve education; yet it never actually seems to improve education in our public schools. Additionally, kids who are homeschooled or go to private schools consistently outperform kids who go to public schools, which makes it very important to fight to keep as many children as possible stuck in failing public schools. A kid who can’t read is likely to stay poor.
Then on the college level, we should keep encouraging college kids to spend big money getting degrees that typically only help them get low paying jobs. As a practical matter in the world of Skype and FaceTime, there’s already no reason why an outstanding professor couldn’t cheaply teach 50,000 students across the country at the same time with a little planning. Obviously, that would be a disaster when we’re getting students to go $100,000 in debt on student loans to get philosophy, fine arts and women’s studies degrees. Good luck getting out of poverty when you have all that debt and are making $25,000 a year.
6) Having Massive Immigration: Supply and demand is the simplest law of economics. How does that help make Americans poor? Well, the more replaceable any worker is, the less money you need to pay him. Why pay an engineer a decent salary if you can easily replace him with an H-1B visa worker from India or China who’ll work for $30,000 less per year? It’s also no coincidence that America’s workforce participation rate is at a 38 year low (62.8%) while immigrants make up the largest share of America’s population (13.3%) that they have in the last 108 years. It’s vital to keep bringing in as many new immigrants as possible while so many Americans are unemployed to make sure that those people don’t get jobs. This is doubly true for illegal aliens, who are often competing for jobs with even poorer Americans while they are able to work even cheaper because they don’t have to pay for Obamacare or car insurance and they can cheat on their taxes with impunity. Any time someone suggests we start putting American workers first when it comes to immigration, call them racist and keep those floodgates wide open!
7) Ratcheting Up Their Expenses: Of course, if you want to create more poor Americans, it’s best to tax the middle class as much as possible, but in a country where they can vote you out of office, you have to be careful about directly reaching into their wallets. So, how do you take their money without their realizing that you’re responsible?
Have the Federal Reserve print money non-stop, which drives up inflation. Over time, that reduces the purchasing power of the middle class as the cost of everything seems to creep up. It’s also important to go after cheap sources of energy like oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Not only does that drive up the cost the middle class pays across the board for products, it also hits people directly when they heat and cool their homes. Exploding medical costs are also helpful and Obamacare has done an amazing job of this. Medical costs are skyrocketing for the middle class and helping to drive them towards poverty. As an extra added bonus, middle class Americans who can no longer afford to pay for their medical care because of Obamacare will also be hit with a tax penalty. If your goal is to hurt middle class Americans financially, you could not do much better than Obamacare.