The cure for poverty is an adequate income

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Fintan O'Toole has an article in the Guardian this morning that is clearly related to his new book 'Judging Shaw'.

In it he argues that:

We live again in a world where the rich pleasure themselves with the belief that they don’t just have more money — they are better people.


We live again in a world where people struggling to survive have to prove that they are “deserving” of the welfare payments they need to keep body and soul together.

But as he makes clear, poverty has nothing whatsoever to do with morality, or being deserving:

In [Pygmalion] is one of Bernard Shaw’s most important arguments: people are not poor because they are immoral; they’re immoral because they are poor. Or, to put it in the terms of today’s assumptions about poverty: the problem with the poor isn’t their “culture” or their want of character. It’s just that they don’t have enough money.

To which the obvious response is the one O'Toole has to offer:

The cure for poverty is an adequate income.

And yet this is precisely what society does not want to offer. Just listen to the argument on universal basic income - that it will permit the idle to do nothing - and all the prejudices O'Toole refers to are apparent.

There is no reason why people cannot have enough to live on in a country of plenty. That they don't is a decision. And it's not a decision the poorest made. In which case it's the responsibility of those with money. And it's they who have to face up to their responsibility to change that.

And yes, when I talk of peaceful revolution that is one of the things that has to change.