U.S. Inequality: Let’s Take Our Criticism of Hamas to Heart

In the great debate regarding Israel-Palestine, the evil nature of Hamas is regularly relied upon by the Zionist crowd for, well, just about everything Israel does. One of the frequent talking points of Americans in the pro-Israel crowd is to condemn Hamas for its diversion of resources that could be used to improve conditions in Gaza to its resistance fighting. I’m not sure how this justifies Israel’s actions, but the talking point is relied upon regularly.

There’s that old expression: Before you can talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

So, I wonder. What if we Americans took the Zionist criticism of Hamas to heart by discontinuing the diversion of just 20% of the resources currently consumed by the military, and instead used those resources to improve life for the poorest of Americans? Here’s what:

1. We still would have far and away the largest military in the world.

2. We would eliminate poverty in America.

So, let’s heed the words of the Zionists among us, and hold ourselves to at least the same standard to which they seek to hold Hamas, okay?

11 responses to “U.S. Inequality: Let’s Take Our Criticism of Hamas to Heart

  1. Bob, I don’t know if you will see this or not, but it took me a while to develop a response to your comment that we could conquer poverty if we just did it differently than we have. You described a graph that demonstrated what you were saying.

    Well, that prompted me to go into the storeroom and dif out my youngest sons economic books he left behind when he set off on life’s big adventure. He’s a liberal Democrat, by the way, despite the stellar example I set for him. Perhaps when he matures a little he will see the error of his ways. ;o)

    Anyway, I found the books useless in either developing an argument against your explanation or in favor of it. So, since I trust you, I will accept your analysis as correct. In that case, WHY haven’t we done it?!?!? And please don’t just blame the evil Republicans because the Poverty Programs were written and designed by Democrats. Why didn’t they write the correct type of programs to eliminate poverty? I can’t imagine anyone actually wants poverty, so what happened? We have spent over a Trillion Dollars since Lyndon Johnson and things are – I believe – worse than before.

    If we haven’t done it by now, how can you hold out hope that we will suddenly see the light and do it the future? I hope you have some solid answers because I sincerely do not like anyone living in poverty. I am just jingoistic enough to believe this is the greatest nation on earth and our poverty rate does not fit with that image. If there is an answer, I would sure like to know what it is.

    • Steve, I don’t think the Democrats are especially great on this front, so I don’t view it as a partisan thing. In fact, the economist who makes the most sense on this front may be Milton Friedman, who advocated a negative income tax. I know as a tax lawyer I find unbeliveably stupid things in the tax code from time to time, where the incentives are structured the opposite of how they were intended to be. It may go back to that old line about a camel being a horse designed by committee. The notion that Congress would enact a benefit program that actually penalized people for working is stupefying, but it does happen. All the time. Part of it is the committee thing. The other part may be budgetary foolishness wreaking havoc. If we decide a family of four with $30,000 of income needs $1000 of assistance, that means one with $31,000 of income needs no assistance. But we should give that family perhaps $500 of assitance, so they have incentive to increase their income — i.e., so the implicit tax is not confiscatory. But then someone focuses on the idea that a family with adequate income to go without benefits is getting benefits anyhow, so he screams and yells, and the program is tweaked in a way that re-creates the confiscatory implicit tax.

      This is all speculation, Steve. I don’t have a great handle on it.

      And it’s not like we send our best and brightest to Congress anyhow, right?

      • Well. I feel better that I am not the only one who doesn’t understand why a perfectly reasonable goal of eliminating poverty can’t take place. And thank you for being honest and admitting it is BOTH partys that dont seem to be able to get it done. That was refreshing to hear.

        Maybe I am not as much a pessimist as I think. I still want to see the elimination of poverty and you say there IS a way to do it. That’s hope, which is more than I had yesterday. Thanks!

  2. I would hate to see an expansion of the welfare state if we diverted 20% of military spending to “helping” the poor. I have a brother who never could figure out how to make his life work so he has spent all his adult life living on the dole from the government. He knows all the rules and all the tricks. He knows the thresholds of earnings before he loses a single benefit. He knows how to avoid the time limits. He has received an enormous amount of help from his case workers who have taught him all he knows. He has quite a few friends who do the same things and depend heavily on the government for their living. All of them work for money under the table so as to not exceed anyh thresholds.

    I tell you that only to explain why I am NOT a fan of government handouts. I always thought that temporary assistance was reasonable, but a permaneant life on the dole is not. Yet these governement programs always seem to grow both in size and in duration. The case workers don’t seem to know how to say “no” and probably for good reason because there is almost always children involved.

    • Helping the poor doesn’t have to be just a cash handout. With that much money diverted to aiding in the elimination of poverty, we could put some resources towards even greater reform of assistance programs and make that a condition of diverting said funds.

      • That was tried with Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform Plan, and it was successful…for a while. But in the years since, the effective parts of the plan have been watered down or overcome by new legislation to the point that we now have pretty much the same system as before, only more generous. I am reasonably certain that any future efforts to incentivize people to use welfare as a hand up will be doomed to the same fate. I wish it would work, but I am pessimistic it ever will.

        • Steve, the flaws you point to are not flaws associated with the concept of eliminating poverty. Rather they are flaws in the structure of the program(s) from which your brother received benefits. Yes, Congress has stupidly structured programs with “cliffs” that pose an effective marginal tax rate in the stratosphere, sometimes in excess of 100%, but the way to address that is to fix the structure.

          As the years go on, we could lose more jobs to mechanization and more to globalization. The golden years of full employment may be behind us. But we will continue to be a rich, rich country. Are we going to consign more and more of our citizens to poverty, and allow the economic benefit of the globalization and mechanization to flow exclusively to the rich, or are we going to use that economic benefit to make life better for all?

          • Can we really eleminate poverty, Bob? In a pure economic sense, no matter what we do, someone is going to earn at the bottom of the economic scale. Doesn’t that mean they are living in poverty based on that simple fact? Prices will always tend to move toward the center as buying power moves up, so when those at the bottom of the economic scale see their earning power move up, they can afford higher prices, which means prices move up.

            I am a pessimist, I suppose, but I just don’t think poverty can be eliminated no matter how hard we try. And frankly, like me, I don’t think that those evil Republicans like the idea of poverty at all. I think they would gladly support a program that genuinely helped people to rise out of poverty, but, like me, they are jaded to the effect government programs. You can call me naive, but that is what I genuinely believe.

          • Steve, yes we really can eliminate poverty. If you take the developed world and plot per capita income and wealth on one axis, and poverty on the other, what you’ll find is clear pattern among pretty much all other countries. As you would expect, as per income and wealth increase, poverty rate decreases. If you extrapolate from the pattern, a country with our income and wealth should have a near zero poverty rate. Instead, we have a poverty rate worse than countries with considerably less income and wealth than us. And all those countries that our doing better at reducing poverty also are more progressive in their policy.

            As for your concern, infusing those at the bottom with enough resources to escape poverty would have a miniscule impact on aggregate demand, so the idea that it would be inflationary is a hard sell.

  3. Have you not heard Mr. Lord that Hamas launched over 2000 missiles from Gaza into Israel? Or has it just slipped your mind?

    And that Israel struck back as Hamas knew they would upon their unprotected peoples, while Hamas enjoyed bomb shelters and then claimed to be victims. That must have slipped your mind too.

    You may well be correct about us having the largest military in the world, and I would opine, not large enough for eradicating the evolving hordes of primitive barbarians ravaging civilized peoples under the banner of religion.

    Military funding diverted to the poorest? Just how would you do that, and who are the poorest???

    How can any educated thinking person come up with your propositions, can only be explained by one living in a cave, or utterances from a child!