Evaluating the State as a vehicle for poverty alleviation

Please read my post from yesterday if you haven’t yet. It will help you understand the argument I make today.

Here is a diagram I made based on the essay I linked yesterday. Notice how far removed the recipients are from the donors (taxpayers). Also notice the accountability loop:

Did Jesus intend for donors (taxpayers) and recipients to be so far removed from each other?

Is Jesus happy with this system? I don’t know. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The verses in the New Testament indicate that we are to give to the poor directly–that is the plain reading of the texts. Why did he phrase it like that? Was it so that we would be close to the poor, to look at them, to touch them, breathe the same air they breath, see how they live? I think so. In the state-sponsored system, we see how far removed donors and recipients are from each other.

Somebody might counter that this is OK because it is an agency relationship. If so, I disagree. This isn’t a true agency relationship, since it is based on fear/coerced “giving” and the principal (taxpayer) does not have direct control over the agent (the state). For example, try not paying the portion of your taxes that would otherwise go to the poor. Tell the IRS that you will donate that money to a worthy charity instead. See how much control you have (as the principal) over the agent (the IRS). It is actually the other way around. The agent controls the relationship. That is fine as far as it goes (Romans 13:1-7), but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a true agency. It isn’t.

philemon-1-14So our state-sponsored poverty alleviation system is not an agency, it is based on fear or coercion, it lacks accountability to the donor (taxpayer), it separates donors from recipients, it fosters moral hazard/rent-seeking behaviors, it thwarts intact family formation, and creates occasions for temptations to various kinds of sin (for the donors/taxpayers, the administrators, and the transfer recipients). A lot of people like this system, even those who are not transfer recipients. I wonder how they get around all of the problems I mentioned. Do the the ends justify the means in this case?


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

1 thought on “Evaluating the State as a vehicle for poverty alleviation”

  1. Significant poverty alleviation could and would happen if the State got out of the way. By promoting pro-growth policies and reducing excessive and counter-productive regulations, the State could encourage and foster economic growth that leads to economic opportunity for all.

    Liked by 1 person

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