Question 1: What is the Washington Monument Syndrome?
The Washington Monument Syndrome refers to the time in our history when the government closed the Washington Monument in order to manipulate budget cuts. When faced with budget cuts the government was expected to shut down something small, perhaps firing a few unnecessary bureaucrats. Unwilling to cooperate with this plan the government instead shut down one of our countries most visited monuments. Their reasoning for this was the tourists waiting to see the monument would throw a big enough fit that they would reverse the budget cuts, which indeed happened. Instead of trying to understand why the budget was cut in the first place and using this information to improve the system the government instead decided to use the public as a manipulation technique. They simply shut down something popular and let the outraged civilians do their job for them. The budget was restored the lazy way, and the initial issue that started the budget cuts to begin with was never examined or improved upon.
Question 2: In practice, what have been some of the outcomes — intended or unintended — of anti-poverty programs?
The anti poverty programs aim to financially assist the lower class and raise their standards of living. What these programs don’t take into account though are the reasons behind the poverty. The reasons (at least in a capitalistic society) are generally a lack of contribution towards the economy. The person either refuses to work or their product is not well received by the public, either of these issues can result in poverty. The government then takes notice of these poverty stricken and decides to financially compensate them. How you may ask? Simple, tax those who have built a financially successful business. So basically the government redistributes wealth from those contributing to the economy and gives it to those who have failed to contribute. The people who make good business decisions get punished, and the people who have made bad decisions get rewarded. From 1967 to 1995 the anti poverty programs have grown tremendously in their spending, but the poverty rates have stayed about the same. Any economist can easily see why, those suffering from poverty are not investing their wealth wisely. They made bad business decisions which resulted in their poverty, and now they receive government aid to continue making bad business decisions. Meanwhile the business owners making good decisions have less funds to work with, because the funds they rightly earned have been redistributed to those less capable of making good economical decisions. Furthermore the poverty stricken now have no reason whatsoever to build a decent business for themselves, because the government is already paying them to sit on their laurels and slack off. The economies overall wealth decreases for no good reason, and the poor stay poor. The only way to truly end poverty is through competition, if someone has to work to stay alive they will work. But if they get paid just for existing they have no reason to pull themselves above the poverty line, they will happily stay poor and get paid for it. Although it is compassionate to imagine a cure-all for poverty the reality is people will only work hard if they have to, and working hard and/or investing wisely is the only way to truly pull yourself out of poverty.