The Root Cause of Terrorism is.......Welfare

The oft-stated theory that poverty causes terrorism isn’t just wrong – it’s nearly backwards.

Providing welfare to the non-working poor doesn’t prevent terrorism; it causes terrorism.

Do you agree?

Blogger Mickey Kaus advanced the theory here.

Mark Steyne supported the theory here

An interesting theory, but without any facts - by which I mean real, hard facts, not anecdotes- it’s just pissing in the wind, isn’t it?

Who cares what Mark Steyn’s opinion is? Get facts from others, form opinions yourself.

Do they have welfare in Afghanistan?

hmm. Well, when refugees, for instance, come to the U.K. for asylum, there are not permitted to work until the case is fully assessed etc, so they receive rather a low level of benefit. No doubt if they did work, a certain sort of person would than complain that they were “stealing all our jobs”.


No. But, then, the terrorists have not been Afghanis. al-Qaeda recruited a lot of Saudis and Egyptians and others to fight in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the whole notion of the quoted columnists is silly. Most of the terrorists involved in al-Qaeda have been upper middle class, even wealthy, recruits, but Israel is not handing out welfare checks to the Palestinians, so it appears that welfare only encourages terrorism against the U.S., not all terrorism.

The columnists quoted have taken one aspect of the sources of rebellion and terrorism (the poverty of the lands in which terrorism is involved) and pointed to a couple of disparate events to claim that welfare is creating terrorism (and crime).

There may or may not be some connections between some variations of welfare and some types or occurences of crime. In the articles quoted, however, we merely see facile right-wing misapplied logic (based on no serious information) that we are invited to wrangle over.

Based on the experience in the U.S. (and following the “logic” proposed thus far), I would have to conclude that the primary sources of terrorism, here, are based on an association with failures in the U.S. military and college drop-outs (Tim McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Bill Gates) so we should simply lock up anyone who enters the military or college, then fails or drops out.

Interesting points. Two quibbles:

**The UN relief agency does provide welfare to the Palestinians in refugee camps. (BTW the US contributes 30% of it.) Relatively few of them have jobs.

You seem to be implying that Kaczynski was a college dropout. Actually he got a PhD in mathematics and was on the UC Berkeley faculty in 1968.

Monetary welfare or food stamps, clothing and basic necessities?

The Unabomber had a PhD in math? I never knew that.

erislover - yep -


Sorry. I had confused an ancient memory of Kaczynski leaving a college under his own power but under a cloud with him dropping out of college before graduation. (I still have Gates, however.)

I used google. There are lots of sites with relevant information at

So, december, you are suggesting that if Israel had begun working to establish a genuine Palestinian state in August of 1967, working to get a government established and bringing in industry for the inhabitants, instead of simply holding them in a state of suspended animation for 35 years with no way to create jobs to employ themselves, there might be less chance of terrorism in the region, today.

That seems to have been a good idea. Too bad no one actually tried it.

Almost right. I am suggesting that if the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had done those things, there would be less terrorism today. And the Palestinain people would be a helova lot better off.

The UN chose to take responsibility for the refugees after the 1948 war. They’ve been in charge ever since. UNRWA disburses the funds to operate the camps, supports the schools, etc.

Israel did provide some jobs for Palestinian refugees, and they deserve credit for having done so.

december thinks that the UN should have made a Palestinian state. The UN should have established a Palestinian State! The UN could have stopped terrorism by establishing a Palestinian State!

I had to say it three times before I could believe it.

However, Israel has been the only force on the ground in the Occupied Territories for 35 years (as opposed to the 11 years that the UN shared it with Jordan–during which there were two wars).

I am well aware that both the displaced Palestinians and the surrounding Arab nations have interfered with the possibility of nation-building. However, to pretend that Israel had no part in preventing that nation-building (on land that they were flooding with settlers) is to simply declare that one does not live on this planet or have any knowledge of its history.

The alternatives for the non-Israeli peoples in the Occupied Territories have been:

  1. welfare
  2. a nation with industry
  3. elimination.

Given that #3 is outside the limited morality even of Sharon, and that Israel has forcibly interfered with #2, your argument indicates that Israel (by reducing the options to #1) is responsible for the current terrorism.

I am disinclined to argue that Israel is the sole cause of the problems in that region, but then, I am not arguing that welfare is the source of terrorism.

This typo

should have read:

the 19 years that the UN shared it with Jordan

well, the board ate my prior response, which would have been much more pithy and timely. sigh.

anyhow. The ‘evidence’ for the theory that welfare begets terrorism, from the link in the OP seems to be that two of the men suspected of 9/11 actions, had at some point or another collected welfare support. (of course we won’t worry about other terrorists who did not collect state support - isn’t Ossama his own little self a very wealthy man? - nor will we concern ourselves with the hosts of people who have collected some form of state support and not blown buildings up, and absolutely we won’t even begin to touch any concept about ‘corporate welfare’ )

Now, putting on my december/English/ English december goggles, I also bring to the forefront, his theories from another recent thread, in which some one being **suspected ** of being a terrorist should remain in custody, even if there’s no evidence that they are a terrorist, because of course, the mere possability of them being a terrorist, combined with the horror of what terrorists can do = justification for changing rules of law.

Add to this, the welfare causes terrorist concept, and we have (drum roll please) Lock up all welfare recipients, since some of them might become terrorists, and we know what that means.

Now, for my real point.

I move that **december ** be forbidden from reading op/ed pieces. all in favor, say “ayeCarumba”

Nah! Keep him around. Every once in a while my blood pressure need the elevation. We can make it into a slogan: “Low blood pressure? No throbbing veins in your forehead? Read December’s latest post!”

Haven’t had enough head-slapping stupidity in the day? Read december’s latest post!

aye Carumba!