One of the large takeaways this weekend for me was the economics of poverty, not from the side of the poor, but from the side of the 1%. I tweeted:
There is a lot of money to be made off poor people. Follow those economics to solve the issue. #checkcashing #charterschools #prison #uppers
And then I got to thinking about this a bit more and found myself trying to solve the systemic issue of poverty, but getting lost in the way all these systems are interconnected. One group thinks a good education is the answer, but that doesn’t solve the food quality issue. If you have another group working to solve the food quality issue, then you have issues of food deserts and distribution you have to work through. When you push on one thing, another pops up.
Instead of this being a problem with a linear solution, i.e., solve A, then, B, then, C, etc, it is more like a fish net with each node connected to another series of nodes. Even thinking about the issues of poverty can make one’s head spin.
So I started with a simple premise: the existence of poverty must be a good thing for some otherwise it would not exist. Who stands to benefit most from the existence of poverty? How do they make money off poverty?
The usual suspects reared their ugly heads: check cashing places, rent-to-own, buy-here-pay-here car lots, dollar stores, etc. I think this is a good start, but for the most part, these are small opportunists working on a local level (though there are some highly-organized like … well, I can’t name names, but you know who they are.) I wanted the deeper answer so I asked a deeper question:
Why is government not solving poverty?
I just ended up with another rabbit hole, but one which I think will get us closer to the issue. When uncovering who most benefits from the existence of poverty, follow those public services that private industry is most trying to convince government to privatize.
We start with one rock-solid business basic that can never be refuted: Companies need to make a profit.
So why is there a push for charter schools? For private prisons? For public sector union-busting? Why is there such resistance to a Medicare-For-All, Single-Payer plan? Saving our government money because private industry can do it more efficiently is crap as is saving the children from a poor education. Few people work hard this hard for morality; they work this hard for money.
Poverty is the dog. All this other stuff like poor education, crime, etc is the tail.
We’ve got to somehow find a way to stay on the issue of poverty beyond four hours on a weekend. “Fixing” education, hunger or healthcare is just putting a band-aid over a gaping wound. We solve poverty, we solve a lot of these other issues. Why do we not have the collective will?