I'm trying to work on creating more click-bait-friendly titles. So we all know the whole Democrat ideology/Republican ideology. Traditionally, they can be thought of as a rope that pulls us in two different directions, checking and balancing along the way. Implicit in this is the idea that one works while the other doesn't.
Trump's budget for next year cuts down on the welfare safety net. This is GOOD for the GOP, bad for Dems. Political arguments ensue. Blah blah blah.
I'm sure most of you have already made up your minds about this, one way or another. Do me a favor, as you read along, note what points you react to favorably and unfavorably. I'd like to conduct a little experiment at the end.
Now, I don't know a lot about safety net usage, mainly because I don't hang out with un- or underemployed people at all really (that's not an elitist thing, just a fact), so I don't have direct observations as to how efficacious they are. All I know is that Dems like safety nets while the GOP is more about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and leaving the helping of those down and out to private organizations.
I've seen enough northern European countries to admire the strong safety net model, and I'd absolutely like to see it with respect to healthcare, but there's also no denying that there are people in the US riding the welfare train, often by having a lot of kids to pump up their numbers or, as our military is so famous for, making fake disability claims. Whether or not this is detestable is kind of irrelevant - the shit's out of the bull and we have to confront the fact that we have a system where people select this route as the best option. That's just a fact - it wouldn't exist otherwise.
What we want to do is incentivize work. GOP wants to make welfare less palatable to drive people to work. This is a reasonable strategy, but it has limitations. I get that an unskilled person might prefer to scrape by on government benefits rather than work for seven dollars an hour. Dems, on the other hand, want to fix that problem by raising the minimum wage. However, they want to maintain (or increase) welfare spending, dampening their incentive.
Why not do both? Cut fat from welfare programs and shift spending to NGOs that can be more discriminating AND raise the minimum wage. The net effect seems, to this guy, to only enhance the impetus to obtain gainful employment.
People respond to incentives.
Political recalcitrance to abandon a core of their platform, even at the expense of a bipartisan good. Unflexible ethics.
I floated a version of this idea to several colleagues. These are well-educated, generally reasonable people who skew fairly liberal. The idea was not well-received. Cutting social net spending was a deal-breaker - the group essentially shut down on reception of a compromise policy.
Perhaps they're right and throwing tax dollars at the problem is truly the way to go. But there are 14 million people on disability right now, and that number is rising steadily. That's one in six adults. There's a lot of evidence that disability is often faked - applications rise and fall directly with the unemployment rate, for example, and the highest rates are in the poorest states. Even if you reject that there are able-bodied individuals on the rolls, the increasing rate gives you pause: our society can handle only so many "free riders" (that is an economic term, not a pejorative) before we hit a crisis point.
So everyone agrees we need to do something, but we're at loggerheads over what to do. This is simple game theory. You have two equal populations that favor two separate options. Group One prefers option A and Group B prefers option B. Both dislike the other's option, but both agree that the current situation is untenable. The only options (barring the emergence of other politically viable choices) are:
(1) Institute Option A.
(2) Institute Option B.
(3) Institute both options.
(4) Do nothing.
I would have guessed the highest overall satisfaction levels are produced when you get something you want and someone else gets something they want. However, the reality may be the opposite - we are happiest when we don't get what we want but deny the opposite group something they want. This is our current political reality.
I'm aware this is examining only a small part of a larger issue. But given the fact we can fix what doesn't work (and, more importantly, leave alone what does work) it seems like it would be worth stepping out of the political echo chamber and giving it a shot. Instead, political recalcitrance in the form of a general unwillingness to try an unorthodox strategy, may ultimately be the greatest impairment we face.
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.