A couple weeks ago I engaged CPJ senior fellow Gideon Strauss in a debate at the Christian Legal Society, “Justice, Poverty, Politics & the State: Is There a Christian Perspective?”

One of the questioners afterward proposed that the large scale of the poverty problem required an institution equally as large, i.e. the government. There are lots of problems with that kind of analysis, not least of which is that the “poor” are not some homogeneous blob of humanity, but individual persons created in the image of God facing unique situations with their own unique gifts and talents. So the scale of the problem, perhaps counter-intuitively, calls not for some behemoth- or leviathan-size institution, but a variety of smaller individuals and institutions that can work with people individually and in communal settings. Think here of a variation on Burke’s concept of “little platoons” in the war on poverty.

Because of the nature of big society/government solutions, what we often end up with, unfortunately, when we seek a large institutional answer to the problem of poverty are safety nets that function not so much as trampolines as foam pits.



Perhaps not so funny when you think about it.

  • Roger McKinney

    Poverty is so large a problem that we need an institution equally large to address it. Corporations are so powerful we need a government equally powerful to control them. The left exaggerates problems in order to justify ever larger government. One could be forgiven for thinking that the real goal is larger government and the left if merely using problems to justify their goal.

    But history has shown us that small governments and large free markets can solve both problems. That’s how the West grew rich. China and India have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty with only slightly freer markets.

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