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Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 1998 /10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell The poverty
pimp's poem

MY FELLOW-ECONOMIST WALTER WILLIAMS has for years kept track of how much money it would take to lift every American man, woman and child in poverty above the official poverty level. That sum has consistently been some fraction of the money actually spent in "anti-poverty" programs. In other words, if you gave every poor person enough money to stop being poor, that would cost a fraction of what our welfare state programs and bureaucracies cost.

Obviously, a lot of anti-poverty money is going to people who are not poor. There are whole classes of people who live off the poor -- or rather, off the vast sums of money that are poured out from the public treasury and private philanthropy, in hopes of helping the poor.

Those who intercept the money intended for the poor have been aptly called "poverty pimps." The poor are a commodity to these people, who include not only local politicians, community activists and small-time hustlers, but also people with impressive titles and academic credentials, who likewise milk the larger society, in the name of the poor.

At the top of the food chain, as it were, are Ivy League professors who rake in big-time research grants to support themselves and their cronies while they are studying, romanticizing or otherwise exploiting the poor. The poem below is about such people, who are as much poverty pimps as politicians who simply pocket graft from poverty programs or collect votes for promoting lucrative boondoggles.


Let us celebrate the poor,
Let us hawk them door to door.
There's a market for their pain,
Votes and glory and money to gain.
Let us celebrate the poor.
Their ills, their sins, their faulty diction
Flavor our songs and spice our fiction.
Their hopes and struggles and agonies
Get us grants and consulting fees.
Celebrate thugs and clowns,
Give their ignorance all renown.
Celebrate what holds them down,
In our academic gowns.
Let us celebrate the poor.

10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.