24 May 2015

How to complain about something that's already going on

Guaranteed income edition. 

Most of these are problems for the existing system as well.

The cost argument of the entitlement state is a pretty compelling reason to reform it. I'd frankly just abolish or phase out Medicare and roll it into Medicaid for people who are poorer and older, and a negative income tax would be far more useful than SSI, as starting points, as most entitlements tend to benefit people who already have money and take it from people who don't or won't live as long, etc. My concern here is more poverty alleviation and provision of basic need, not universal health care (that could be done many ways as preferred). The point here is that the expanding cost of provision of entitlements is going to be a problem (we can make it a smaller one of course). These questions of the costs of providing these benefits being difficult to assign or fix is not something that disappears. On the contrary, the costs become less visible than transferring cash directly.

The second is typically an argument that we get over some things and not for others, so for example Republicans tried to cut SNAP aid but not crop subsidies. Both corporate and individual welfare programs are a form of state-aid supports. The one is arguably justifiable (individuals), the other is far less so (businesses). I think of the arguments against it, this is the most compelling question really as it impacts the former question (how much) and the next (who gets it). But, as I said, this is a problem that already exists baked into the present welfare state. We already talk about what kinds are acceptable and which are not. The distinction is that the price tag and the benefits to transfer recipients is less clear. For one example, not everyone seems to realize program X is the government, for another, it isn't clear that it works better than giving a wad of cash in each case. Food stamps is a pretty efficient policy really on the face of it for helping with poverty and its basically a wad of cash. Because everyone needs food, it gets spent. The mortgage interest deduction is not like this because it distorts the prices of housing and not everyone needs to buy a home to have shelter.

Getting a wad of cash is pretty clear on both fronts, and could be adjusted for specific policies from there to provide some specific stipends or vouchers as needed. That's a discussion we are already having, so we may as well make it easier to have.

The third is a wide spread theory for why Americans have a less generous welfare state in the first place than many European states or other OECD countries. Namely that we have a lot of minorities, natively, and a lot of immigrants. Xenophobia is an in-group, out-group problem that doesn't require a national boundary to kick in and allows Americans to exercise a degree of moral supremacy over those "lazy poor people" or "those socialist Europeans" or some such.
Post a Comment