welfare economics

in some states if you work two jobs even if they’re both only 5 hours a week at minimum wage you don’t qualify for snap benefits [food card] because you have “multiple sources of income.” tell me again how these laws are meant to make sure only real poor people get benefits … 

The Volcanic Core Fueling the 2016 Election

Not a day passes that I don’t get a call from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans.

I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk.

But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.”

Yet these days, nothing of any significance is feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock.

This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system.

I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.

But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change.

The upcoming election isn’t about detailed policy proposals. It’s about power – whether those who have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

A study published in the fall of 2014 by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page reveals the scale of the challenge.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups, and average citizens.

Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.”

Instead, lawmakers respond to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

It’s sobering that Gilens and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002, before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in its “Citizens United” and “McCutcheon” decisions. Their study also predated the advent of super PACs and “dark money,” and even the Wall Street bailout.

If average Americans had a “near-zero” impact on public policy then, their impact is now zero.

Which explains a paradox I found a few months ago when I was on book tour in the nation’s heartland: I kept bumping into people who told me they were trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between Sanders and Trump.

At first I was dumbfounded. The two are at opposite ends of the political divide.  
But as I talked with these people, I kept hearing the same refrains. They wanted to end “crony capitalism.” They detested “corporate welfare,” such as the Wall Street bailout.

They wanted to prevent the big banks from extorting us ever again. Close tax loopholes for hedge-fund partners. Stop the drug companies and health insurers from ripping off American consumers. End trade treaties that sell out American workers. Get big money out of politics.

Somewhere in all this I came to see the volcanic core of what’s fueling this election.

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and who understand that the political-economic system is rigged against you and in favor of the rich and powerful, what are you going to do?

Either you’re going to be attracted to an authoritarian son-of-a-bitch who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you and creating “great” jobs in America, who sounds like he won’t let anything or anybody stand in his way, and who’s so rich he can’t be bought off.

Or you’ll go for a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for fifty years, who won’t take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots “political revolution” to regain control over our democracy and economy.

In other words, either a dictator who promises to bring power back to the people, or a movement leader who asks us to join together to bring power back to the people.

You don’t care about the details of proposed policies and programs.

You just want a system that works for you.

Market-based solutions are often far friendlier.

For more: http://www.libertarianism.org/media/around-web/daniel-shapiro-welfare-state

The Practical Choice: Not American Capitalism or "Welfare State Socialism" but an Economy That's Working for a Few or Many

For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism  is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is doomed.  

It was a questionable assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger portion of our economy was invested in education than before or since, over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized, we came up with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the biggest infrastructure project in history, known as the interstate highway system.

But then came America’s big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in education and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Canada and Europe continued on as before. Soviet communism went bust, and many of us assumed European and Canadian “socialism” would as well.

That’s why recent data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database  is so shocking.

The fact is, we’re falling behind. While median per capita income in the United States has stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern Europe. Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and their disposable income – after taxes – higher still.

It’s difficult to make exact comparisons of income across national borders because real purchasing power is hard to measure. But even if we assume Canadians and the citizens of several European nations have simply drawn even with the American middle class, they’re doing better in many other ways.

Most of them get free health care and subsidized child care. And if they lose their jobs, they get far more generous unemployment benefits than we do. (In fact, right now 75 percent of jobless Americans lack any unemployment benefits.)

If you think we make up for it by working less and getting paid more on an hourly basis, think again. There, at least three weeks paid vacation as the norm, along with paid sick leave, and paid parental leave.

We’re working an average of 4.6 percent more hours more than the typical Canadian worker, 21 percent more than the typical French worker, and a whopping 28 percent more than your typical German worker, according to data compiled by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

But at least Americans are more satisfied, aren’t we? Not really. According to opinion surveys and interviews, Canadians and Northern Europeans are.

They also live longer, their rate of infant mortality is lower, and women in these countries are far less likely to die as result of complications in pregnancy or childbirth.

But at least we’re the land of more equal opportunity, right? Wrong. Their poor kids have a better chance of getting ahead. While 42 percent of American kids born into poor families remain poor through their adult lives, only 30 percent of Britain’s poor kids remain impoverished – and even smaller percentages in other rich countries.

Yes, the American economy continues to grow faster than the economies of Canada and Europe. But faster growth hasn’t translated into higher living standards for most Americans.

Almost all our economic gains have been going to the top – into corporate profits and the stock market (more than a third of whose value is owned by the richest 1 percent). And into executive pay (European CEOs take home far less than their American counterparts).

America’s rich also pay much lower taxes than do the rich in Canada and Europe.

But surely Europe can’t go on like this. You hear it all the time: They can no longer afford their welfare state.

That depends on what’s meant by “welfare state.” If high-quality education is included, we’d do well to emulate them. Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries in literacy and numeracy. That spells trouble for the U.S. economy in the future.

They’re also doing more workforce training, and doing it better, than we are. The result is more skilled workers.  

Universal health care is another part of their “welfare state” that saves them money because healthier workers are more productive.

So let’s put ideology aside. The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state socialism.” It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top, or one that’s working for just about everyone. Which would you prefer?

Generous welfare benefits make people more likely to want work

Generous welfare benefit levels make people who are not in employment more likely to want to work rather than less, new research suggests. “Many scholars and commentators fear that generous social benefits threaten the sustainability of the welfare state due to work norm erosion, disincentives to work and dependency cultures,” the researchers say. “This article concludes that there are few signs that groups with traditionally weaker bonds to the labor market are less motivated to work if they live in generous and activating welfare states.”

(more at sciencedaily.com)

Americans are taught from moment one that we’re the Greatest Country in the History of Humanity™. We’re also taught that the reason we’re the Greatest Country in the History of Humanity™ is because anyone can make it here if they try. What being taught both of those things does is inexorably lead to the conclusion that those in poverty deserve their misery. Because they deserve their misery, it is therefore not just beyond our responsibility to provide a safety net for them, but providing them things like worker protections, paid sick leave, basic medical care, and above all fair pay is thus actively unethical. Give a man a fish and he’ll become an unending burden on the limited resources of the state. Teach a man to fish and you’ve placed the burden for his education on those who have no responsibility to help him — he should be able to figure out for himself how to fish, and if he can’t, well, that’s not our problem.
Here's How Much Raising The Minimum Wage Would Save The Federal Government

Here’s How Much Raising The Minimum Wage Would Save The Federal Government

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A study released by the Economic Policy Institute in mid-October shows that increasing the minimum wage from it’s current level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would save the federal government more than $7.6 billion dollars, per year.

It stands to reason that anyone who works full time should not have to live in poverty. And yet, a full time minimum wage worker who has only one child, falls…

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Collegiate “practice babies”: Changing ideas of parenting.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

Nils G. drew my attention to a fascinating now-abandoned America educational practice that nicely illustrates how ideas about ideal parenting shift over time.  Between 1919 and 1969, the Home Economics departments of about 50 colleges and universities served as foster homes for orphans. Writes Emily Anthes at Wonderland:

During this time, homemaking… was considered to be something that could be conquered by science. Running a home based on instinct was considered to be woefully old-fashioned; the idea that raising a child and maintaining a home could be optimized by following a set of scientific rules was gaining currency.

Accordingly, getting a degree in Home Economics included a labratory set up exactly like a home: “practice apartments.”  And what better to fill these homes with than “practice babies!”  Students would practice applying the latest science-endorsed parenting techniques on orphans.  An article published in the Journal of Home Economics in 1920, by Elizabeth Vermilye, explained the rotation of care:

Each girl, in rotation, carried the work of “baby manager” for one week… The “baby manager” assumed the entire responsibility for the care of the child during her period. She herself did the actual work of caring for him between the hours of 6.00 to 8.00 a.m. and from 4.30 to 6.00 p.m. During the day the child was in the care of three or four other students during the time they were not in class, the manager making the program for this care, giving instructions regarding food and other matters needing attention. The baby manager did the baby’s laundry work.

Far from being exploited, it was believed that these babies would get not just excellent, attentive care, but the best, most scientifically-valid care.  Vermilye claims that the examining physician was highly impressed with the children’s development during their stay with the students.  She quotes him saying, “The improvement in the condition of these children speaks highly for your cooperative motherhood.”

These pictures of orphan and practice baby Bobby Domecon (surnamed after his role in the Domestic Economics department) reveal his chubbification.

A skinny 6 pounds at 2 months old:

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Perking up at age 10 months:

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Nice and chubby 5 months later:

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Because these children were believed to be benefiting from the latest science of parenting, they were highly adoptable; many couples were eager to get their hands on a child that had such a good start in life (source).

Eventually, however, ideas about mothering began to change.  In particular, scholars began to talk about Attachment Disorder and argue that a child’s development required that it strongly bond to one unique person.  In 1954, a short Time magazine article on the subject included experts suggesting that the program was harmful.  Starting with the Superintendent of the Illinois State Child Welfare Division, the author writes:

“It is not a normal family setting,” said he. “There are just too many persons involved in the handling of that child.”  Heaven only knows, added the superintendent, how many neuroses little David might develop. Other officials seemed to agree. “Imagine.” cried Mrs. Babette Penner, director of the Women’s Services Division of United Charities, “what anxieties there are in a child who is given a bottle in twelve or more pairs of arms.”

The scientific consensus eventually changed and, as a result, by 1969, then, “practice babies” were a thing of the past.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Corporate Tax Cuts May Have Harmed Canada's Economy: Study
They should have worked. Maybe they could have worked. But they didn’t.

The chart below, from the Washington-based Tax Foundation, shows corporate tax rates have declined significantly in all regions of the world over the past decade.

While supporters of low-tax policies applaud this shift, critics call it a “race to the bottom,” expressing fears that if trends continue, consumers in countries all over the world will eventually be saddled with their economy’s entire tax burden.

So in other words, High tax, High investment economies work? Who would have thought.

Orthodox theoretical explanations of poverty have tended to imply that the poor are poor because they do not have what they need to be defined as not poor, for example, the ownership of, or access to, assets or the holding of certain values over others, rather than theorizing about the structural causes of poverty at a societal level. Put another way, studying poverty has become to some considerable extent about studying the poor at an individual (or household) level but that is not the same as studying poverty and structural causes at a societal level.
—  From Global Poverty by Andy Summer
Corporations have sizeable cash flows and access to credit markets, which gives them a cushion against adversity and added costs…[S]mall businesses often operate much closer to the margin and are acutely sensitive to policies that threaten to drive up costs.
—  William Galston at the Brookings Institution, explaining succinctly why—as I recently wrote—government interference in the marketplace benefits big business at the expense of smaller companies.