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What can governments do to end poverty in their countries? Is a solution possible under capitalism?

Hello, I come from Argentina, and in my country, poverty is an issue we still can't eradicate, even though extreme poverty has been around for many decades now.

What still baffles me is the fact that although the Government gives away money to those with reduced incomes, poverty is as bad as always. Poor people can now (at least) fulfill their basic needs, but they have now become dependant on the Govt to give them the necessary resources for life (and politicians do not care about this, since this way they can keep on "buying" their votes with cash). They don't have jobs (and some do not even bother to find one) and most still live in slums under really poor conditions. So, it's obvious this solution is only benefitial in the short run... eventually the Government is going to run out of money and we'll still have the same number of people in the streets.

Moreover, I read yesterday how India is going to start doing the same thing, but I guess that probably won't go anywhere either.

Now, what do you think is the solution to stop this vicious circle of poverty? What is your Government doing about it?

Bear in mind that Latin America has just extreme poverty levels (not as much as Africa), but still much more than the First World countries. At least in my country there is a surprisingly high number of slums (check some photos in wikipedia: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_miseria )

In my opinion, emphasis should be made on giving labour to these people outside-the-system. But for that, we need to offer public AND quality education. Yet I'm conscious that a malnourished child is not going to be able to be properly educated, is he?. So what can we do to ensure that child will have a better future? It's difficult to come up with a solution, but we're in the 21st Century now, it's about time we stopped poverty.


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  • Jan 15 2013: I think you may be asking the wrong question. Poverty is the normal condition of human beings. The real question is this: "What can government do to increase prosperity?" Socialism (including communism) is a proven failure at wealth creation. The only places where socialism is considered "successful" is where it exists as a parasite on a capitalist base. Without a solid, free market, capitalistic base to provide revenue to the government, socialist states are unable to remain financially viable.

    The other issue you need to consider is how the rich coop socialism for their own gain. The high taxes, tough regulation and government substitutes are often tools to keep the poor and middle class down. The rich don't pay income tax -- they have no "income". Their already have wealth. Instead, the high "progressive" taxes rob the small business owners and upcoming professionals of capital to compete with established wealth. Regulations can be use to prevent competitors from entering markets. Finally, government subsidies mostly go to well connected. If socialism was truely the means to end poverty and power of the oligarchy, then Argentina should have succeeded decades ago.
    • Jan 17 2013: that is a myth. first off which form of socialism or capitalism are you talking about. I assume you are using WW2 and the cold war as example of why democratic capitalism is the superior form of government.

      in point of fact that argument ignores about 90% of the reasons America and Anglo societies became predominant in the 20th century.

      non-democratic forms of government have been assumed to be less effective than capitalism. If one takes Germany circa 1933 as an example, within 8 years with a nationalized government and at a serious population, resource, and production disadvantage Germany came within an inch of beating the US and the British Empire. If Japan had not jumped the gun the likelihood that we would have in fact defeated Germany is questionable. Same with the soviets. They started at a massive cultural and technological disadvantage which we knew and exploited to destroy their economy. Besides Soviet communism was about as much communism as Mitt Romney is a true free-market capitalist.

      most of the wealth creation in the 20th century derived from technological advances by the militaries of a few countries all of which were substantially nationalized in military/industrial production and R&D at the time of the advances, so that whole nationalism/socialism/communism does not work is pure malarky. A rational examination of history actually shows that it works quite well to provide the foundation of a capitalist economy. without nationalized R&D there would be much less "wealth creation".
      • Jan 19 2013: How many times must an experiment fail before you admit defeat? Communism, Socialism and good old Big Government programs do not work. Why? They all assume that everyone wants to work together for the greater good. And yes, people will say that is what they want. The problem is that is not what people do. They act in their own self-interest.
        If everyone is equally rewarded, then everyone will do the bare minimum. That is what happened in the United State back when the Pilgrims arrived. All the land was held in common and each family was to be given according to their need. They all nearly starved to death. They realized their mistake, divided up the land to each family, and went on to create the biggest economy on Earth.
        This same story has been repeated countless times with more disastrous results. The Soviet Union’s “Harvest of Sorrow” killed tens of millions. Communist China’s “Great Leap Forward” resulted in death of at least 50 million people. Many other counties has tried and failed. So what does the defenders of the grand socialist model say? They did try hard enough! What a load of nonsense.
        Capitalism, with all its faults, works because it assumes people will act in their own self-interest. Free trade and market economies mean that it is a win-win solution for everyone. Ok, some will not do as well as others, but everyone – especially the poor -- is better off.
        • Jan 19 2013: A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul -- George Bernard Shaw
    • Jan 23 2013: What makes you say that poverty is a normal condition of human beings? It's been a common characteristic ever since the emergence of civilizations, that is correct, but so used to be slavery, which was abolished in recent history. I have in faith in mankind. Although we may be self-interested, I do believe we all feel compassion for suffering people. This is not the case, for instance, when people are not treated justly. I've heard many people complaining that they're "tired of supporting lazy people with the taxes I pay (the poor who receive the Govt. subsidies, the majority of whom do not even seek for a job given this monetary help)". This could be different if every person could be treated equally. Nobody (except maybe the capitalist oligarchy) would mind helping the needy if they did all the things they do (work, pay taxes, etc.).

      Just because there is no clear solution to poverty at the moment, it doesn't mean we have to accept the Status Quo. Even though socialism and communism have indeed failed, as you say, capitalism is obviously not the way to go in the future. We have to find something better, I'm sure we can.

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