Why should government be interested in reducing poverty through redistribution of income?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I'd just like to echo the thoughts of the previous poster, I think it is important to note the constant misinformation and the perspective thrown out by (generally) the republican party and conservatives who want to say that redistribution is evil and counter to the constitution.  But you don't hear...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

I'd just like to echo the thoughts of the previous poster, I think it is important to note the constant misinformation and the perspective thrown out by (generally) the republican party and conservatives who want to say that redistribution is evil and counter to the constitution.  But you don't hear them complaining about the huge tax breaks for big corporations or the ways that having a corporate tax rather than simple flat taxes on income or consumption taxes create such huge advantages for the wealthy.  They'd hate for those to go away, but they certainly want to decry the evils of "redistribution" of income which in their eyes only goes from rich to poor.  No one wants to address the fact that it is steadily going from poor to rich as well.  Ever heard of the bank bailout?

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why should government be interested in reducing poverty through redistribution of income?

Wealthy people or institutions (such as big business corporations) have more money with which to influence politics and government.  They always, to a greater or lesser extent, bend government to serve themselves.  If government were not giving unfair advantage to anyone, there would be no need for poverty programs.  But wealthy people and institutions usually get unfair advantages from government, such as enforcement of monopoly, such as protective tariffs, such as direct subsidies for businesses "essential to the economy" or "essential to defense", such as foreign aid (money is taken from American taxpayers, given to foreign governments who are told to "buy American;" thus the money comes back to American big business).  There are many ways that big business is unfairly helped by government, and since government has no wealth of its own, it must first take from the tax-payers before it can give to big business.

Since all of this unfair aid to the rich is taking place, the government is interested in hiding, camoflaging, obsfucating, dissimilating about what it is doing.  This is why government is interested in reducing poverty through redistribution of income.  Poverty was created by redistribution of income to big business, so redistributing a little bit of it back to the poor is necessary in order to keep them happy.

That is a cynical view (but with a lot of truth, I believe).  Other commentators might point out that those politicians who create programs to subsidize big business are not the same politicians who create programs to subsidize the poor.  Maybe, but it all comes around to serving big business in the long run.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The purpose of government is to safeguard rights, not regulate economies.  It should not attempt to "redistribute wealth" as this is the equivalent of legally sanctioned theft.  "The power to tax is the power to destroy."  And doesn't the government love destruction! To take from those who earn, to give to those who don't in addition to being morally reprehensible, as a prior post indicated, consolidates the power of government over an individuals finances, which is a far deeper wrong.  Perhaps that is the real reason governments engage in this practice of self-aggrandizement, but describe it as a "fairness for all" doctrine.

Certainly no society thrives when a few control everthing, and the many have nothing.  Neither does a society thrive when the government "regulates" economies through taxation, and pretends that everryone is economically equivalent and there' a "classless" society. But this is exactly what those who are in government propose.  If government did its job in maintaining a level market and allowing economic activity to flourish, the level of economic activity would increase, there would be those few who would become very wealthy, alongside those many who would become quite well to do as well -- "the poor you have with you always," but where individuals are free to dispose of their money as they see fit and are not coerced to give it to government, you'll have the smallest number of those in poverty.

However, government isn't interested in reducing poverty, quite the opposite. By paying lip service to reducing poverty while undermining economic activity, they can then come in with a new "program," defraud the wealthy, "help" to poor, create class warfare, and sit back and enjoy the spoils.  The day government wishes to truly lessen poverty will be the day you'll see government remove itself from its role of bleeding its citizens white through taxation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If one is in support of this idea, there are many reasons that can provide substantiation.  The first would be that government would be interested in reducing poverty because no social order wins when there is an underclass.  Its presence usually means disenfranchisement, anti- establishment tendencies, as well as the potential for discontent percolating within it.  Another reason why government might be interested in seeking solutions through the redistribution of income might lie in its own self interest.  If government seeks to continue and consolidate its power, attempting to bring as many "outside" forces into its own control would be critical.  The elimination or mitigation of this underclass might be essential in this process for if there is any group which would perceive government as something that needs to be dissolved, it would be the group that is economically marginalized from it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are different ways to answer this depending on your perspective.

From one perspective, this is a simple matter of morality and fairness.  The government needs to do this because it is not right to have poverty in a country that can afford to prevent it.

From another perspective, it can make economic sense to do this to some extent at least.  A country with a large impoverished population is likely to be wasting its resources.  The poor get less education and are therefore less likely to contribute to economic growth.  Therefore, you can say it is good for a country to reduce poverty so as to increase the ability of all its members to get good jobs and contribute more to the economy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team