poverty There are various competing accounts and
criteria of poverty. Some have an absolute conception often in terms of *need, but there are
problems with that (discussed in the entry on need). Others prefer a relative
conception, but there are great problems with that too. In particular it can
entail that there will always be poverty as long as there is inequality (so
this definition suits *politically correct *ideologues), and
that means while humans exist (which suits those *academics and *charity-workers
living off the ‘poverty industry’: the overclass that needs to maintain the existence
of the underclass). Also the degree of the alleviation of poverty, and to what
extent it matters, might not be clear as the goal posts keep being moved.

Assume an absolute conception that is not needlessly precise: poverty is
some low and desperate standard of living such that normal human flourishing is
difficult or impossible. This is undoubtedly a severe *welfare problem,
but one that might ultimately be solved. We can distinguish the two most important
questions. What is the cause of poverty? What is the cure for poverty? A
plethora of answers have been forthcoming from different academic disciplines
and different *ideologies. Rather than attempt to list and discuss them all, this entry
will give the answers that might be expected from *libertarianism. The
overwhelming proximate cause of poverty is severe *political
interference in an *economy. And the fastest and most complete solution to
poverty is *free-market *anarchy.

Thus this is just an extreme example of the general point that the more
political interference you suffer the more your welfare and *liberty will be
destroyed; and the more you approach free-market anarchy the more that welfare
and liberty will be enhanced. So it is not necessary to abolish *politics completely
to, start to, solve the problem of poverty. Any moves in the right direction should
help: significantly lowering *taxes, abolishing *minimum wage legislation;
allowing *free trade, *depoliticizing industry, scrapping building codes that
cause *homelessness; *freedom of travel and migration, etc. See the relevant
entries for explanations.

Even if we take a relative conception of poverty, then poverty is alleviated by the fact that the market tends
toward long-run *equality
while the state tends to create an underclass that falls ever lower behind the
average. So cutting welfare benefits is, ironically but utterly, germane to
raising the standards of this artificial underclass.

See *aid, foreign; *democide; *famine; *less-developed countries.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism