A Texas woman recently shot her two children and then killed herself in a state welfare office after a months-long struggle to get food stamps. It’s a shocking story which casts harsh light on the desperation felt by many of the country’s poorest citizens. We don’t know precisely what happened to this woman to bring her to the point of ultimate despair, but we do know that millions are caught in a seemingly endless loop of bureaucratic red tape, conflicting regulations, and workers whose job seems to be finding ways to say “no.” There is something horribly wrong with our welfare system, and millions of Americans are going without the basic necessities.
It’s a worst-case scenario for Libertarians.
Yes, that’s what I meant to say. It’s a worst-case scenario for Libertarians. It’s the political death-knell for anyone with “Rand” in their name, and pretty much anyone who believes in their theories of welfare privatization. It’s ironic, because free-market enthusiasts are chomping at the bit to use the failing welfare system as “proof” that we need to turn things over to private entities, churches, and for-profit agencies. They’ve been so vocal about it that we forgot to ask the most obvious question: If the free market is so great at providing for poor people, why are there so many poor people in the most unregulated and least taxed free market in the First World?
America is not under a tax burden. It’s suffering from a deficit in tax revenue. That’s… the opposite of a tax burden. Particularly in the highest brackets, taxes are extraordinarily low. Corporations pay virtually nothing in taxes, and profits are as high as they’ve ever been. The rich haven’t been so rich since before the First War to End All Wars. We have no shortage of either well-off private entities or poor people who need help.
And there’s almost no help forthcoming.
What might a Libertarian say when confronted with the apparent destruction of their sociopolitical philosophy? I suspect he’d suggest that if we lower taxes even more, people will become more benevolent, but we just discussed that canard. The rich are not suffering in the slightest under an IRS burden. The richest 4% have enough in reserve to treat the entire country to dinner for years without even a modest drop in their own standard of living.
There’s also the pesky fact that if tax rates on these very rich were a bit less modest, there wouldn’t be as many poor people because… well… there would be more tax revenue. Tax revenue is what funds welfare. Welfare is what pays for the necessities for poor people.