Thomas Sowell
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An arrogant elite's condescension toward the people -- treating them as children who have to be jollied along -- is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.

We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck.

Why are such people called "poor"? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality.

Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in "poverty" to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going.

Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment in their lives by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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