We recently marked the fifty-year anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson’s so-called War on Poverty, which set off the greatest increase in welfare state spending in American history. Today, America’s poverty rate remains virtually unchanged, and everyone from Barack Obama to Paul Ryan has put forward proposals to “fight poverty.”

The left says we need bigger welfare state programs. The right says we need smarter welfare state programs. We at ARI think the welfare state is immoral.

Our Poverty Problem?

The welfare state seizes wealth from those who produce it and transfers it to people on the grounds that they need it. It forces some people to work, not in order to benefit their own lives, but in order to serve others. As Ayn Rand put it, “Whoever claims the ‘right’ to ‘redistribute’ the wealth produced by others is claiming the ‘right’ to treat human beings as chattel.”

You cannot end poverty by punishing people for being productive and rewarding them for being unproductive. The path to prosperity is to replace welfare state exploitation with economic liberation, i.e., laissez-faire capitalism.

Here are some links that say more about ARI’s point of view on the welfare state:

To Be Poor Doesn’t Mean You’ll Always Be Poor — Article by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook

America Before the Entitlement State — Article by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook

Changing the Debate: How to Move from an Entitlement State to a Free Economy — Video by Don Watkins

Entitlements Aren’t Commitments, They’re Coercion — Blog post by Don Watkins

Did Ayn Rand Advocate Harsh Treatment of “the Poor”? — Blog post by Don Watkins

Ayn Rand Lexicon:


Welfare State

“Redistribution” of Wealth