Smith and Malthus assumed the presence of the invisible hand of competition to be always at work in the economy. As oligopolies developed into monopolies that concentrated wealth and destroyed competition, Spencer and Sumner celebrated the widespread poverty that followed. After all, they argued that poverty is inevitable, and its presence lends proof of their precious theory. Never mind the hypocrisy inherent in public policies that favor the formation and accumulation of capital.
Spencer was wrong. Poverty is not a feature of national economies, but rather a bug. America has a long tradition of economic policies that serve the nation poorly by favoring capital over labor. Only when we come to realize that poverty is not inevitable can we enact policies that will eradicate it.
A logical starting point is to eliminate favors that have been given for the formation of capital -- corporate welfare -- and to eliminate penalties against the employment of labor. Both have long existed within the US tax structure and elsewhere in law and policy. A more practical and immediate starting point might be to restore the power of American voters through election finance reform and reversal of Citizens United. Perhaps the very best starting point would be to turn off Fox News and step away from the television.