I’m looking forward to reading Bryan Caplan’s follow-up to his post, Poverty: The Stages of Blame. In the follow-up, he plans to explore what that implies about government and personal behavior.
This topic baffles me. When kept in the abstract, people seem to default to an attitude that ‘something must be done to help’ because people are poor ‘through no fault of their own.’
But, when you start talking about specific people, Caplan’s logic tends to override that abstract reasoning.
But, few people backtrack and wonder how many people really fall into that abstract “through no fault of their own.”
Update: Here’s Bryan’s follow-up post, Poverty: The Stages of Blame Applied. He makes good points.
Some economists believe increases in the minimum wage will have ‘little or no effect on employment.’
That’s possible. People who aren’t productive enough to make minimum wage will still be able to find sub-minimum wage work and those people won’t show up in unemployment statistics since they are not looking for a job.
Some sub-minimum wage jobs are legal. If you are self-employed, you don’t have to make minimum wage. A buddy of mine once owned a used car lot. While he was a staunch advocate of a minimum wage, his sales people were ‘self-employed’, so he wouldn’t have to pay them the minimum wage if they didn’t sell cars.
Also, unpaid internships and grad students often make less than minimum wage.
Some sub-minimum wage jobs aren’t legal. Many drugs are illegal, but somehow they are readily available everywhere.
So, in other words, while economists use the argument that a minimum wage hike will have ‘little or no effect on employment,’ they don’t come right out and that’s because those who ignore it already will continue to do so, as drugs will continue to be sold.
This is too easy. Sears Chief Exec, Eddie Lampert, said:
I believe the entire retail industry is headed to where we already are.
One sign of lackluster American education is that politicians who use the shrinking middle class prop get votes instead of laughs.
Post title from Carpe Diem: “Today’s new homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973, and the living space per person has doubled over last 40 years”
Weathermen are smart enough to look out the window to make sure that what they see with their own two eyes matches with their models and instrument.
If you believe the shrinking middle class myth, I suggest spending more time looking out your window and paying attention. Not only have house sizes grown, but middle class homes also include many more amenities than even 15 years ago such a bathroom (or at least bathroom sink) for everyone, walk-in closets, jetted tubs, three car garages, finished basements and the new trend, outdoor living spaces, to name a few.
Redistribution based on income inequality is a false choice. The reasoning goes something like this:
- There are wealthy people and poor people.
- Ignore why they are that way. Like many poor people are just kids starting out and many wealthy people have worked hard and saved their whole lives.
- Poor people place a higher value on an extra dollar than a rich person who already has plenty.
- Ignore that the behavior of rich people and poor people do not support this claim, otherwise poor people may be more interested in doing things that can earn and save them more dollars.
- Therefore, we should redistribute more dollars from the wealthy to the poor.
- Ignore the already high rate at which this is done.
Why do we only focus on wealthy people in our redistribution schemes?
In my opinion, things mustn’t be too bad if we can afford to support a host of marginal men’s and women’s sports programs from grade school through college, where most people who participate — especially at the higher levels — have few prospects for continuing in those sports after they get past those supported programs, except maybe to teach the next generation of youth to take advantage of those programs or to tell their glory day stories in the break room.
How many poor people could have been helped with the taxpayer money that has been put into all sorts of sports projects? Locally, we have taxpayer-funded pro sports stadiums and amateur sports facilities. Apparently playing soccer on grass is just too hard. Spending millions on fake grass fields for pre-teens to hone their soccer skills is the new norm.
Why don’t we look at more of such things and say if we really take external approaches to helping those in poverty seriously, why don’t we cut out all this other stuff?
From Walter Williams column, Concealing Evil:
Some might argue that we are a democracy, in which the majority rules. But does a majority consensus make moral acts that would otherwise be deemed immoral?