by Tyler Cowen
on August 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm
in Economics, Philosophy |
Read the whole thing.
“Read the whole thing” –> most overused phrase in this neck of the blogosphere. I’d say maybe 1% of the time that it’s used, it’s justified. If I did that every time a blogger skimmed something that looked neat and then made that suggestion, I’d have read about as much as Tyler_Cowen claims he’s read.
One of the things I love about MR is that Tyler (and Alex) will usually provide a snippet or summary of some item, like Tyler did with Nagel’s upcoming book. This way, I can decide for myself whether to read more. A bare command to “read the whole thing” is just plain laziness.
Silas, for what it’s worth, I have read the whole thing and found it to be quite worthwhile. Tyler is right!
Bryan Caplan sometimes has interesting things to say but is rarely worth “reading the whole thing”.
Fortunately, this piece was almost entirely Bill Dickens.
Tyler – thanks for the link. I’ve followed Dickens’s writings for some time and it is good that he has offered some very detailed critiques to Professor Caplan. Caplan should take these to heart and address them specifically as it will make his book all the better. I just finished the Barlett and Steele polemic, “The Betrayal of the American Dream” which hits at this whole issue. We’ve seen such a loss of job opportunities because the manufacturing sector has been decimated for a variety of reasons (one doesn’t see the same thing happening in Germany) such that there really are a lack of opportunities in this country. When you start adding up child care expenses, transportation costs, and pretty much limiting job opportunities it’s not difficult to see where some of the problems lay. Perhaps Caplan and others who make the arguments against the current ‘welfare’ state ought to take a summer off and work at a minimum wage job in much the same way Barbara Ehrenreich (‘Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America’) did several years ago and see what it’s like to try to make ends meet. Clearly they can always go back the the campus in the fall but I wonder who long they would last taking the bus back and forth to work in some service type occupation (I’ll leave the choice to Caplan), restricting ones food and entertainment budget to only the amount of money earned from this occupation. It might give him a greater appreciation for the points Dickens has made.
Most economists agree that the minimum wage should be abolished.
Most supply side / freshwater economists, maybe.
The others agree that if you cherry-pick the right study that it’s hard to show that it does much at all.
Is this the best that Bill Dickens can do?
Well it’s certainly better than your throw away line which offers no critique at all.
I read his response again, just to make sure that I did not overlook some nugget. Once you throw out assertions and anecdotes, there is little of substance in a rather lengthy “response”.
Please point out where Bryan Caplan engaged in anything other than moral intuition pumping and appeal to his “common sense” musings about the causal pathways behind various (unsourced, “common knowledge”) observations about the poor in America.
So, Rich, what do think of these two arguments of Bill’s?
1) “Overwhelmingly, government money goes to families with children. Whatever you may think of the parents’ behavior the main recipients of government money are children and the disabled. You want to take money away from them?” and 2) “Better buckets are good. Very leaky buckets need to be dropped or replaced. But leaks are not a reason by themselves not to try to use a bucket.”
It’s hard to assign fault to the children born into economically disadvantaged homes. And guess what? Most of the adults who don’t seem deserving now were innocent children with bad draws once too. I find the efficiency/equity arguments for limited re-distribution more convincing when we at least try to level the playing field. I also liked the Okun bucket reference about transfer programs…just because our programs to serve the poor are flawed does not mean we should give up. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.
Many of these people would not have been born if the women in question knew the consequences would be dire for doing so. As of now its basically a monetary reward.
asdf, so tell me how are the children culpable? I missed that in your response.
They’re not. What’s your point? How are people who get randomly struck by lightning in broad daylight culpable? How are people who have a sinkhole open up under their home culpable? How are people hit by a drunk driver who is judgment proof culpable?
One of Bill’s arguments to Bryan (I quoted apart above) is essentially that if you’re against the current welfare programs to the poor then you’re against helping these children. Bryan was the one who asserted bad behavior was a major cause of poverty, so the issue of culpability of the recipients comes up.
Cliff, every example you cite is something that can be mitigated with insurance. Most people in the middle class have insurance for those kinds of things. Most poor people do not. Especially most poor children.
I’m sorry but this is why women shouldn’t vote.
The second question you aren’t addressing is, how are strangers responsible? I’ve got my eye on a little hottie here in my neck of the woods. I don’t intend to marry her, and I don’t like condoms, so I’m going to make my move and send you the bill. Does that sound fair, or even efficient?
Think about what your argument implies. Unwed mothers aren’t to blame because women are wide-eyed naifs with dreams of white picket fences and stalwart breadwinners who’ll pay for diapers and groceries. The poor dears can’t be counted on to have sex with responsible men.
How are my children culpable?
Or do you folks know where the secret free unicorns crapping rainbows meadow is?
I’m not Rich, but…
1) Why does the lack of culpability on the part of the children imply responsibility on the part of strangers who know of neither the mother nor her children?
2) That depends on the price of water.
Your question 1) is interesting. It reminds me of Caplan’s title “Who to blame?”
The debate is held as if, once we successfully blamed someone, we no longer have to address the misery. It’s like wealthy people trying to find a way to say, “See? I didn’t do it, now leave me alone.” That is vastly different from a debate that sincerely tries to find the best solutions to prevent the misery and create good quality of life.
Of course, many people are selfish, and I would be surprised if Caplan actually cared about the misery. However, I find his moral realism naive. There is no reason – none – why people who actually care more about the misery than about the blaming to care about the property rights of the rich who only engage in blaming rather than in ethical consequentialism.
Kevin, why are strangers responsible for these children? Because it could have been them but wasn’t. We get our family by chance, not choice. By no means does welfare equalize living standards across children, but it does protect against some of the most dire outcomes.
So strangers are responsible because a thing happened over which they had no control? That’s a funny definition of responsibility.
I am funny like that…I believe to whom much is given, much is expected. Again I would not follow this to an extreme of utopian (hell?) of perfect equality, but I think we all benefit from a basic safety net.
None of that implies the parents deserve anything. Much was given to the parents. They blew it. They are lucky they get to keep the kids. But I don’t think kids need to keep up with the Jones’s either, so I wouldn’t be the one to take them away. Isn’t it funny how there is always animal feces at these houses where kids are taken away? I wonder if social services plant animal feces like cops plant doobies.
Anyway, not much was given to me or my parents that we didn’t pay more than our fair share for, btw. And it isn’t pure chance who gets the crappy parents. The parents decide that. The parents should owe a debt, and I figure an entitlement lien is as good as anything available now. And if the kids make the same choice due to genetics, culture, or whatever, then I figure they also owe back the money because they proved they weren’t innocent victims. They don’t ever have to pay, they just don’t get any more “innocent victim” considerations.
Btw, the government has no claim on most of what is “given to people.” Contra Rawls or Malthus or whoever, “society” doesn’t own that even if it is not something we earned. Done stamp on that.
Secondly, few people are interested in “punishing” the kids, even though that can be philosophically justified. The people who keep talking about the innocent kids are trying to pivot the argument.
Third, the “help” that these people get sometimes isn’t really help anyway even if it gets to them. For example, schooling costs a lot more than it should. Helping the kids doesn’t justify all manner of ineffective, inefficient and notional efforts under the auspices of that goal. A lot of the assumptions behind having to help the kids is how artificially expensive we’ve made child-rearing in order to justify a bloated welfare state. E.g. unschooling is a thing.
Fourth, the way the debater defends the support systems based on how they help kids is how they got that way through discussions and debates similar to this.
People should make their own choices, but then they should live with them.
From Brookings: “Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites. Every year about one million more children are born into fatherless families. If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering.”
The current share of black children born out of wedlock is estimated at 75%. This is not a minor issue of an unlucky few. This is a central charactistic of family structure for the black community.
At a minimum, policy should not encourage such behavior–it should be neutral. At a maximum, policy should aggressively discourage unwed mothers, as it is the principle driver of poverty and a host of other social maladies.
I understand your views on this, but the issue here is not personal choice, blame, charity or compassion. It’s culture and social norms.
For god sake, someone get these kids some nice homosexual parents!
But seriously, I wonder if there is any way government stands in the way of two working mothers combining families under one roof.
Unfortunately, we never get to the part of the debate where effective sympathy hides out.
I do believe in personal responsibility. I just don’t view children as responsible for their parents choices. I am sympathetic to the concerns raised here about the welfare state. I thought Bill said it well when he said welfare should not be seen as a career choice. I totally agree with that. As for out-of-wedlock births, how much of that increase do you think can be accounted for by welfare? It’s a vexing problem, but I suspect that the direct effects of our welfare programs are modest. I accept that well-intentioned policies can make a bigger mess and “help” people in ways that are not helpful, but compassion gets us in no more trouble than a lack of compassion. It’s all about balance.
There’s gotta be somebody at the bottom to do the crap jobs, regardless of responsibility, hard work, or good decisions.
Those jobs can 9and will) be automated.
Not so long as it’s cheaper just to import more proles and socialize the costs with welfare. I’ve noticed Solow doesn’t get any mention on these pages.
I get the idea that the economists won’t be happy until we’ve replicated Koyaanisqatsi in the US. Is that the only way for the Keynesians’ books to balance? If they’ve miscalculated, then we’re in for a grim future.
The market wage for those jobs need not necessarily be low. Right now it is because there’s a large supply of people capable of doing those jobs and not much else. If everyone were capable of doing highly skilled work, then the opportunity cost of using labor for menial work would rise, and the wage would rise accordingly. In a world of genuinely homogeneous workers, menial work might even pay more to compensate for the greater disutility to workers.
“Bryan, there is one thing I really think you ought to do before you write this book and that is to spend some time with people who are receiving state benefits and the wider group of poor who do not receive benefits but remain poor. If you do I think you will find it very hard to believe that these people are unaware of the consequences of their actions and that they aren’t, overwhelmingly, trying to make their lives work. ”
This is a fair point by Dickens, but the odds of it happening are approximately zero. Caplan has no interest in actually understanding the poor and their lives. The poor are just moochers, looters, etc.
Would anyone trust a Randian like Caplan to look out for the well-being of the poor? Would you trust a Communist to look out for the well-being of the bourgeoisie? Or Steve Sailer to look out for the well-being of immigrants?
“Would anyone trust a Randian like Caplan to look out for the well-being of the poor?”
Yes. By, for example ignoring what the poor claim they want and by getting busy on what they actually need- economic growth.
I worked shit jobs in high school. And I’ve observed many of the people on welfare. They are not saints, in fact generally they are some of the worst people out there.
Anectodes are easy, data is harder. How do you know they were on welfare? I know plenty of middle class people that are some of the worst people out there too.
But anecdotes are exactly what you are recommending.
Once Caplan gets to the level of anecdotes, he will be much more informed than he currently is.
And I more wanted asdf to explain his anecdotes. A lot of time what people know about lots of their “best friends” who are black is incorrect or people they “know” are on welfare that in fact are not.
Because Bill spoke with a hundred or so of those people…
I spend quite a bit of time with “poor people” and I am often shocked at the choices that they make. At one time in my life, I think that you would have called me poor and that time was pretty long after graduating college so I don mean the poor of a college student. I was about 30 when I got my first job that paid more than about 25% above minimum wage. And I mostly agree with Brian. BTW I think that the most anti-welfare people are the working poor. I do support a wage subsidy though.
“A lot of single mothers had their children with a husband or boyfriend they had hoped to marry.”
Hoped to marry… *Facepalm*
When you provide bailouts for X, you get more of X occurring. When you subsidize X, you get more X.
Bailing out and/or subsidizing single motherhood by low socioeconomic women knocked up by deadbeat fathers is no exception.
Then we have the resulting daughters who will tend to inherit their mothers’ low impulse control and/or penchant for deadbeat guys and the resulting sons who will tend to inherit their fathers’ penchant for being deadbeats. Probably not the kinds of people society needs more of.
Likewise, we should probably eliminate the fire department, what with it’s bailing people out of fires. It just subsidizes negligence.
Yes, because getting pregnant is something that happens at random and there are no actions you can take to prevent it.
Because people choose to have their house burn down. Try again.
And women get pregnant to get food stamps? You try again.
Subtract “to get food stamps” and replace with “on purpose”.
Are falling birth rates economically better than higher welfare costs?
This isn’t rocket science. Welfare lowers the cost to poor, unmarried women of having children. It may not lower the cost into negative territory, but if a woman wants a baby but can’t afford one, welfare may push the cost down to a level she’s willing and about to pay. The idea that welfare recipients are having children at a profit is a strawman.
Brandon, I am sorry but women don’t usually have a reservation “price” for having a baby. I disagree with Miley (and agree with Bill) on this thread. Moms on welfare generally had happier hopes and dreams than collecting a check from the government. I will grant you that social insurance introduces some more hazard, but it’s a leak in the bucket. Also I think it’s worth considering the role of uncertainty and adverse shocks…actions and outcomes aren’t so tightly linked (ex ante or ex post). Please go up and call Miley out on his straw people too.
My wife was married to me for 10 years before pulling the trigger.
Why are the poor incapable of tricking their wives for that long?
Maybe the unlucky poor have been reading my writings on how we are fucking up our genomes by waiting until we have great careers to have our kids.
Andrew’, the birth of my two kids was carefully planned too. So what? No amount of welfare reform is going to turn the low income population into a bunch of people like us. (You wanna talk about rainbow pooping unicorns?) Read Bill’s critique of Bryan’s rationality. Pretty much applies to all us here to some degree.
The point is that the fact that bail outs encourage what one is bailing out is not sufficient reason for opposing bail outs, not that pregnancy and fires are the same.
But please, tell me more about how fires simply happen at random and there are no actions you can take to prevent them, and that individual choices have nothing to do with houses catching on fire.
Also, please let me know when a woman actively chooses for a sperm to fertilize an egg in her fallopian tube (“getting pregnant”.) Women choose to have sex and to carry children to term (though plenty of people seem to want to make that choice illegal). They don’t choose to get pregnant.
With a sufficiently stupid standard for what choices generate culpability, the bulk of fires are a result of personal choices – the exceptions I can think of being fires caused by lightning, caused by arsonists, or caused by a fire caused by another’s negligence. But of course one is to some extent culpable for all of those for not taking ‘sufficient preventative measures.’
Obviously that’s the whole argument. To what extent is poverty caused by the welfare state’s incentives?
Yes, so why think that merely pointing out that bail outs create negative feedback amounts to an argument?
The difference is that (1) the people affected by fires in your town are your neighbors, and (2) you could see yourself being affected by a fire. For the social welfare or the pregnancy examples, (1) you probably don’t know any of the people affected or (2) you can’t see yourself being affected enough in that to need the “bailout.” Despite all the fancy words, your attitude toward a particular “bailout” probably just come down to whether you can emphasize or not with the recipient of that “bailout” category.
Sorry, when I say “you,” I mean “you in general,” not GiT
And substitute “empathize” for “emphasize.” Geez.
Bryan Caplan is yet to demonstrate that he is capable of empathizing with anything.
And this isn’t the place to start.
In another world we wouldn’t call this “punishment” for the innocent children. We’d call it “consequences” of bad decisions that bad people foist onto two groups of innocent people, their kids who they should care about and if they ever had an ounce of foresight should spend it there, and the other innocent people who want to help their innocent children as efficiently as possible.
You don’t even need to argue over the exact mechanism. We’ve been doing both long enough to know that subsidizing fire departments has correlated with a decrease in fires, whereas subsidizing illegitimate children has correlated with more such children.
I’d hypothesize that the average individual doesn’t pay as much attention to fire safety as in the past, but that the subsidy-inflated number of firemen and safety regulations more than makes up for this. Maybe the comparison would be more correct if we were funding involuntary birth control.
Andrew- here we are seeing a true philosophical distinction between liberalism and conservativism, and that many libertarians are actually conservatives and not liberals. Liberals see people as individuals, so the children, who made no choice in their parents, are going to have their lives ruined by the choices of their parents. You seem to be implying that the children should not have equal opportunities as other children because of random assignment to parents.
Conservatives see traditional social structures, the family, etc. as much more important. This is why you see the children of the poor as sharing the same fate as the leaders of their family (the parents).
This is really where the rubber meets the road in the debate on equal opportunity and some sense of justice. When conservatives say they support equality of outcome, they really mean the status quo, which is unequal. We need to have a welfare state to ensure that everyone has an equal chance, and eliminating the welfare state will make this even worse. We’re not trying to punish your kids or mine or anybody else’s- we’re trying to avoid an implicit caste system where opportunity is largely inherited from your parents rather than earned. This is one of the philosophical underpinnings of America and the American Dream.
Equal of opportunity is illusory, short of equality of conditions (think Plato’s Republic.)
A kid born into the bottom quintile has a 6% chance of reaching the top quintile. Presumably, 20% is liberal nirvana. Walk into a poor classroom with 33 kids and announce: “Guess what! Two of you are gonna make it BIG!” This sounds like opportunity to me, not a caste system.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. To me, “I care, so I recommend throwing a bunch of OPM at [insert social problem]” is not morally exculpatory.
You want to give poor kids trying to better themselves a lifeline? Give ‘em a voucher. I mean, after you run it by the teachers’ union.
A baby is a good thing that many people want no one wants their house to burn.
Likewise, we should probably eliminate the fire department, what with it’s bailing people out of fires. It just subsidizes negligence
I can honestly say that is one brilliant and thought provoking repsponse.
Garbage in, garbage out. I’m merely riffing on the brilliant and thought provoking insight provided by Miley Cyrax.
The analogy doesn’t really work though. Nobody wants their house to burn down. People don’t get pregnant because they’re “negligent”, they get pregnant because they want to have a child.
It does subsidize negligence, but probably not at a relevant margin. And that doesn’t automatically mean we should do away with it. We should simply make the negligent pay for their negligence.
If we save everyone from getting stuck on top of mountains do you think we’ll have more or fewer rescues? If we make the rescued pay for their rescue do you think people will be more or less negligent in their planning?
Fires can spread from the houses of the culpable to those whose only error was living next to a risky house. It can make sense to put out one fire for the sake of the rest of the community. But right now we really do have too many firefighters, since buildings are constructed out of much less flammable materials than they used to be.
But how many fires actually spread and how many are prevented from spreading? That would be interesting to know, if perhaps unknowable. Maybe even more fires spread because of the moral hazard of having fire departments. However, few people want their family to burn to death, so it may not be a relevant effect. On the other hand, we do jawbone pretty hard on having smoke detectors and good batteries.
Fires can spread from the houses of the culpable to those whose only error was living next to a risky house
And going with the cheap option of wood shingle siding and asphalt roofing. If they went with bricks and slate they wouldn’t need to worry about stray embers from their neighbors house.
A baby is a good thing that many people want no one wants their house to burn.
Because government pays of fires departments they mandate fire retardant materials. How would you feel if because of AFDC one needed to put up bond to be allowed to have children?
I think they both make some valid points, however, they are both missing one important point, IMO. Yes, some poor persons make very bad decisions; likewise, some rich people do too. And yes, there should be some assistance to help out the children who in no way made a bad decision. But that could be avoided, for the most part, if people waited to have children until they were in a financially secure position. Dickens notes that most mothers he talked to were anticipating marrying their boyfriend at some point but were unable to or did not. But this completely misses the point, they should have been married beforehand. I think Caplan has the ability to make this point, which he half-heartedly tries at one point but does not. It is possible that our culture has shunned traditional values (i.e., not having children until marriage) to a point of inculcating bad decisions into people. However, I realize I am posting something about traditional values on a libertarian website, so I am likely to be blacklisted and ostracized from here on out.
Not at all. In fact I will probably have one fewer kids due to waiting. Liberals want to subsidize non-traditional lifestyles. Conservatives want to punish them. Libertarians just say “well, there you are. We sincerely hope you are happy.”
I agree that we cannot very well let poor children, dependent on only their mother, suffer. But we don’t have to say it is ok to have children without two parents (married or functional equivalent) to support them.
I don’t suppose it is politically feasible to say bad things about unwed mothers while giving them a check, but we should begin tracking how children do in school by parental status (married, widowed, divorced, never married) to generate some publicity.
Sociologists of the family have been doing this for a while. Google “Family Structure and Child Outcomes”.
I know it is done, just not publicized too much. I spent twelve years on a school board and routinely saw all sorts of reports showing how various ethnic/racial groups of children did in school or how school success varied with family income or language spoken in the home. In the education world one has to go looking for the information to find the effects of one parent versus two.
Apparently you haven’t read the rest of the thread or followed basically any of the conservative discourse on welfare. People say lots of bad things about unwed mothers
You know, all you conservatives who are so enamored with incentives and consequences and have decided that welfare causes high birth rates amongst the poor should consider that there are lots of examples of societies that have no safety net. How do you think the birth rate here compares to, say, the generous welfare states of sub-Saharan Africa?
I don’t think you understand incentives and consequences.
I haven’t decided anything and am enamored with nothing. But let me put it this way: if subsidizing children creates an incentive to have more children, fix that. If subsidizing children does not effect the number of pregnancies, then you still need to work on minimizing the cost of providing support to the children because the money comes out of the pocket of productive people and who knows what you are defunding.
Oh, and it’s not just that incentives might be ineffective for the irresponsible (but it appears they are) it is that my kid pays non-reduced lunch. Do you think I don’t factor that into the cost of child-rearing?
Politics makes us crazy. I say that people who will disagree down the line about “how to deal with the poor”, if they were paired up and asked to address the specific problems of specific people, would agree in almost every case about what to do. One person might need some child care until they had some resources, another might be impossible to help until they got off the sauce or simply dealt with some character issues, another might need a bed to sleep in or some counseling. We’d all look at these individuals and basically agree on a range of solutions.
But, partly because politics makes us crazy, and partly because government bureaucracies covering 300 million people aren’t made for ad hoc solutions, the poor are left with a mess of half-solutions and moral hazard issues. That’s why I wish we’d just institute a flat tax which is applied to every penny of income after each citizen receives some minimum income. Then, private charities can try to deal with people who lack the ability to live responsibly in that regime.
Everything that works in my life works precisely because I wasn’t asked my opinion about it (my smartphone, toothpaste, grocery distribution). If there is a blog or a radio show where people like me are arguing about the solution, it’s already a failure, and it is unlikely to get fixed (schools, the Fed, poor relief). Let’s solve the basic problem with a minimum income and then leave the solutions to the remaining problems around the edges to those of us who decide to tackle specific problems we see that we can solve without attaining a political consensus.
Of course it’s easier to solve a particular individual’s problems, if you don’t have to worry about costs, or moral hazard, or anything like that. Finding the set of policies that produces the optimal general equilibrium, where opitmality is defined in terms of the heterogeneous and underspecified values of the voters, is a very different problem.
“they know it would be better if their children’s father was there to help support their kids.”
It’s almost time to end the discourse. Two America’s please.
“Overwhelmingly, government money goes to families with children. Whatever you may think of the parents’ behavior the main recipients of government money are children and the disabled. You want to take money away from them? ”
I love it when people tout a snap-shot as justification for how the system is as if it has always been thus. For all I know this is the situation now because people complained about this not being the case at the time in the past. Maybe it was broken and it was fixed. And does subsidizing kids not produce more kids to subsidize? That would be an unexpected result from economics, no?
“Unless you really are going to start punishing children for their parents’ sins ”
This is what some people never understand: I’d hate to punish the kids, but you want to punish my kids. The irresponsible parents created the punishment. The punishment has to be distributed. Let’s punish the kids as little as we can past the punishment their irresponsible parents doomed them to, and let’s punish the innocent helpers as little as the irresponsible parents have shirked onto us. And let’s figure out how to push the punishment back onto the irresponsible parents (1) to keep them from dividing their insufficient resources over more kids and (2) ding their future entitlement benefits after the kids have been taken care of.
“I believe that most people with that view are misinformed about who gets government transfers, how the programs are administered, the amount of the benefits, and how much of their taxes go to such programs. ”
Daycare is subsdized. School and transpo is free. Lunches and breakfasts are heavily subsidized. Not to mention that schooling for some kids is just babysitting as those kids disrupt the classrooms and bully the kids for which schooling is at least an attempt at education despite the school. I think some people are unaware at how much subsidy is going on beyond just Federal programs. Voters I suspect look at how they perceive the big picture and not just the explicitly on-budget programs.
And you don’t support cuts or eliminating these programs you mentioned? It’s nice to say- “We can cut somewhere else- there’s a social safety net they can rely on” if you support shredding that system piece by piece.
I support restructuring everything.
So do you also see any problem in arguing that some part of the social safety net can be eliminated because there are other portions there for people, even though you support weakening those too?
The exchange is interesting but to some degree irrelevant. Regardless of whether it’s fair or not to have a greater amount of income distribution, the political desire to implement it is missing. It’s quite possible America can tweak the existing budgets and move money from one category to another, much as Obamacare relies on reallocating money from Medicare to account for a lot of it’s expenses.
However, I don’t sense the political desire in America to increase taxes enough to significantly change the current income transfers. Even the new fairly modest taxes Obamacare raises are in danger of revocation and the budgetary ‘savings’ created by paying substantially less money to providers over the next 20 years seems to have little chance of working.
American’s have shown little appetite for high taxes. Indeed, they’ve shown a consistent preference for voting for lower taxes over the last 50 years. Wishes to the contrary aren’t going to change that.
When conservatives say they support equality of outcome,
Which conservatives? Conservative Marxists?
they really mean the status quo, which is unequal.
The status quo is always unequal. It’s called reality.
We need to have a welfare state to ensure that everyone has an equal chance, and eliminating the welfare state will make this even worse.
No we don’t. America was a place of unparallelled opportunity long before people like you decided to immanentize the eschaton.
Immanentize the eschaton? Seriously? Hilarious.
Does Bill also argue that we should send checks to the poor of other countries?
Read the whole thing.
You wish is my command.
What Earthly Difference does it make “who is to blame?”
Society can really only tolerate a finite level of what we might call free-riding. Government can only really extract a finite amount of resources – most of which will per force be spent on the general population. This means that long term the pool of resources available for ‘welfare” will be limited, probably very limited indeed for the next several decades, regardless of who wins elections or what happens with tax law. (Observe the less-than-smooth changes in progress in Europe.)
Drop the “who to blame” debate – it’s a waste. Focus instead on “by what practical means can we keep people from falling into these traps?”
Hi my family member! I wish to say that this article is awesome, great written and include approximately all significant infos.
I would like to peer extra posts like this .
Comments on this entry are closed.
Previous post: A look at U.S. income growth
Next post: Christopher Balding on the real risk in China
Email Tyler Cowen
Follow Tyler on Twitter
Email Alex Tabarrok
Follow Alex on Twitter
Subscribe in a reader
Follow Us on Twitter
Marginal Revolution on Twitter Counter.com
Get smart with the Thesis WordPress Theme from DIYthemes.