Saturday, December 20, 2014


It look as if our right-wing pals have the relationship between government aid and motivation to work exactly wrong:
It is a simple idea supported by both economic theory and most people's intuition: If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can get a check from the government for sitting around -- and if your choice to work means that much of your income will end up in the tax collectors’ coffers?

Here's the rub, though: The idea may be backward.

Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment.

... In short, more people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier, such as subsidized care for children and the old; generous sick leave policies; and cheap and accessible transportation.
Unfortunately, this won't change soon, because our system is rapidly losing interest in trying to do what's right for a broad range of citizens. We don't seem to want more people to work in America -- not if the rich people who run the economy are thriving while labor-force participation rates are lower. And conservative politicians, of course, actually benefit from being able to point to the unemployed while condemning their alleged shiftlessness.

What our fat cats really seem to want -- or at least the most politically active among them -- is for America to be a Third World country with a small-to-nonexistent safety net and a desperate, low-paid labor force. That fits Randian Republicans' view that laissez-faire equals freedom!, and also fits conservative Christians' view that economic inequality is God's plan, His way of sorting out the morally deserving and undeserving here on earth.

Meanwhile, we have a social safety net that seems almost ideally structured for right-wing sermons about the evils of safety nets in general: It's extensive (and expensive) enough to seem like horrible "socialism" to people who have no idea what socialism really is, and thus its failings, which are the result of inadequacy, can seem like failings resulting from excess generosity. And the safety net is unlikely to change until liberals or (more likely) conservatives achieve total dominance in our government. Until then, we're stuck at this level.


Anonymous said...

"Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries."

They are small countries absolutely packed with immigrants who are happy to work even for minimum wages because it's better than anything they would get at home!

Here in the UK we have begun to cut welfare payments to the unemployed and guess what? Employment is rising!

Victor said...

Ok, Duff, I'm calling you on that!

Please link to an article from a legitimate economist - and not some British version of a dumbass like Megan McArdle - that shows a link between cause and effect!

If it's true, that article should be easy to find.

Ten Bears said...

Actually make an effort? You crack me up Vic.

Reality is those making the most noise about it are the ones suckling the biggest goverment... ahhh... teat.

No fear. Contempt, but no fear.

Victor said...

Good point, Ten Bears.

He should change his moniker to 'bluffandnonsense."

Raymond Smith said...

Another sire with a TP?GOP conservative type post with Duff in the name. Please be advised all the conservatives pay people to push theur propaganda on sites They do not provide supporting links and do not handle questions. See anything that is off the script they just posted would require them to thnk on their own.

Raymond Smith said...

Sorry about the typo in the above post.

Anonymous said...

You're in danger of repeating yourself, Ray, you said the same thing over at Ron's place and I am eager, nay, trembling with excitement at the prospect of the GOP - or anyone, come to that - paying me! I don't suppose you could spare a few 'bob', could you?

As to my response to the main points, it's a quarter to midnight and way past my cocoa and bedtime but tomorrow, like that dreadful old general of yours, "I shall return"!

Roger said...

You know what else has a lot of holes in it?

A net.

Happy Holidays to you, Steve.

Dark Avenger said...

You're all bubbles and no beer, duff. Why don't you do some screen caps of old Andy Capp strips to prove your point as well?

Ten Bears said...

Did you read the headline, rog? You know, the one with the words "holes" and "net"?

This just about the funniest thread I've read all day. "All bubbles and no beer"...ROTFLMAO.

Anonymous said...

Right, er, 'Comrades', put down your primers on 'Venezuelan Economics 101' and pay attention.

I give you this article from the Left-wing sob paper, The Guardian, which has maintained a ferocious campaign against the government's cuts and tightening up of benefit regulations. You will be shocked, I tell you, shocked, so please do have some tissues handy.

But then again, there is this from the independent ONS (Office of National Statistics) published in September:

"•Comparing the estimates for May to July 2014 with those for February to April 2014, employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes continue the general direction of movement since late 2011/early 2012.
•There were 30.61 million people in work. This was 74,000 more than for February to April 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since April to June 2013. Comparing May to July 2014 with a year earlier, there were 774,000 more people in work.
•The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, slightly higher than for February to April 2014 (72.9%) and higher than for a year earlier (71.6%).
•There were 2.02 million unemployed people, 146,000 fewer than for February to April 2014 and 468,000 fewer than a year earlier. This is the largest annual fall in unemployment since 1988.
•The unemployment rate continued to fall, reaching 6.2% for May to July 2014, the lowest since late 2008. The unemployment rate is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who were unemployed.
•There were 8.93 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 114,000 more than for February to April 2014 but 31,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
•The economic inactivity rate was 22.1%, higher than for February to April 2014 (21.8%) but lower than for a year earlier (22.3%).
•Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 0.6% higher than a year earlier. Pay excluding bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 0.7% higher than a year earlier."

May I add, that the government, far from increasing taxes to high earners, actually cut them - SHLOCK-HORROR! The result is that after four years when the Labour party, your equivalent of the Dems, squealed about recession and poverty, the British economy is now far and away the healthiest in Europe and that includes Germany!

Finally, I know that 'over there' you have considerable difficulty in looking beyond your own Town/County/State let alone looking over oceans at what is going on elsewhere but do try checking on 'La not-so-Belle France' where a fully-fledged socialist president has rammed home huge tax rises on the rich and on companies and corporations whilst simultaneously handing out benefits to one and all. The result, France is now an economic basket case and is set shortly to break the rules imposed when the EU poured in some money to try and help it.

Still, it's an ill wind that doesn't blow a protester's banner into the local sewage works, so London house prices have shot up as tens of thousands of French people, some wealthy and old, others young but desperate for work, have flooded into London. (They have now shot up even further because the place is packed with Russians carrying heavy suitcases!)

Ok, that's enough from me so why don't you all read Obama's book "How Castro Made the Cuban Economy Great"!

By the way, feel free to use my first name -David.

Anonymous said...

What?! No comment then, Dark Avenger? Swallowed too much "bubbles and beer"?

Professor Fate said...

ah duff you haven't proven anything re linking the budget cuts to the better news on the economy - correlation is of course not causation.
Even Keynes did say in the long run and it's been a long run things would start to get better - which they have. And most of these spanking new jobs are as in the US service jobs which don't pay that well.

Dark Avenger said...

Still bubbles and no beer, duff.

If anything, the recent austerity France went through is worse for an economy than an expanded social safety net.

But, then were would be be without your simplistic Tory analysis of why the poor should remain poor?

Thanks for demonstrating what J.S. Mill said about stupid people and conservatives.

Ten Bears said...

Linking to the Gaurdian is on par with linking to the Wall Street Journal. Fascist propaganda outlets are not credible sources.

A few freedom fries short of a happy meal.

Dark Avenger said...

Like a blind pig, sometimes they can find an acorn of truth when it comes to America:

Consider Grovum’s findings:

For people of all ages, the official poverty rate in the US was 14.5%. That’s equivalent to 45.3 million people.
Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.10% – another 8 million Americans would be living in poverty.
Without social security, the poverty rate for Americans 65 and older would be 52.67% instead of the current 14.6%.
Without tax credits like the federal earned income tax credit, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8% instead of the official poverty rate of 19.9%.
These numbers are important. US lawmakers have long struggled to show exactly how and where certain types of government assistance are helping Americans stay out of poverty.

From the same periodical:

Britain is on the brink of becoming a nation permanently divided between rich and poor, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in its second annual state of the nation report.

The 335-page document is likely to be a reference point against which the government’s anti-poverty record will be judged, and to feature strongly in opposition party manifestos for the 2015 general election.

The report says all three main Westminster political parties are lamentably failing to be frank with the electorate about the fact there is no chance of meeting the government’s statutory child poverty target by 2020.

It also predicts that 2010-2020 will be the first decade since records began that saw a rise in absolute poverty – defined as a household in which income is below 60% of median earnings. A rise from 2.6 million households in absolute poverty to 3.5 million is now expected.

I would buy futures in molten lead if I were you, duff.

"Britons never, never, never
Shall be slaves!"