John Hoffmire: How do we think about poverty?

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  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    July 4, 2014 10:13 p.m.

    If you want to stop poverty in the third world, then corruption has to stop. Get rid of corruption then the problem goes away.

    If you want to stop poverty in the US, get rid of out of wedlock births. Thanks to the Obama administration. We are going in the wrong direction.

    China has used capitalism to increase their money. But this is cut-throat capitalism and it is mixed up with corruption. China is an example of the benefits for capitalism like a rogue cop is an example of law and order.

    It is capitalism without the morality which is just as bad as socialism without morality.

    Socialism is practiced in a lot of countries as just a variety of corruption. Zimbabwe for example where, in the name of socialism, Mugabe helps his friends. In Europe socialism is morally bankrupt. France's socialists are womanizers.

    I think capitalism/democracy is a great system. When it gets screwed up it is our own dang fault and not some bureaucrat in some government ministry.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 3, 2014 3:26 p.m.

    Having spoken with employment counselors in Utah, if people will clean up, show up (consistently), avoid substance use/abuse and do the work for which they are paid, there are jobs in Utah. They can lift themselves out of poverty. For those who are disabled or temporarily unemployed, there should be a safety net. This must be a hand up and not a hand out. In marxist countries people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them. It doesn't fly in the US.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    July 2, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    Couple thoughts:

    * take one third of the money spent on wars, and you can use it to eliminate poverty.

    * Poverty is caused by corrupt, and greedy governments.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 1, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    We (in North America) have no idea what TRUE "Poverty" is.

    Go to the Philippines, or some countries in Africa, or Central or South America. You will get a whole different impression of what "Poverty" means.

    If ANY American were this poor... our safety net would be helping them. No American gets to the level of Poverty that is very COMMON in many other countries.

    And yet... some of the most HAPPY and the most amazing people I have ever met... live in relative poverty in the Philippines, and Africa. Why is that?

    Could it be... because we are SPOILED and ENTITLED in America?

    I don't want to experience the poverty of the people I met in Manila. But I would like to experience the happiness they have. Maybe we need a little more humility in America...

    But the poverty we have here... is mostly in our heads. We actually have more (food, etc) than the common people in other countries.

    What I'm trying to say is... Poverty is relative. And it's not always a bad thing. Remember how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom...

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    July 1, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    Correction --

    @LDS Liberal
    Farmington, UT

    If you believe God,
    and that "there is enough and to spare",
    Then there should be "NO" poor among us.

    NO poor among us.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 1, 2014 7:17 a.m.

    2 Bits,

    Capitalism does not work on its own via natural means. If so, countries with virtually no govt. (failed states) would have the most vibrant economies. They don't. Why? Because capitalism depends on strong laws and consistent govt. Without these institutions it cannot survive.

    Also, for all of its many, many successes, capitalism breeds failure along with success. The labor market shifts to X and those who used to be great at Y are left scrambling (and poor) while those who are good at X succeed. A business succeeds remarkably and dominates its industry and then looks to exclude new entrants/competitors. A consortium of dominant players in an industry seek by price collusion or govt. intervention to exclude other competitors.

    Yes, I know. But that is not "pure" capitalism. But it is how it is practiced in every country unless there is vigilant govt. oversight.

    The trick is of course is not to have a heavy hand. But a strong "officials" position at the side lines ready to keep play on the field fair.

    It is just what capitalism needs in order to work (well).

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    July 1, 2014 4:39 a.m.

    Poverty is the disease of socialism and Marxism and can never be improved or eliminated. Its a creation of government who has empowered itself to eliminate prosperity of its people. Poverty has no upward mobility and the only success are approved by government and funded by government.

    Poverty is socialists power over rights and individuals. Spreading the wealth is poverty and that is why there is no cure. Governemnt and power mongers don't want to cure poverty and desperation to survive keeps citizens in distress and fighting each other to keep jobs that barely pays their debts.

    There is no shame of being poor. But poverty socialist government and tells people its their fault becasue they are not educated enough is a lie. Most of american is over educated and it hasn't ended poverty one iota. Hard work is a lie, working hard to live in poverty is a fact.

    How ever being poor in a free economy people can improve prosperity to improve their lives and incomes by their own merits regardless of eduction. Independence is an education you can't get in schools and it creates prosperity that creates and improves education.

  • Big Al Idaho Falls, ID
    July 1, 2014 12:21 a.m.

    Poverty in America will never end until there are fundamental changes to the culture that has grown up over the past hundred years or so. Great segments of our societies either can not or choose not or will not apply the formulas which lead to prosperity. The formulas basically are (1) obtain education/training/skill that is needed and marketable within the society. Do we realize how many young Americans gain college degrees that are worthless and not needed in our economy? (2) Apply the personal energy needed to recognize and make the most of opportunities. PERSONAL ENERGY is more important than smarts, education, connections, luck, etc. (3) Lose the attitude of entitlement--you don't deserve to live above the poverty line just because you live. i know many will disagree with this (Ultra Bob--"We need to provide people with an income just because they are people.") That statement certainly represents one of the greatest disincentives to building wealth I've heard! The problems with most poverty eradication programs is the great misunderstanding of human nature they exhibit while simply infusing cash into the system. We will reduce (never eradicate) poverty when we gain an understanding of human nature.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    June 30, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    OK. So, this is how it works. You elect republicans, then they remove all the banking and stock market regulations, then you let big business rewrite the labor laws and now flood the country with illegal aliens. This formula has been well implemented during the Bush years and has destroyed the AMERICAN DREAM. Have you thanked a Republican lately? Say thank you for destroying my country and creating a poverty level in American like no other time in history. Good quality tradesmen are making 1970's wages, disgusting. Just go live in a South American country and see the Republican dream at work!

    You want to talk poverty? Just look out your door or drive to the other side of town. We got it coming at us like a run away train!

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 6:54 p.m.

    2 bits.

    I don't seem to be able to understand your criteria for the success of a nations economic system. My own criteria of an economic system is how evenly the wealth of the society is distributed among the people of the society and how easily the wealth moves about.

    Early America when wealth and physical labor were closely aligned would be the zenith of success for capitalism. Over the years as the world changed, capitalism became more and more in favor of the rich and powerful. Today, we are in a period of extreme favoritism of the rich and powerful and more and more wealth is being concentrated in fewer and fewer people. My judgment is that capitalism in America has failed and is still failing.

    West Germany and South Korea are special case where our military presence changes the normal course of events. I might accept West Germany but not South Korea.

    Russia is a blank for me and Ancient Greece fails because they had slaves and the other things you mentioned.

    Thanks for the response.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,
    Capitalism has been the dominant economic system in the Western world for, give or take, 400 years. And in that virtual eye blink in the grander scheme of things it has produced more wealth than all the prior economic systems put together.

    It’s also lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, educated billions and may—heck, and will someday cure cancer.

    Success stories...

    -Post feudal Europe (especially England) England was a great example until about 30 years ago. Note, there was a corresponding fall in their military might and their internationally prestige when they changed paths.

    - Russia (what happened after Bulshevik revolution... and eventually the old USSR... and Russia's prosperity during their recent experiment with capitalism)

    - West Germany vs East Germany

    - South Korea vs North Korea
    South very prosperous and industrious, independent. North poverty, prison camps, most citizens would starve or freeze without foreign aid (the eventual fate of most Marxist experiments.

    Ancient Greece (cradle of liberty).
    They clearly believe in ownership, repayment of debts and that some were wealthier than others and that wealth could be passed from generation to generation. They traded and had individual ownership.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    June 30, 2014 3:58 p.m.

    Using Marxists concepts is a guarantee of poverty. China has gone to free enterprise and capitalism-the private ownership of business and industry and has brought hundreds of millions out of poverty. Hernando de Soto perhaps the world's leading economist says poverty in 2/3 of the world's population is due to lack of property rights. As they are restricted a country sinks into poverty. Socialism is not the answer. In this country as in many others there are too many people riding the wagon and the folks pulling it are labeled the bad guys.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 30, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    If you believe God,
    and that "there is enough and to spare",
    Thene there should be poor among us.

    The only explanation for this is those with the most are not "Sharing".

    Heavenly Father isn't going to be happy with some of his spoiled rotten children...

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 2:22 p.m.

    2 bits.

    Please show us some civilizations where capitalism has worked. And tell us just what you mean by "worked".

    When you say " CAPITALISM has brought more people out of poverty than any system in existence", are you ignoring the number of people that capitalism put into poverty?

    Mexico is one of the richest nations in the world, I'm told, but what I've seen most of the people live in poverty.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    Is it possible to eradicate poverty?
    Yes, if we would restore our economic system to do the job it is supposed to do.

    Business is the method that society has chosen to provide for the sharing of costs and benefits of the society. Private capitalism when properly controlled seems to be a good system of business.

    The economic system is working best when all the people are able to trade their labors for the things they need and want. But when the world changes and unbalances the distribution of wealth the system fails to do it's job.

    We need to provide people with an income just because they are people. Not so much as to make them rich but enough to survive and have the ability and opportunity. to gain more.

    Private business will not do the job voluntarily. So the government should hire every unemployed person at sufficient pay to satisfy the need. Business would have to meet or beat this wage. These jobs would be doing the millions of things we need.

    Poverty when eliminated in the U.S. might catch on all over the world.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 1:25 p.m.


    I know who Marx is. I've read his books. It's required reading in college. And his theories have great merit, but nobody seems to be able to make it work (I think because of the nature of man).

    But again, for the millionth time... you skipped answering the key question. Where has it worked?

    I can show you NUMEROUS civilizations where capitalism has worked.

    It works mostly on it's own, by natural means. It doesn't take a government overseer to force you to live it right.

    Fact is... CAPITALISM has brought more people out of poverty than any system in existence.

    And history is replete with examples that PROVE that when MARXISTS take over... the economy, jobs, and incomes go DOWN (for all but the ruling elites). And it eventually collapses.


    I know you predicted (and hoped) that after 2008 the end was near for capitalism in America, and it's collapse was inevitable... And yet, you were wrong. And you still can't see it.

    Yet our economy moves on.... providing jobs, and prosperity for Americans and even the world.

    Prosperity people living in REAL poverty would leave their life and family to have.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 30, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    RE: 2 bits "But again, for about the millionth time... where in history has his theories worked (long term)?"

    Marx was a critic of capitalism. Marx was an economist. Marx was a theoretician. Marx was never an administrator or head of state. Marx was the last of the classical economists and his theory builds on top of Smith and Ricardo.

    Marx's greatest accomplishment was his work "Capital." Marx offers tools to economists to make sense of the labor/manager relationship.

    I have never believed Marx is the last word, but his theoretical work needs to be part of economics. Interestingly, Piketty's work "Capital in the 21st Century" while useful shows how much Marx is needed because Piketty doesn't make use of Marx.

    You don't know who Marx was. Hope this helps.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 30, 2014 11:41 a.m.

    I think of poverty" as a plague.

    I don't want to get it. I don't want my kids to get it. So I try to avoid it. But you can't completely avoid it. So you need to work on a "cure".

    The cure for poverty is... a vibrant, diverse, strong and growing economy. Actually the cure is a JOB. But the economy is what provides those jobs (not the Government).


    Marx may be the "missing dimension". But again, for about the millionth time... where in history has his theories worked (long term)? If you can tell us about these success stories... we may start listening. Where is Marx's big success (making people prosper more than capitalism)?

    East Germany?
    North Korea?
    Soviet Union?
    China (incomes are still VERY there, but you should have seen it before they let a little capitalism in... You may not be old enough to remember what the China of Chairman Mao was like. They are only recently recovering.... Do you know what the average worker in China gets paid??? Or North Korea? And you think OUR minimum wage is too low... try living on what THEY make.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 30, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    How can we talk about poverty without referencing the ultimate labor economist Karl Marx? As usual Marx is the missing dimension.

    "Capital" and other Marxist literature needs to be read and understood by people like Mr. Hoffmire.