President Obama Makes Poverty Permanent

Take a man who is not lacking in material goods, money, or property. He can own a home and cars, have a job and insurance, and be fat and happy. But if this man sees his neighbor buy a Lexus with all the trimmings, yet he cannot afford one, he will be able to claim poverty. And once he can afford his luxury car, yet his neighbor acquires a fusion-powered hovermobile which would break our man's budget, he can again claim "poverty."

No matter what any man has, as long as somebody else has more, then whatever the first man has isn't enough. It isn't fair. And since it's "unfair," the government will feel justified to step up its confiscation of property from those who have "too much," give some of what it has taken to those that are "poor," and keep the rest for themselves.

The news is not entirely bleak. Mr. Obama will go down in history as succeeding where other progressives or socialists before him have failed. He will have pioneered a perpetual source of grief and grieving. Further, he will have discovered the lost Fountain of Youth from which any bureaucracy tasked with "battling" poverty can drink. One sip, and the agency lives forever, growing only stronger as it ages.

Journalists and minor politicians have tried before, but nobody has managed to accomplish as much as Mr. Obama has by doing nothing more than misusing one simple mathematical concept.

For example, it's common to read headlines like this: "Heating Oil Price Increases: Poor Hit Hardest." This is a journalist's attempt at creating a grievance, and one that does well enough, but its influence is temporary: once spring comes, it's forgotten.

The editorial addition to the headline is, of course, logically equivalent to "Poor Have Less Money." This is so because all, rich and poor, must have heating oil (or some other source of heat). If the price for heat rises, the rich and poor both pay more. But the poor pay proportionally more because they have less money, which we already knew.

Thus, the editorial attached to the headline gives no new information about the poor. Indeed, there is no reason to include the editorial with the headline except as an attempt to create a grievance, and a sense that something "must be done."

While we'll still see reporting like this -- journalists can't help themselves -- Mr. Obama will have made all such implicit advocacy superfluous. Instead, look for endless headlines like: "Despite Efforts, More Work To Alleviate Poverty Necessary, Government Spokesperson."