But who would take care of the poor?
Joshua Fulton argues against the popular notion “that nobody would help support the less fortunate” in his article, Welfare before the Welfare State. I’d like to claim that many recall the horrible conditions of poverty during the industrialization era, except that all those people are dead. So, honestly, such imagery was planted in our collective consciousness’s by government schools. In reality, there existed fraternal and other specialized societies which fostered community and acted as mutual insurance corporations. Despite some widespread racism, there even existed a black-female society called Ladies Friends of Faith Benevolent Association. It seems the populace can find ways to take care of themselves.
Additionally, the costs of a redistribution program are quite high. James Rolph Edwards argues in The Costs of Public Income Distribution and Private Charity “Fogel (1999) states that in 1890, only the top 10 percent of the income distribution had real incomes above our current poverty line.” “Olasky (1992) has shown this private charity [charity before the welfare state] to have been very large, and no one has ever shown it to have been inadequate to care for the truly needy.” It’s also technically infeasible for the government to improve the conditions of the poor, unless that same wealth can be extracted from the remainder of the economy. Because of this dependence, “Why not simply let economic growth do the job?” Finally, Edwards points out that government bureaucracy eats up 1/3 of the income being redistributed, leaving only 2/3’s of it for the people it’s intended to help. In contrast, private charities have a median expense of only 10.3%, and focus on giving a “hand up” rather than a “hand out”.