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Tag Archives: Poverty

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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Famous Economist on Immigration as a Way to Reduce Poverty

OVER THE LAST two centuries the individuals seeking escape from the equilibrium of poverty–rejecting accommodation–have had one remarkably certain recourse. For most of those who have attempted it, it has served well. For their children even better. It has only rarely required any active effort on the part of governments. More often it has needed only their acquiescence and, most often, in recent times, only their nonvigilance. It has placed no strain on the capacity...

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My Hayek Memorial Lecture

Though I’m not a big fan of Hayek, the UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs asked me to deliver the 2019 Hayek Memorial Lecture.  It’s a preview of my book-in-progress, Poverty: Who To Blame.  It’s also an attempt to get people to pay comparable attention to all three parts of my book.  At least until my IEA talk, almost all critics focused entirely on book’s final third, when I explore the extent to which the poor are to blame for their own poverty.  So I rewrote...

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Compared to what?

This graph caught my eye: Notice that prior to 1980, the number of affluent people was growing rapidly, but the number of poor people was also increasing. After 1980, the number of affluent people rose even more rapidly, while poverty began declining.  I was in grad school in 1980, and I don’t recall very many people expecting such a dramatic turnaround in the number of poor people.  Many experts were predicting a global catastrophe, due to rapid population growth in...

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