Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unintended Consequences

History teaches us repeatedly that governmental actions often have the very opposite of the desire consequences: attempts to reduce drug use result in more drugs being abused; attempts to improve education lead to lower student achievement. So also with poverty, as Harvard's Thomas Woods explains:

The classic study of 1960's social policy, which practically defined the terms of welfare reform in the 1990's, was Charles Murray's Losing Ground. That book advanced the provocative thesis that the Great Society programs, as well as increased AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) availability, were themselves largely to blame for the stagnation of the poor. These programs, in short, were not only expensive, but they were also counterproductive.

President Johnson had used the slogan "The Great Society" in presenting his welfare programs, which prompts Woods to ask: "The truth about welfare: Did Johnson's programs make poverty worse?"

Poor people have the best chance of getting out of poverty when the government does not try to help them!