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Tag Archives: Poverty

Who is hurt most by inflation?

Tyler Cowen has a new Bloomberg column that starts off as follows: With inflation now rising faster than at any time in the last four decades, economists are debating which group suffers more from inflation, the poor or the rich. This kind of economy-wide question is not easy to answer, especially when rates of inflation have been so low in recent times and hard data are scarce. Nor is it obvious how exactly to compare the losses to the poor to the losses to...

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Benjamin Franklin: Government Welfare Is Not “Doing Good to the Poor”

The federal government lacks any legitimate constitutional authority to establish welfare programs for the poor. Not only that, the federal welfare system fails in its promise to “help the poor” out of poverty.Supporters of the expansive federal welfare system argue the “general welfare clause” authorizes them. But the general welfare clause is not a blank check. It does not grant blanket authority for the federal government to do anything it decides in its infinite wisdom is for the...

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Eh, what’s happening?

Suppose that like Rip van Winkle you fell asleep in 1997 and woke up in 2017. You asked a friend for a quick summary of what had occurred over the previous 20 years. A complete explanation would obviously take a long time, but this graph (tweeted by Max Roser) provides a very elegant summary of how the world has been progressing: A few comments: 1. In principle, everyone over the age of 24 lies somewhere along each of those three lines.  You might visualize most...

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What the Success Sequence Means

[continued from yesterday] …This is a strange state of affairs.  Everyone – even the original researchers – insists that the success sequence sheds little or no light on who to blame for poverty.  And since I’m writing a book called Poverty: Who To Blame, I beg to differ. Consider this hypothetical.  Suppose the success sequence discovered that people could only reliably avoid poverty by finishing a Ph.D. in engineering, working 80 hours a week, and practicing...

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The Invisible Order of the Black Family: Some Observations on Carol Stack’s All Our Kin

Part I: The Household, The Family, and the State Carol Stack’s All Our Kin is a classic ethnography from the early 1970s. The context for the book was the Moynihan Report on the state of the Black family produced by the U.S. government in 1965. The report’s conclusion was that the Black family was dysfunctional and in disarray. Stack and others explored the validity of that conclusion and examined the question of whether the official data used in the report had...

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Collective Guilt for Everyone for Everything

Here’s an excerpt from my book-in-progress, Poverty: Who To Blame. After “Don’t blame the victim,” the second-most obvious maxim for blame is, “Only blame the perpetrators.”  Precisely who, though, are the “perpetrators”?  Another deep criticism of my approach is that I blame too narrowly.  Instead of concentrating blame on specific wrong-doers, we should blame large swaths of society – or even whole countries.  To my ears, this echoes a blood-curdling passage from...

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Kurt Vonnegut and The Idle Rich

Final in a #ReadWithMe Series Read the first two parts here and here. The second half of the book takes us to the Rhode Island Rosewaters, who were swindled out of their fortune by a cunning ancestor of their Indiana cousins.  Although Fred Rosewater is an Ivy League graduate, he doesn’t get to slurp from the Money River; his disappointed wife “married Fred because she thought everybody who lived in Pisquontuit and had been to Princeton was rich” (155).  She...

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Economic Voices: A Reading List

A little while ago, I mentioned on Econlog that I have a history of fascination with economic thinking as expressed in non economic works–and particularly with the economic thinking of people who are in the daily grit of working blue collar jobs and doing household work. I think their diaries and letters and interviews and books of advice tell us at least as much about the economic circumstances under which they were written as do articles by economists–probably...

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Realistic Reforming: Micheal Tanner’s Inclusive Economy, Part 2

Editor’s note: The first part of this review of Michael Tanner’s The Inclusive Economy appeared earlier at Econlog. The reviewer noted that “Tanner’s deep familiarity with the literature truly shines in his chapters on the policy program he recommends. After laying out the failure of redistributive policies, Tanner suggests criminal justice reform and ending the war on drugs; education choice; elimination of zoning and land-use regulation and reduction of property...

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Institutional Injustice: Michael Tanner’s Inclusive Economy

We’re not living in a political moment that encourages much nuance or subtlety. And more than ever, one’s compatriots vilify any concession to one’s ideological opponents as aiding and abetting the enemy. A tour through America’s abject failure to effectively address intergenerational poverty – the hollowed out, addiction-addled rural towns; the violent chaos of the inner-cities; the failing schools; and an imprisoned generation – drowns out such hyper-partisan...

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