Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Welfare Trait

James Thompson reviews Adam Perkins's The Welfare Trait. (HT: hbd chick)

Also of interest in the review is his third link "Are You a Nuisance?" from over a year ago.

Two thoughts: I include the link because I think it provides a caution to both liberals and conservatives/libertarians in the construction of the social safety net. Conservatives should take a step back because the effect measured turns out to be small.  While it is true that small effects year over year can become large (the compound interest of both vice and virtue), it is important to note that we're not in societal collapse yet, nor does it look like it will happen this year.  Cultural change is not linear, but it sure looks as if the Europeans are going to get a good look at the problems of poorly-designed benefit states a lot sooner than we will.  So observation, not outrage, is advised.

Liberals need to take note because the predictions of the heartless conservatives turn out to be true.  Rescuing the poor does make a measurable number of them worse and measurably increases their number. More poor people hardly seems like a good national goal.

Second thought:  These studies do not factor in what I think is a large consideration:  not all high receivers of services are in categories that will reproduce similarly high receivers in the next generation.  Children with Down's Syndrome use a lot of government services on their way through life. And then that's all. Perhaps I am missing something, and those are not the ultra-high users who do have gradually higher reproduction rates, and the data is washing out there. Yet I know lots of ultra-high users - mental health, corrections, medical - and a lot of them don't have children nor will ever. Therefore, if the ultra-high users in general are reproducing at a higher rate, even with a subset that is non-reproducing, then that could indeed get out of hand quickly.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

Welfare wouldn't be a very challenging social problem if it were received only by severely disabled people. It's the impact on the fairly able-bodied that worries us.