In the U.S. there's widespread acceptance that our nation's poor, who've been shut out of the system for many different reasons, should be helped. There's also widespread acceptance that people who cannot help themselves through no fault of their own should receive the proper assistance. No one much argues against this type of help -- however, not many are looking for better ways to accomplish these committments.
A wealthy country should find it in its interest to help the poor enter the marketplace and become self-supporting, and compassion inspires us to help for moral reasons. However, we don't have to endanger production and economic growth in order to provide a safety net. Too many on the left approach the problem of poverty from an antagonist stance against a free market, as if the wealth creation of successful businespeople is the cause of poverty, but that's not how it works. Production and wealth grow the total amount of wealth available -- there's no set amount of wealth that leaves less for poor as the rich become richer -- when the rich become richer there's more wealth altogether.
Those who really care about the poor should want a booming economy with as much wealth created as possible. Anti-capitalist are simply fighting a war against capitalism, not a war against poverty. The anti-capitalists who claim to be concerned about poverty are blinded by their hatred of the rich to the point they can't see innovative, private realm solutions, so they automatically resort to the default solution of the welfare state. The welfare state has failed -- its going bust and has made the problem of poverty worse in many ways. Ghettoes, welfare checks and poorly run, cash-strapped community social programs are antiquated ways to deal with the problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of education or the skills necessary for the poor to rise above poverty. The poor and uneducated are largely forgotten, because most people have pushed it to the State to handle and the State has handled it poorly. There's a lack of attention paid to individual needs and solutions. Not that the social workers aren't good people trying hard to deal with a difficult problem, but the government isn't adept at developing a system which can effectively deal with the problems.
I've dealt with a good may people who are in the government system and I can state from my knowledge of the problem that the government has given up on making progress or becoming creatively successful at truly helping people. The social workers are overloaded, burned out and stuck in a dull and outmoded system which generates cynicism instead of inspiration, new ideas and approaches.
If we don't do somthing soon, 80% of the American people will be doing well, while 20% of the American people will be stuck outside the marketplace getting by on bare subsistence, dependent on government handouts. This is not help, it's inhuman neglect. Plus, if the welfare system continues to erode, the waste will be a heavy burden on the economy, costing taxpayers more and more for poorer results.
I've written about this from several different angles on this blog because I don't see many addressing the possibility of private realm solutions to poverty and the sad shape of the welfare state. Perhaps most people don't think the private realm would respond sufficiently, but this certainly isn't based on facts showing a lack of concern or ability within the private sector. Americans are generous, and I believe there's a frustrated desire among Americans to contribute and develope solutions to the societal problems of our day.
Perhaps I'm delusional, but I have a crystal clear vision of how the broad strokes would unfold. Because people are dissatisfied with government efforts, challenging the private sector to come up with solutions would likely be met with energy and spirit. I would like to use the word Spirit, capitalized, to describe the latent energy in society desiring to be a part of the solutions and to take actions which matter, which make a difference - especially if transparency and interaction can give people a real sense of purpose and accomplishment.
The following posts will outline my vision of how the private sector could help the poor. Remember, this is about actually helping the poor, not about sticking it to rich people.