The Role of the Government in Reducing Poverty Essay

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Introduction In 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued the pithiest expression of the modern American political conservative credo when he told a Chicago audience, “I've always felt that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.”1 While the current Republican administration is hardly an embodiment of this sentiment (President Bush has overseen the largest inflation-adjusted increase in federal spending since the Johnson Administration2), conservatives, at least in principle, believe in the notion of “small government” when it comes to social programs: less welfare, less federal control of education and Social Security privatization, among other proposals. The…show more content…
All too often in our highly partisan political atmosphere, politicians impute nefarious motives to their opponents rather than critique the intellectual arguments that are presented in contention. This sophistry does no one in our country – especially the poverty-stricken – any good. For the purposes of this paper, therefore, I will assume that those with whom I disagree have the best intentions and that the source of disagreement lies with the different methods we advocate as most appropriate in trying to reach these ends. Poverty, Not Inequality Democratic Socialist nations (an appellation which categorizes much of Western Europe, for example) provide an extensive safety net to ensure a basic standard of living for every citizen. No doubt, there are serious trade-offs in a democratic state’s decision to undertake socialist programs, not limited to high unemployment, workplace inefficiency, unwieldy labor union power and extremely high taxes on the most successful workers. My own political sympathies and life experiences place me in general opposition to socialist policies. Yet few reasonable observers would argue that democratic socialist societies are cruelly repressive because of their socialist nature (I stress the democratic aspect of socialism, for if the state were

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