The Virtue of Poverty

Yesterday Roobeedoo drew attention to a news report:

Man ‘whose throat was slit for cigarette’ named as dad who doted on his daughter

It’s not at all clear what happened. But it seems that this was an argument between two smokers. One had some cigarettes, and the other wanted one of them, and they got into an argument, and one of them wound up dead.

Putting up the price of cigarettes creates an artificial scarcity of tobacco. Some people become unable to afford them. And the only way they can get them is to beg them off people who can afford them. And if they can’t get them that way, then they’ll steal them. And if they have to steal, then they may also have to kill.

So next we’re going to see smokers killing other smokers to get their tobacco.

Is this what Tobacco Control wants? Perhaps it is. Perhaps the intention is to not only set smokers against antismokers, but also set smokers against smokers, and get them to kill each other off. After all, if they’re trying to stamp out smoking, they’re trying to stamp out smokers.

But the creation of artificial shortages of tobacco (or anything else) impoverishes people. It’s makes them poor. But of course you don’t tell them that you’re making them poor: you tell them that you’re making them “healthy”.

And aren’t “progressives” these days really just setting out to make people poor? For to raise the price of tobacco and alcohol and sugar and chocolate and meat is to impoverish people. And if the price of fuel and oil and coal and gas are also raised, to fight “global warming”, that’s a further impoverishment. And if cars are banned, and people must walk or ride bicycles, that’s yet another impoverishment.

The Gilets Jaunes protests in France began when Emmanuel Macron raised the tax on fuel in order to combat “climate change”, and thereby deliberately impoverished the French people.

For the past few centuries, progress has largely seen to entail raising the standard of living. But our new progressives now wish to lower the standard of living. We are not to have more: we are to have less. And the less we have, the more virtuous we will be. For virtue lies in poverty, not in wealth.

And the crime of Donald Trump is not only that he is a very wealthy man, but that he wants to make other people wealthy as well. Making America Great Again above all means making America rich and prosperous again.

The idea the peculiar virtue of poverty is one that is found in Christian asceticism. A few searches turned up several references, among them:

‘The poor will have the Gospel preached to them’ (Matt 11:6), we read in Scripture, precisely as one of the signs which mark the arrival of the Kingdom of God. Those who do not love and practice the virtue of poverty do not have Christ’s spirit. This holds true for everyone. For the hermit who retires to the desert; and for the ordinary Christian who lives among his fellow men, whether he enjoys the use of this world’s resources or is short of many of them.


St. Teresa Margaret could be a model for all who strive to grow in virtue. She approached the exercise of all the virtues in an intelligent and carefully planned manner. The little table in her cell contained many small scraps of paper with her resolutions carefully written out as reminders to her of her plan of action. The particulars in her practice of the virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience may not be wholly imitable for us who live outside the monastery but the motives which underlie her practices are the motives which drive us all in our spiritual lives, the desire to love and serve God and neighbor.


Pope Francis started ad libbing in Havana, and as often happens, when he speaks from the heart, confusion followed. Attending evening prayers with a group of priests, seminarians, monks and nuns, he went off script and spoke passionately about poverty…

While the pope’s unplanned comments are inspiring and moving, they could be open to misunderstanding, for he praised poverty in glowing terms. “Our Holy Mother Church is poor” the pope said. “God wants her poor as he wanted our Mother Mary poor. Love poverty as a mother…”

So if you want to know why modern progressives regard themselves as being so deeply virtuous, it is because, like Pope Francis and St Francis before him, they see virtue in poverty. And many of them are especially virtuous in that they do not selfishly seek this virtuous poverty for themselves, but instead selflessly only for other people. So it’s perfectly all right for Al Gore to jet around the world promoting the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and for the world to thereby be impoverished. Al Gore may not be virtuously poor himself, but he can reduce lots of other people to virtuous poverty.

And it’s the same with Michael Bloomberg and all the other virtuous millionaires, as they set out to impoverish the world by taking away its tobacco and its alcohol and its sugar and its chocolate.

About Frank Davis

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7 Responses to The Virtue of Poverty

  1. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    So true. The prevailing elitist world view of virtue is deeply paternalistic, patronising and hypocritical. Bloomberg is almost beaten in the lifestyle tyranny stakes by Australian mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, AO.
    Twiggy has a net worth of £4.6 billion, yes GBP Billion, yet sees no irony in loudly proclaiming that welfare recipients should have the begrudged pittance further controlled by a special restricted purpose debit card, and donates millions to the odious negative crusade against smokers. Mmm why would a mining magnate presume that is a suitable background to be a ‘public health’ aka hard coercive paternalist oracle… :-/

  2. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Yes ! These nasty bigots will make us all poor and miserable. We must lose no opportunity to oppose them and twart them. We can all start by buying our tobacco from smugglers or abroad. Leys not be terrorised by these bastards !

  3. Dirk Belgium says:

    Trump is not a very wealthy man. Why doesn’t he want to show his tax returns? He is afraid that the truth comes out. He is in debt. He is not a billionaire. He borrowed heavily from the Saudis and the Russians. Isn’t that obvious?
    If he were a billionaire he would proudly show his assets and his tax returns.
    On the other hand the despicable Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are billionaires unlike Trump.
    Trump does not care about poor people, he is a product of reality TV. He did not care when many people were not paid during the shutdown.
    And when people tell me where do you get your sources from, I respond: from Fox News, Alan Jones, stand-up comedians like Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Huff Post, Washington Post, and many other sources.
    Trump is behaving like Louis XIV of France: l’état, c’est moi.
    That means “I incarnate the state”, and therefore, all decisions have to go through me.
    As a barrister I am horrified by Trump’s ignorance.
    He does not understand the separation of powers. Separation of powers, division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government among separate and independent bodies. Such a separation limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government, since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.
    Trump demands loyalty. He does not understand that judges or an attorney general are part of the separation of powers.

  4. Clicky says:

  5. smokingscot says:

    Bloomberg threatened to run as a Democrat Presidential Candidate about 3.5 years ago. He chose not to in the end.

    It doesn’t take the IQ of a boiled cabbage to imagine what his advisors will tell him.

    – He’s been a thorn in the side of gun owners – and an awful lot of people in the US own guns.

    – He loathes tobacco smoke, has a distinct track record of wanting to tax and ban tobacco users so I doubt many smokers will vote for him.

    – He’s a Jew, so let’s just get real and assume large numbers of Muslims will not vote for him.

    – He’s swallowed the global warming cool aid, so is likely to sign up to that accord. Businesses don’t want it, nor do car drivers.

    There’s way lots more, bit my point is he’s alienated too many people over the years and I suspect is likely to be an “anyone but Bloomberg”.

    His bed, made by him, no one else to blame.

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    O/T The South Carolina House has given key approval to a bill that would keep local governments from passing any additional regulations on cigarettes or electronic cigarettes.

    Perhaps the long awaited backlash is near?

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