The Price of Poverty and Ignoance – What are our Alternatives?

The food stamp program has recently ended a temporary increase due to the downturn in the economy a few years ago and is under attack by Republican lawmakers.  They want to reduce it by $40 billion over the next 10 years.  Democratic lawmakers want to compromise down to $4 billion but Republicans are not budging from their position.  Government subsidies to the poor and needy are in great peril of disappearing.  If Republican lawmakers get their way then many such subsidy programs will be affected making our poor and needy citizens that much poorer.

The argument made by many conservatives is that by reducing government handouts to the poor they will be forced to find jobs.  From the standpoint of many poor and destitute individuals they cannot find jobs that pay enough to make an honest and living wage.

So what is their alternative?  Do some crime and risk doing time.  Prisons are often more desirable for such individuals than having to fend for themselves on the streets.  Many such poverty stricken people commit many crimes resulting in many victims before being caught and quite a large number don’t get caught.  So crime does pay and they can make a lot more money doing crime than flipping hamburgers or as janitors.

So the more poverty that exists the more crime occurs.  For every crime there is at least one victim.  So each criminal can create many victims which has its associated cost depending upon what happens to the victim and how much they lose in the crime.  Law enforcement costs go up in proportion to the crime rate.  Keep in mind that one criminal can contribute to many crimes.  If and when that criminal is caught there are court and legal costs absorbed by society as well as the cost of incarceration.  Penney-wise and pound foolish.  The total cost to society will be far more than the money saved by the federal government.  $40 billion doesn’t even start to pay back the debt but may create far greater problems.  It’s far less than one percent of our debt.

The way to generate more revenues and decrease the cost of crimes it so decriminalize criminal activities that you can raise revenues from.  For example you can decriminalize prostitution, a victimless crime which is outlawed for religious reasons, and license and regulate prostitutes which will bring in some revenues.  Then you can impose special prostitution services taxes to generate even more taxes.  This has the added benefit of reducing the burden on law enforcement of arresting and jailing prostitutes and their clients.  Decriminalize drugs and thus eliminate the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) saving a bundle of money.  This will take the profits out of drugs and eliminate almost all of the crime associated with drugs saving even more money at all levels of government.  Then heavily tax drugs like alcohol and cigarettes to gain revenues from drug users.  This will save all kinds of money spent on law enforcement, the court systems, and prisons and greatly reduce prison population.  This will also have the great benefit of reducing overall crime and homicides related to drugs and the countless victims of violence and thefts that ordinary citizens suffer from the loss of money and loved ones.  Make it far more difficult to send troop and military aid abroad.  Let such activities have to pass Congress first.  We can reduce our military force and save some money if we are not engaged in military actions abroad.  The President has far too much discretionary power to declare war and military actions.  Let him focus on domestic issues.  Reducing our armed forces will reduce the cost of maintaining a standing army as well as all the many benefits given.  This will also have the benefit of reducing the cost of military troop’s lives and of home land security costs since there will be far less reasons for terrorist from Arab nations to attack us since we will have no military actions in their countries.  Every bullet fired is worth about one small carton of milk to some poor kid.  Every missile (Hellfire missile costs about $70,000) fired by a drone cost as much as the food for 50 families of four for one year.  The cost of an armored Humvee ($220,000) destroyed in war is enough to pay for the education of 2 classrooms of elementary school children in a poor neighborhood.  The average salaries and overhead spent on each soldier abroad is enough to pay the salary and benefits of 2 high school teacher in a poor neighborhood.

If we could put as much money, effort, and resources from our military in helping to educate and bring into the mainstream those less educated and poor we could likely eliminate poverty, have everyone productively working, and have one of the highest educated and productive societies on earth.  Crime and the cost of crime would simply not exist.  The federal government spends about $640 billion per year on Defense.  Imagine having a $600 billion budget to implement programs and allocate resources to train and help those most in need and to educate all Americans.  It seems that Americans think that a powerful military is more important than an affluent and safe America.  We are more interested in trying and failing to bring peace and prosperity in the Middle East than we are in bringing peace and prosperity to our own country.  I fail to understand this reasoning.  When our founding fathers established this nation there was no military or military budget.  Conservatives want to make our nation less top heavy and resemble the ideas of the nation at its founding.  Then they should support eliminating or vastly downsizing our national military.  Many of our founding fathers were against a strong federalized military like the British had and instead wanted a strong Militia (2nd Amendment).  I’d be in favor of a small national military and much larger state militias.

Let us invest in our nation instead of someone else nation.  Let us focus upon eliminating crime and poverty in this country by eliminating victimless laws and crime causing laws and reducing our military down to defending only our homeland.

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