“Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.” — AYN RAND, “Theory and Practice,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 136
The other side of that question is: what about those who are not poor?
What of them? Let us not forget that the “rich” are people too with an equal right to their life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
The fact that one is poor is no justification to rob someone who is less poor than you. That a man does not have riches, and another does, is no excuse for the first to rob the latter — neither is it a moral justification for the state to rob the first for the benefit of the latter.
Now when I mean “rich,” I do not mean cronies who gained their fortunes by political pull, by having the government grant them favors and franchises at the expense of their fellow-men. By “rich,” in this context, I refer to businessmen who achieved their fortunes by economic means — through production and trade.
As for poverty, under capitalism, no poor man is prohibited from creating a fortune. Observe that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century America how hundreds of poor immigrants, came to America and within a generation were America’s newest elite. Even today, in semi-free America, many such immigrants come here starting with nothing and create fortunes — despite the volumes of irrational regulations that punish those who have an urgent need to accumulate capital (the poor).
The question accepts the collectivist premise that wealth is a static quantity owned by that amorphous super-organism the “collective” to be looted from those individuals who create it. The “poor” don’t need government handouts — they need government off their backs and most importantly off the backs of those who can help them — the “rich.”
To answer the question, “What about the poor under capitalism?” one must first answer, “Why are there poor people in the first place?” The source of all poverty is the lack of wealth, which must be produced. The source of production (and thus wealth) is man’s mind, which politically has only one requirement: freedom. Politically, this is the single cause of mass poverty: the lack of freedom. Observe the poorest countries are those where capitalism is lacking.