AEIdeas

The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

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Discussion: (73 comments)

  1. SeattleSam

    People respond to actual incentives, not your intentions. Liberals have a hard time understanding this. They seem perfectly willing to believe that people will change behavior if they tax cigarettes or gasoline, but not if they tax income producing activities. And they are still in shock that the 1996 welfare reform resulted in single women getting jobs.

    I still remember vividly a 1972 series in the Chicago Tribune about the Cabrini Greens housing projects. The reporter interviewed a 12 year old girl as to her dreams for the future, She replied, “To get pregnant. So I can get my own apartment like my sister did.”

    1. le bron james mother was 15 when she conceived him…when he got the big signing bonus & bought his mother a mansion, teen pregnancy rates in some akron & canton schools spiked to over 30%

  2. Funny thing is conservatives were making the very same point back in ’64 & ’65 when LBJ and the Democrats were pushing the National Buy a Vote programs (a.k.a. Great Society programs) and were castigated in the media for doing so…

  3. I left my entitlement worshiping bleeding heart in my other pants. (sarcasm!)

  4. Max Planck

    This is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

    “The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

    Six, two and even these people vote Republican every time. The Appalachians have been a sewer of poverty since time immemorial.

    1. Six, two and even these people vote Republican every time. The Appalachians have been a sewer of poverty since time immemorial“…

      Well maxie boy if its as terrible as you claim why don’t YOU spread YOUR largesse around and quit being a whining hypocrite?

    2. MacDaddyWatch

      Not nearly as bad as millions of bIack single moms from Detroit, S. Philly or Watts–100% of whom always vote Democrat–have 9 kids with unidentified fathers. These reckless breeders, whose offspring are their meal ticket, remain on welfare and entitlements until their last breaths.

    3. Che is dead

      Take a road trip to West Virginia, it’s nearly impossible to travel through the state without driving on a highway or thoroughfare named in honor of life-long Democrat and former Grand Kleagle of the KKK, Richard Byrd.

      West Virginia currently has two Democrat senators – Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller.

      As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      1. Bingo!

        lol‘…

      2. W Va also has a Democrat Governor.

  5. Bob Wright

    Here is a clearly identified problem.

    Rather than arguing about politics, pointing fingers and assigning blame, we should be discussing solutions.

    Illiteracy is a problem in rural and urban communities.
    Approximately 35% of the residents in Flint Michigan are functionally illiterate.

    Illiteracy feeds poverty, dependence, and crime.

    Fix the problem.

    1. re: ” Illiteracy feeds poverty, dependence, and crime.”

      I’m not convinced the basic assertion is true – nationwide.

      it sounds more anecdotal than substantiative and I’d like to see some more evidence beyond some quotes.

      For instance, is it true that the ONLY criteria for the SSI check is “intelligence”?

      how about something that backs that up before we jump to conclusions here?

      this is tiresome and tedious – the constant drumbeat of stuff that is more myth than truth.. but it seems to live on in the minds of those who so want to believe it.

      check the map – and show me some the policy that limits the checks to ONLY this criteria and then let’s look at the literacy levels in the states on the map that show where SSI use is heavier.

      1. For instance, is it true that the ONLY criteria for the SSI check is “intelligence”?

        You’re the SS expert, for god’s sake, tell us what SSI is for!

        Illiteracy in the US is a non problem. the CIA World Factbook shows literacy in the US to be 99%. That means there are roughly 3 million people in the US who aren’t literate. How many of those do you suppose are Spanish speaking immigrants?

        There are pockets of illiteracy, including Detroit, perhaps other depressed inner cities, which are in part a result of the government school system in those areas.

        The solution to the Breathitt County problem, at least, seems pretty obvious. Rather than providing illiterate children with a $698 check each month, provide them with $698 of in-home tutoring in reading. I suspect that in a short time, illiteracy would cease to be a problem in the region.

        While it’s tragic that parents would sell their children’s futures so cheaply, this is not a problem of such epidemic proportions that it requires billions in federal taxpayers dollars be poured into the region to solve.

        1. ” “For instance, is it true that the ONLY criteria for the SSI check is “intelligence”?”

          You’re the SS expert, for god’s sake, tell us what SSI is for!”

          well no I’m not but neither is the guy who wrote the article because even a cursory look at the SSI rules shows some substantial criteria for qualification – way more than what the guy in the article was saying.

          Then of course we know that SSI is a nationwide program and there appears to be little evidence that the type of thing he was implying with his anecdotal story happens nationally in every state.

          In short.. this does not appear to be anything more than a “local story” related by local folks and apparently no one from SSI and no real evidence to back up what was being implied.

          In other words, it sounds much like other AEI “hit pieces” that cherry-pick something and try to make it sound plausible but even a cursory look at what they did not even touch seems to yield contradictory information.

          When you engage in this kind of thing – it starts to sound like you have an agenda and you are basically dredging up carefully worded, but often unfounded and unsubstantiated tomes to “prove” your point – in other words – propaganda, misinformation, disinformation to support your core agenda.

          1. read this: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10026.html#a0=0

            and ask yourself how with all of those rules for all kinds of disabilities could be corrupted at the local level to have a pattern of all kids being categorized as having a disability because they are not literate …. and apparently this problem is confined to Appalachia and not a nationwide pattern.

            it’s not passing the smell test as many of the articles like this fail to do upon further reading beyond the article itself.

            I’m finding that this kind of thing is a pretty common thing with some of the articles written by AEI “scholars” or AEI reporting of articles they “like”.

            so pretty much now when I read stuff like this from them – I look for independent verification and evidence of what they are saying and you know what? there is a pattern at AEI on this kind of stuff!

          2. As he often does, Larry zooms in on the one sentence in a comment that didn’t require a response.

          3. In other words, it sounds much like other AEI “hit pieces” that cherry-pick something and try to make it sound plausible but even a cursory look at what they did not even touch seems to yield contradictory information.

            Newsflash: That is an op-ed piece in the New York Times. You are disparaging your host, the blog owner, for his choice of material that he believes might be of interest to his readers.

            If you were a serious person you would provide references to opposing views or to information refuting the op-ed piece, and explain why you think the author is wrong.

    2. Bob, I think you completely missed the point.

      You cannot fix illiteracy while government continues to provide strong incentive to remain illiterate.

      1. re: ” You cannot fix illiteracy while government continues to provide strong incentive to remain illiterate”

        if it were actually true – you could show it to be systemic on a nationwide basis with actual evidence instead of localized anecdotal “evidence”.

        1. Of course you must be correct, genius. There are no incentives, it’s just them dumb parents in Appalachia hate their kids. What was I thinking!?

  6. Here’s a map. Do people believe the “literacy” argument applies to this entire map?

    http://www.pamallison.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/OASDI-by-County.jpg

    1. Bob Wright

      Larry, your chart shows people receiving Social Security retirement benefits and Supplemental Security Income disability payments – according the the Pam Allison blog post you reference.

      I would assume that illiteracy has nothing to do with people receiving retirement benefits.

      How would you go about addressing (dare I say solving) illiteracy in the U.S.?

      I believe the U.S. has a real problem when there is a segment of the population that would rather receive government benefits than get an education in order to put their foot on the first rung of the economic ladder.

      Approximately 35% of people in Flint, MI are functionally illiterate. This is a problem.

      Flint public schools have had 100 years to figure out how to educate Flint children. Apparently public schools can’t educate children or many Flint children don’t want to be educated.

      This isn’t complicated.

      The U.S. government shouldn’t be helping people who won’t help themselves – when they are physically capable of helping themselves.

      You want to pull your children out of a literacy program, fine, that is your prerogative. But the government checks stop when you do.

      1. re: my map… my bad… let me see if I can find an SSI only map.

        re: ” This isn’t complicated.

        The U.S. government shouldn’t be helping people who won’t help themselves – when they are physically capable of helping themselves.”

        I agree.

        “You want to pull your children out of a literacy program, fine, that is your prerogative. But the government checks stop when you do.”

        I’m not convinced the assertion is entirely true on two fronts. 1. – that the program has only one criteria “intelligence” and 2 – that literacy and irresponsible parents is true – nationwide as a pattern.

        this might be a better map:
        http://www.pamallison.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/SSI-by-County.jpg

        of course the people that wrote this could have provided a nationwide map to back up their assertions conclusively – if it were actually true that is.

        My point is that we don’t solve problems by lying about them.

        we have to identify the problems honestly and precisely as a first step.

        1. Larry,

          “My point is that we don’t solve problems by lying about them.
          we have to identify the problems honestly and precisely as a first step.”

          Good advice. You should try it sometime instead of spewing non-stop falsehoods.

          1. Paul

            Good advice. You should try it sometime instead of spewing non-stop falsehoods.

            High-five!!

          2. We need a “like” button around here.

        2. Bob Wright

          “The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County

          Larry, are you asserting that this gentlemen is lying?
          Is the author lying?
          Who is lying?

          If it is not a lie, rather than getting side tracked on whether this is a national problem or not, how about a substantive idea on how to solve the problem in Breathitt County, KY.

          How about a solution to the 35% illiteracy in Flint, MI.

          Why don’t we start there. Solve one or two problems and then move on.

          1. re: ” Larry, are you asserting that this gentlemen is lying?”

            I’m saying it’s heavy on the anecdotal and light on actual data especially on a nation-wide basis.

            and when I see things like this – knowing the habits of AEI and folks who tend to be hard over on the spectrum – I like to see a little more evidence.

            if you look at the SSI program for kids – you’ll see that there are a series of criteria for qualification and although it might be possible to thread the needle just on the issue expounded on here.. it’s looks a little sketchy as an overall pattern.

            here, take a read: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10026.html#a0=0

          2. Bob Wright

            How about a solution to the 35% illiteracy in Flint, MI.

            School choice. Vouchers.

          3. Larry writes regarding the op-ed piece:

            I’m saying it’s heavy on the anecdotal and light on actual data especially on a nation-wide basis.

            That’s correct because – get this: It’s an op-ed piece (that means opinion) written by a Liberal op-ed writer in the liberal NYT.

            It is intended to tug at your leftist heartstrings, and perhaps encourage you to call your Representative and demand that he DO SOMETHING about this problem by spending other people’s money.

            If you are interested in scholarly work, or even something of substance, you will need to look elsewhere.

          4. The point your host is making, Larry, as you appear to have missed it, is that well-intentioned government programs can create perverse incentives. That NYT op-ed piece is an example of what can happen.

    2. Citizen B.

      Larry, please explain the relation of your social security map link to “literacy”.

      1. @citizenB – wrong map, my bad, have supplied a different one.

        re: “disabilities:

        here are some facts:

        http://ruralinstitute.umt.edu/publications/RFS_SSIBenefits&Children.asp

        I’ve looked through it and cannot find the criteria that is said to be used by parents to receive checks.

        perhaps others might.

        1. Citizen B.

          Larry, have you posted this second link because it informs us that children can receive their own social security benefits?

          I did not know that children can recieve Social Security Disability not associated with a parent or guardian.

          1. re: ” it informs us that children can receive their own social security benefits?

            I did not know that children can recieve Social Security Disability not associated with a parent or guardian.”

            did you read the linked article?

        2. Bob Wright

          Larry, a lot more people than parents with disabled, minor children receive SSDI.

          All this map shows is that lots of people all over the country are receiving SSDI payments – legitimately or otherwise.

          1. I think SSI is different from SSDI. and yes.. I’m not totally convinced that this is much more than a local anecdotal opinion and not much more than that.

          2. Bob Wright

            So what if it’s only local.
            It’s a problem in Breathitt County, KY.

            How would you address the problem there?

          3. re: ” How would you address the problem there?”

            I’d have to better understand what is being done to exploit a loophole – there – and not nationwide.

          4. Bob

            So what if it’s only local.
            It’s a problem in Breathitt County, KY.

            How would you address the problem there?

            Which problem do you want addressed, illiteracy in Breathitt County? Welfare fraud in Breathitt County? Poverty in Breathitt county?

            As I mentioned in another comment, the first two could almost certainly be cured quickly by providing illiterate children in the county with $700 of in-home tutoring in reading every month instead of a check.

            I’m not sure there’s anything we can or should do about poverty in Breathitt County, Would you considering opening a business in the area? Some good paying jobs might help.

            I can tell you one thing, though, it sounds like a local problem that should be addressed locally. I sure don’t want the federal government taking my money to spend there, considering the incredibly perverse incentives they have already created.

  7. The NYTimes? Admitting Conservatives have a point about how safety nets can perpetuate poverty?

    I just realized that Hell Froze Over.

    1. Not yet, Krishnan.

      I’ve heard plenty of progressives admit all kinds of progressive stuff doesn’t work and then declare that nothing should change. Hell will freeze over when they grow a brain. Now, THAT will be something to see.

      1. I don’t think you can tell when a progressive grows a brain, because then they are no longer progressives.

        I can’t take credit for that, but neither do I know who did say something to that effect about liberals.

        1. This is a very good point, Ron H. You basically have to have data from before they grew a brain. Yet, I did just host for Christmas a former progressive who abandoned his views when he learned some elementary economics many moons ago now. And Dierdre McCloskey as well as Thomas Sowell used to be Marxists. It can happen, it’s just rare.

          1. Methinks

            Yet, I did just host for Christmas a former progressive who abandoned his views when he learned some elementary economics many moons ago now.

            You know, it’s strange, but it is seems like sometimes that’s all it takes. Just a little basic economics and maybe a dash of common sense.

            “<i.And Dierdre McCloskey as well as Thomas Sowell used to be Marxists. It can happen, it’s just rare.”

            And they are now VERY smart people. Maybe they have brains that just need to be switched on, or something.

            I also read somewhere that Hayek was a socialist until he read Mises. That economics is mighty powerful stuff.

          2. I also read somewhere that Hayek was a socialist until he read Mises. That economics is mighty powerful stuff“…

            Interesting ron h because I’d also heard the samething from someone regarding Hayek…

            In fact at Cafe Hayek Don Boudreaux had a Hayek quote…

            Don’t the following words sound like someone who’s been to the ‘darkside‘, seen it for what it is and came back?

            The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word liberty. It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere. Indeed it could almost be said-and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old-that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people“…
            Road to Serfdom – page 162

        2. juandos

          The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word liberty…”

          Great quote from a great book.

          1. Great quote from a great book“…

            Yeah ron h it is indeed a great book…

            I wonder if some of the folks here would find it easier to digest the comic book version?

          2. I wonder if some of the folks here would find it easier to digest the comic book version?

            That’s neat, but I seem to remember more detail in the book. :)

          3. That’s neat, but I seem to remember more detail in the book“…

            Ahhh, true ron h but one mustn’t scare the children…

            It’ll put them right off their feed…

  8. Dan Ferris

    I can’t believe there are still people who think there’s a meaningful difference between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. What liberals do for poor people, Republicans do for corporations. It’s all absurd and wrong-headed.

  9. Benjamin Cole

    Agreed.

    Of course, the plan of every “lifer” in the US military is to get a pension at taxpayer expense, a huge disincentive to working after “retirement” at age 45 or so. It is federally encouraged sloth.

    Surely, there should be incentives for middle-aged men to keep working—such as elimination of any federal pension before age 65.

    1. Of course, the plan of every “lifer” in the US military is to get a pension at taxpayer expense, a huge disincentive to working after “retirement” at age 45 or so. It is federally encouraged sloth.

      Give it a rest, bunny.

    2. Good point there, Bunny. You know what we need to do? We need to torture the yield curve and print so much money that nobody can stop toiling until they drop dead in the mines.

      1. I thought that was already happening. Is there more to come?

        1. Fasten your seat-belt.

        2. As for printing money…..it’s not happening quite the way it has in the past. Basically, what the Fed is printing it’s directing to banks and other big cronies. In the past, the Fed has just throttled the interest rate and the money went where it went. Misallocation certainly resulted, but this time the Fed has taken charge of misallocating funds itself instead of letting the market do it. In other words, we have central planning of credit and inflation is muted.

          Of course, the political class has borrowed a lot of money to buy votes and since it’s impossible to motivate the peasants to pay off their debts, they’ll just default on the bonds by printing money and impoverishing the peasants that way.

          1. re: ” That’s correct because – get this: It’s an op-ed piece (that means opinion) written by a Liberal op-ed writer in the liberal NYT.”

            you think he is a “liberal”. ;-)

            I do not care if someone is a liberal or a conservative or libertarian or an idiot – if they write something that has false pretenses by attempting to look at something in isolation on an anecdotal basis and claim that it “proves” some bigger claim about a program in general – it’s wrong and AEI and Perry often seem to gravitate towards than kind of “journalism”.

            A cursory look at the SSI qualifications for kids will tell you that unless someone at the local level is interpreting the rules in a very different way that the ones you can view for yourself – that something else is going on – because there is virtually no real evidence presented to substantiate what is claimed and the entire purpose of this piece is like many here – to find an angle to attack govt programs that help the needy.

            nothing more. same old dishonest drivel.

  10. What cruel irony:

    From Kristof’s article: ““When kids come to us through this program and come here, we can see a big difference,” Ron Combs, the principal at Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School here, told me. “They’re really ready to go. Otherwise, we have kids so far behind that they struggle to catch up.

    Those folks have named an elementary school after the very person who created the programs that are helping keep them in poverty.

    1. Those folks have named an elementary school after the very person who created the programs that are helping keep them in poverty“…

      Ahhh, the irony of liberal/leftist thinking such as it is ron h

      I’m thinking such governance has lead us to this: Presenting the decline of the West in two easy infographics

      The infographics linked to the story ron h, in this case a picture is worth many thousands of words…

  11. This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

    The problem is that both conservatives and liberals support programs that create dependents because both are statist to the core. The liberals, mostly Democrats, seek to make the poor dependent on government because of the number of votes that they think that they can get as they try to remain in power. The conservatives, mostly Republicans, want to keep large segments of corporate America dependent as they seek the contributions that they need to pay for the propaganda that is necessary to win modern elections. Both sides want to make the productive classes pay for their social and corporate welfare programs.

    This will all end once the government runs out of money and the bond markets are no longer there to provide cover. At that time people and corporations will have to learn to stand and deal with reality on their own.

    1. The problem is that both conservatives and liberals support programs that create dependents because both are statist to the core“…

      OK show me a real conservative is a statist…

      1. juandos

        OK show me a real conservative is a statist…

        How about here?

        1. I know that’s not a dependency issue, it’s just the first thing that came to mind. An example of using the power of the state to control others.

          1. An example of using the power of the state to control others“…

            Well that’s the thing isn’t ron h, its not the federal government’s job to mandate gay marriage or whatever its called, its a state by state issue in this federal republic, right?

          2. juandos

            Well that’s the thing isn’t ron h, its not the federal government’s job to mandate gay marriage or whatever its called, its a state by state issue in this federal republic, right?

            In my view, a personal relationship of any kind is entirely the business of the individuals involved. Freedom of association and all that. It’s not a government issue at any level. Gay marriage should be neither legal no illegal.

            Why should I need permission from the state – a license – to get married?

            My point was that some conservatives will use the power of the state to ban gay marriages. Something they would condemn libtards for doing on other issues.

          3. if the State and Fed govt actually treated individuals and “couples” the same way in terms of taxes and property laws, then there would be a non-discriminatory framework and there would be no political and legal issues.

            What same sex couples are looking for is equal treatment in laws, nothing more. That’s why there are court cases.

          4. In my view, a personal relationship of any kind is entirely the business of the individuals involved. Freedom of association and all that. It’s not a government issue at any level. Gay marriage should be neither legal no illegal“…

            I hate to disagree with you here ron h but in one practical sense you’re wrong…

            The ‘legal status‘ of one’s partner comes up all the time with regards to insurance both health and life, wills. property ownership, etc…

            My point was that some conservatives will use the power of the state to ban gay marriages. Something they would condemn libtards for doing on other issues“…

            You mean like Roe v Wade or are you talking about legislation resulting from choices of candidates made at the ballot box?

          5. they not only will ban gay marriages if they can but they will also deny them equal treatment on taxes, property rights and other legal issues like next-of-kin for life events.

          6. they not only will ban gay marriages if they can but they will also deny them equal treatment on taxes, property rights and other legal issues like next-of-kin for life events“…

            Yet another pithily stupid larryism

          7. I hate to disagree with you here ron h but in one practical sense you’re wrong…

            The ‘legal status‘ of one’s partner comes up all the time with regards to insurance both health and life, wills. property ownership, etc…

            Well yes, the “legal status” comes up all the time because the state has inserted itself into personal relationships. and insists on defining them.

            The “state” (government at any level) gives me permission to marry by requiring a license. Based on that state-defined contract as “marriage”, people have certain legal claims on each other – also defined by the state.

            Two or more people could just as easily bind themselves to the same legal claims, or other claims of their own choosing through a standard contract without permission from the state.

            Marriage or any other intimate relationship people wish to commit themselves to, is not a matter for state consideration, IMHO.

            You mean like Roe v Wade or are you talking about legislation resulting from choices of candidates made at the ballot box?

            I think all legislation results from choices made at the ballot box. :)

            Actually Roe vs Wade invalidated a lot of legislation that interfered with a person’s right to own themselves and make decisions about their own body. So far as it reduced state limits on our freedoms, I favor it, although I’m not “in favor of ” abortion.

            Although I believe a woman – or anyone else for that matter – has a right to make their own choices about their bodies, an abortion isn’t a “right”, as such, as there’s no guarantee someone else will be willing to perform one. Rights are negative.

            An example of libtard legislation would be the NLRA, which forces workers to pay for union services they don’t want – except in states that have invalidated that requirement with RTW legislation.

            Basically I’m against forcing otherwise peaceful people, who aren’t directly harming anyone else, to do or not do things against their will, and I’m especially against forcing them to pay for it, so I favor anything that reduces government power.

            The less government interference in our lives the better, in my view.

            “That government is best that governs least”
            T. Jefferson

          8. ” Two or more people could just as easily bind themselves to the same legal claims, or other claims of their own choosing through a standard contract without permission from the state.”

            and it still will not be as equitably recognized in law, tax policies, and property rights as “defined” marriage.

          9. Well yes, the “legal status” comes up all the time because the state has inserted itself into personal relationships. and insists on defining them“…

            Actually ron h doesn’t the state come in second?

            I ‘think‘ first comes the insurance company, bank, or whatever denies the claim or whatever it is of the surviving spouse and then a lawsuit ensues…

            Sooner or later legislation end up appearing to covver the situation whether its needed or not…

            Marriage or any other intimate relationship people wish to commit themselves to, is not a matter for state consideration, IMHO“…

            No argument here…

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