Dean Clough

June 18, 2021

Portico Darwin: The Poverty Economy & Me

(Editor's note:  I am a capitalist, through and through.  One of my favorite books is "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.  I started a successful business from scratch.  In other words, while I may align with Bernie, Elizabeth,  Alexandria, and Scandinavia on many things, assuming I do on everything would be a mistake.  So with that in mind, I hope my friends on the more conservative side of things will hear me out.  File this under "Can We Agree We Can Do Better?")

I wish I could claim to have come up with this angle.  I did not; rather, fave thinker Ezra Klein did.  But I want to bring it to your attention, first because it's relevant, and second because perhaps it will hit close to home, as it did for me.

You see, we Americans like great, convenient, and inexpensive goods and services.  Let me provide some examples:

  • Uber/Lyft
  • DoorDash
  • Starbucks
  • Amazon Prime
  • Chipotle Grill
  • Airlines (in general)
  • Hotels (in general)

You get the idea.  In each case, people like me and likely you have our lives directly and meaningfully enhanced by each of the above (OK, for me, not Chipotle Grill, but that's a personal choice).  But do you ever think about how and why we're able to afford such luxuries?  

It is the Poverty Economy and the fear people have of being REALLY F'-ING POOR.  The affordability of each of the goods/services I list is based upon them being provided by underpaid people that in most cases have no safety net of any kind.  And few other options, because the folks staffing the Poverty Economy typically lack college educations.

What do I mean by "underpaid"?  Can we agree that an American working 40 hours a week should not have to live in their car?  And have no health care?

I've heard many experts say recently that ending poverty is simple.  Just give people money. 

But I believe the opposite of poverty is dignity, not wealth.  Work and being productive is a part of dignity for most people.  With that in mind, I agree with Ezra Klein and an increasing number of economists that a reasonable approach therefore would be a negative income tax. 

In other words, people that are working fulltime yet have incomes below a certain threshold would receive extra cash from federal, state, and local governments, in order to ensure a basic standard of living in this country.  Yes, that includes a basic suite of healthcare services - that's just common sense.

What about people not working?  I believe federal, state, and local governments should guarantee employment that compensates people at the same threshold upon which the negative income tax is based.  What would these people do?  This is related to my 13th Grade concept, and the goals and jobs could be similar. 

I'll emphasize I personally believe the vast majority of people want to work and be a productive part of society. I also believe people should be able to live in dignity. 

But we're a long way from that in America, and I've come to understand I and many like me enable the Poverty Economy.  Am I deleting Uber and DoorDash?  Hardly.  But maybe I'm tipping more.

This has been ignored or poo-poo'd by some, but I don't care.  You can NFT this one:  yours truly will take a luxury train ride that meets my extremely exacting wants and needs in the future.  Like these

"Oh Portico, Portico, please show us some snapshots from Las Cruces!"  Said exactly nobody. 

But I don't care.  Check these out.  It is very beautiful, if also barren, here - although it is not very barren on the finely manicured grounds of Picacho Hills CC (note to Steven Simon if he's reading this:  you'd be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the layout and its pristine condition).  It's classic desert weather - lows in the 60's, highs in the upper 90's, low 100's.  Killer, especially poolside now that I've found a steady supply of Weissbier and bought a sweet new speaker.  Thank you to Dr. and Mrs. Fladgate for being our hosts! 




Here is Dire Straits and "Brothers in Arms".  I am not a massive fan, and in some ways feel they're overrated.  But yeah, Money for Nothing, and also, on occasion, I've been told I resemble Sting (although probably more so in ego than anything else), who obviously makes that song what it is.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.