Historians tell us that poverty was the pervasive norm all around the world before the Industrial Revolution.  Before that remarkable achievement, most people lived off the land, and if their crops failed they often starved to death.  In addition, there was little clean water and less sanitation for sewage, disease was rampant, and giving birth was a dangerous situation for both mother and child.  That situation began to change with the Industrial Revolution, which resulted in more people moving into cities, gradually having refrigerated and canned food to eat, more safety slowly coming to the workplace, diseases beginning to be more understood and addressed, and generally people’s lives becoming safer, healthier and longer.  Of course, poverty in the 1800s and 1900s still widely existed, but the quality of life for those in poverty was demonstrably higher.

      So what does poverty look like today?  Most people at least in our country have a roof over their heads, indoor plumbing with clean running hot and cold water, enough food to eat, a cell phone and a color television set, access to emergency medical care, and their children get free K-12 education, along with a free lunch when needed.  Yes, there still is often found a wide disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and that doesn’t address the plight of the homeless,* but the life of the poverty-stricken today is far better than that of most of the wealthy people of the 16th Century.  Of course, that does not mean that people of good will should not continue their efforts today to help the poor, but everyone, including the poor, should also keep a perspective about what poverty today truly is.  Far better to live now than before the Industrial Revolution – which was brought to us by the Free Enterprise System along with Private Property Rights.  Without those highly successful approaches, many of us would probably be starving right now.

*As previously stated in these pages, I suggest the homeless issue be addressed institutionally, instead of occasionally having governments throw money at it, by having a safety net for every adult citizen and holder of a green card in our country, which would consist of a monthly stipend of a certain amount of money – except for those who truly have special needs.  Then we could abolish all other welfare systems and let the Free Market take over from there.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President