Elsewhere I have said that I favor competitive federalism, and that the government should collect no taxes but should require everyone to donate something like a third of their incomes to public service organizations.
Some people are poor because they are disabled. This includes people with mental illnesses. I predict that many people would choose to donate to public service organizations which support disabled people.
Disabled elderly would be treated like other disabled people. Nondisabled elderly would be treated like other nondisabled people.
I predict that many people would donate money to public service organizations which provide training to people who are poor because they lack skills.
The rest of the poor would be people who engage in self destructive behaviour, such as lazy people, people who destroy their social relationships by fighting with everyone else, and people who refuse help from other people like drug addicts who refuse to participate in drug treatment programs. There are also many poor people who are not currently engaging in self destructive behaviour, but are suffering from the consequences of self destructive behaviour which they engaged in in the past, such as people who dropped out of school and had children.
People who engage in self destructive behaviour are a problem for the government. In a system of competitive federalism, I predict that competing governments would attempt to expel self destructive people because self destructive people are not valuable citizens, and the presence of self destructive people reduces the quality of life of the other citizens.
If the central government allows it, the competing governments would use simple and direct methods to expel undesirable people, such as denying them residence permits.
If the central government forbids direct methods, then the competing governments will try to expel undesirable people through subtle and indirect methods, such as prohibiting the types of jobs, consumer products and housing associated with undesirable people, or by criminalizing the types of behaviours associated with undesirable people. The competing governments could set high housing standards, which would increase the cost of housing so that poor people could not afford to live there. The competing governments could set a high minimum wage, so that businesses could not afford to hire unskilled people, so that there would be no jobs for poor people. The competing governments could set high product safety standards, so that consumer products would cost more, so that poor people could not afford to buy consumer products. The competing governments could limit the construction of houses, which would create a housing shortage, which would cause the cost of housing to increase, which would force poor people to leave because the poor people could not afford to live there. The competing governments could tax and regulate businesses highly, so that businesses would leave, so that there would be few jobs, so that working people would have to leave because there are no jobs, leaving behind only rich people who do not need jobs.
The central government could not stop competing governments from using indirect methods to expel undesirable people. I think that indirect methods are more cruel and more expensive than using direct methods, so I think that the central government should permit direct methods.
For example, I live in Vermont in 2006. My list of indirect methods of expelling poor people is a description of the actual policies of the state government of Vermont. And if we had real competive federalism, the central government would have even less control over the competing governments. If the federal government of America cannot stop the state government of Vermont from expelling poor people in 2006, then the central government will not be able to stop the competing governments from expelling undesirable people.
So if the competing governments expel undesirable people, where will the undesirable people go? A few of the competing governments will accept undesirable people. Few average people will want to live there. These undesirable people zones will be like prisons, concentration camps, ghettos, indian reservations, and third world countries. These undesirable people zones will be unpleasant places to live. Although wages will be low in undesirable people zones, few businesses will want to locate in the undesirable people zones because the quality of the workers will be low.
The central goverment has no policy about poverty. Each competing government has a different policy about poverty, most of which involve expelling undesirable people. Each public service organization which is concerned with poverty has a different policy about poverty, most of which involve helping poor people. The combined result of all these different poverty programs is a carrot and stick approach to poverty. There will be a lot of programs and resources to help poor people escape from poverty. And there will be punishments for poor people who refuse opportunities to escape from poverty, who refuse to make an effort to escape from poverty, or who refuse to stop their self destructive behaviour.
It is very important that there be a balance between the rewards and the punishments. An antipoverty program with too many punishments and not enough rewards is cruel. An antipoverty program with too many rewards and not enough punishments encourages self destructive behaviour, which will cause poverty to increase.
If the central government was trying to create a single antipoverty program, the central government would need to make sure that there was a balance between the rewards and the punishments. But with competitive federalism, there is not a single antipoverty program, but a multitude of competing antipoverty programs. Some people might think that the central government would need to regulate and coordinate all the different antipoverty programs in order to make sure that there was a balance between the rewards and punishments. But I think that a balance would occur without any action by the central government. If there were too many punishments and not enough rewards, I predict that people would donate more money to antipoverty public service organizations. If there were too many rewards and not enough punishments, I predict that people would donate less money to antipoverty public service organizations.
Frequently government programs are implemented in parts. If program is controversial, the proponents may skip the more controversial parts in order to reduce the opposition, hoping to implement the rest of the program later. But it may be a bad idea to implement part of an antipoverty program based on rewards and punishments. The rewards and punishments need to be balanced, but the balance will be lost if only part of the program is implemented.