The New Normal Can’t Last

Last week we received the “good news” about the economy. Unsurprisingly, I was a bit skeptical (here). While jobs are being created—321,000 in November alone—long-term unemployment and workplace participation rates remain abysmal. For those who would like to celebrate the recovery, I recommend Binyamin Appelbaum piece on “The Vanishing Male Worker” (NYT). As Appelbaum notes: … Continue reading The New Normal Can’t Last

Putting Economic Inequality in Perspective

Many people are concerned about income and wealth inequality. I am not concerned about economic inequality as such; I care about absolute poverty (how many people live in misery because of wretched physical conditions), and I care about a broad distribution of opportunity (everyone's having a "fair shot" at economic success), but I don't see … Continue reading Putting Economic Inequality in Perspective

More on OECD Welfare States

In my last post, I said "total net social spending" included net public spending and mandatory private social spending. In fact, it includes voluntary private social expenditures as well. The U.S. has by far the highest voluntary social expenditures in the OECD, so if you subtract those out, the U.S. net public and mandatory private … Continue reading More on OECD Welfare States

The United States’ Big Welfare State

The United States has long had a larger welfare state than most other Western democracies. Surprised? You may not be aware of the new research on "net social spending." Net social spending includes not just government expenditures on social programs, but also tax credits for social purposes and, as a debit, government taxation of social … Continue reading The United States’ Big Welfare State

The War on Poverty, Continued

In the 1986 State of the Union address, Ronald Reagan proclaimed: "My friends, some years ago, the Federal Government declared war on poverty, and poverty won. …Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor … Continue reading The War on Poverty, Continued

Programs for the Poor are Poor Programs

Ezra Klein (Wonkblog) has a brief interview with Georgetown’s David Super on how poorly programs for the poor have functioned (and how good HealthCare.gov appears by comparison).  The alternatives discussed include outsourcing to private contractors (bad) and implicitly providing more resources (good).One alternative that is not discussed:  providing benefits through a fractional negative income tax … Continue reading Programs for the Poor are Poor Programs

Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

Roger Koppl argues this week at ThinkMarkets that “Income inequality matters.” He thinks it matters so much that he says it twice. He believes “Austrian,” pro-market, economic liberals should be speaking up more on this “central issue.” I think Koppl could not be more wrong. The issue deserves all the inattention we can muster for … Continue reading Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter