In a free society, impoverished people would be free to better their lot by their own hard work and initiative. Today, in contrast, they are hampered by impossible regulations and degraded by government welfare.
answered Sep 15 '10 at 13:13
Diana Hsieh ♦
There is a famous (and good) answer to this question, by Barbara Branden: "If you wish to help them, you will not be stopped."
Another, more succinct version of it is by Ted Gray: "Why is that my problem?"
Both of these answers question the premise that concern for the poor is an essential in social morality, and so they implicitly reject that the government should financially assist the poor.
But, assuming the questioner has an actual curiosity about what would happen to the poor, without the implicit premise that it is everyone's duty to help the poor, the answer is exactly what Diana Hsieh says, above: "In a free society, impoverished people would be free to better their lot by their own hard work and initiative. Today, in contrast, they are hampered by impossible regulations and degraded by government welfare."
Note that in all of the above answers, the premise that poor people cannot live without assistance from everyone else is flatly rejected: see the middle ages for human existence in poverty well below the standard of what we now consider poor.
As well, Objectivism totally rejects the premise that a disparity of wealth between individuals is some kind of social problem that requires a remedy. The secret truth is that the less you tax the wealthy qua wealthy, the more money they have to invest in industries that will make even the poorest people in a society better off. The wealth of the poorest people increases even as their wealth relative to the richest people decreases.
Wealth is not a zero-sum game. If people are fully allowed to create it, they will. The rich man's wealth makes it possible for the poor man's wealth to buy more. The converse is also true: when the rich man is hampered, the poor man's long-term prospects suffer.
answered Sep 19 '10 at 14:53
John Paquette ♦
What would happen to the poor in an Objectivist society? I don't know, maybe a charity will help them, maybe they won't. The question is, why is it my problem? It is my life, not theirs.
The biggest victims of statism are the ambitious poor,"Pay a man to stay at home and that is exactly what he will do."(Author unknown).
answered Sep 23 '10 at 09:04