It’s not true, but if you ask Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., she’ll tell you conservatives don’t care about poor people. Ocasio-Cortez and her socialist cohorts such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., think any empathetic person has to support her laundry list of big government proposals — dubbed the “Green New Deal.” She’s called for nationalized healthcare, a federal jobs guarantee, and even “economic security” for those who are “unwilling to work.”
What do we have to show for it?
In recent decades, increased government spending has barely moved the needle when it comes to the poverty rate. It hovered around 15 percent in the 1980s, and has remained roughly the same ever since, even with trillions more spent to continue fighting the war against poverty. Considering Johnson’s promises (now echoed by Ocasio-Cortez and company) to “cure” and “prevent” poverty altogether, this decline in poverty rate is, at best, a meager return on our investment.
Yet this $22 trillion comes at a cost greater than just a massive taxpayer burden and the rising national debt. Private charity, which actually effectively fights poverty, decreases as tax rates skyrocket, and it’s not hard to see why. To some extent, anyone’s ability and willingness to charitably donate is limited by how much disposable income they have. Endless taxation to fund inefficient government anti-poverty programs leaves less in people’s pockets, so they’ve got less to donate.
A bevy of research confirms this. Before former President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, churches and other private institutions played a much larger role in social welfare, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Afterward, those huge increases in government spending crowded out large amounts of this charitable activity, particularly among churches. The lesson is clear: Taxes don’t just kill jobs, they can kill charity, too.