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A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Nolan Brown explained how the War on Sex Workers is making the problems usually associated with prostitution worse. I noted that it seems like a rule that whenever government declares war on something, bad things happen. The War on Poverty has been no exception. In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson sought prevent and even cure poverty, much like Nixon unsuccessfully sought to cure cancer. Some 60 years later, the poor are still with us and bad policies alleviate poverty effectively trap them there. The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner has written the definitive book on a libertarian anti-poverty policy. The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor is both readable yet scholarly. It plots the history of welfare from the Middle Ages to the present, and shows how the current system arose from two conflicting outlooks about why poverty exists. Both liberals and conservatives have missed the mark in their diagnosis and, more importantly, their cure for poverty. Free markets and exponential growth have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty, but government continues to create artificial barriers that keep people stuck on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. We can start by pointing out the harmful effects of minimum wages, occupational licensing and the like, but it goes much beyond this.

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