We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility, and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.
I get the point, but I disagree. Just as with those who inherit a living, some would rise to the challenge and some would not bother. Being poor and in the chronically-dependent class does not always mean lacking in character, pride, and intelligence resources (although it clearly often does). Nobody in America today is as poor as Abe Lincoln was.
I agree that it's a choice. But there is also the issue of institutionalized behaviors. Providing a 'nanny state' solution doesn't 'make' somebody lack in pride, character or intelligence. But over several generations, behaviors begin to be seen as a 'norm', causing them to become more widespread.
The ghettos of today were not 'caused' by the welfare state. They were extended by the welfare state, though. In the past, communities were often forced to improve themselves simply because they got so very bad that outside influences (investors, etc.) stepped in and bought up the property to improve it or the communities themselves cracked down and literally bootstapped their way back up.
Bootstrapping used to be a very real thing, where community leaders either went out and attracted, or invested on their own, to build a region.
Today, everyone sits around and waits for the government to step in, forgetting that the government is already there, just in a different form and function. Sadly, I don't believe the government can perform both (or either) function effectively.
No parent would want this for their children. No one would want this for someone they cared about. It is and always has been about capturing a voting block. End allwelfare and replace with workfare. Work 40 hours a week in a public service and get paid minimum wage subject to the same taxes and withholdings as everyone else.
I agree that being a resident of the welfare state does not necessarily mean you will "lacking in character, pride, or intelligence" as TNJ says but it dampens the motivation to build on that character, pride, and intelligence.
It's not quite as simple as welfare recipients are disincentivized to lie work and stay dependent because the way it's structured, it requires a VERY motivated person to get a job that then makes you ineligible for welfare and thus the end result is a "pay cut". How many would work and get less?
But the difference between those on welfare and someone who is a ne're do well who has inherited his money is that at least while his money lasts, the rest of us don't have to pay for the ne're do well's sloth twice (once for what he could produce but does not and once for his upkeep) whereas the welfare recipient does not produce anything and we pay him for that privilege.
All this doesn't even mention the secondary and tertiary effects such as distortions in the political system (read vote buying), resentment among those who pay, the decline in charitable giving, and the replacement of fathers with the government. The last one helps perpetuate the system.
I raise the complaint again that none of this essay nor these comments accounts for genetics - entirely because we want some other narrative to be true, not because there is any evidence for our narrative.
There is simply nothing in the environmental realm short of physical problem - lead paint, head injury, severe malnutrition - that shows more than a little correlation with adult success when genetic factors are separated out. Genetics, OTOH, hold up as a major influence across widely varying environments.
If you want to disagree, show the numbers.
Assistant Village Idiot
The quote says nothing about poverty or money at all.
Lincoln was poor, but he was not exempt from the requirements of civilization.
He had to work, maintain behavioral standards, was taught and cultivated personal responsibility, and learned all other basic things that civilization requires.
None of these are demanded in the ghettos in America or England.
If meeting standards, getting and keeping a job, behaving like a civilized person at least most of the time and all those things seemingly lost in the British and American underclasses - both - are required by reality they will appear. In plainer talk: if people have to work in order to eat and live, they will learn to behave and all the rest and will insist that their children do as well. Welfare, no matter how well-intentioned, separates members of the underclass from the bad consequences of their choices and that separation destroys them. The smart ones figure it out first and the stupid ones later, but eventually they all become unwilling to work for anything. All and every single one? No, of course not, but enough of them fail the test to create a Detroit, a Baltimore and a Manchester - England that that one. It is not rocket science. Reward sloth and indolence and you get more of it; allow natural consequences to punish it and you get less. Rules for welfare don't work. First, the folks administering the rules are - here in America at least - too willing to ignore the rules for those who are of their ethnicity. Second, the rules engender a counter-productive attitude in the underclass, since it is seen that "the man" is preventing them from getting their benefits and punishing them. Allow cause and effect to guide their behavior and you will see a change for the better, rather quickly. The biggest problem of radical welfare reform is that the former recipients will riot and will be encouraged by their better-off brothers and sisters - as well as the usual progressives who want to keep them in bondage - and the resulting destruction and social upheaval may be too much for the already strained fabric of society to withstand.
It is one thing to throw the able bodied a temporary life line while they reinvent themselves, but quite another to support intergenerational dependency. Do you suppose that Marx ever envisioned this?
It is not altruism to enable the self destructive. It is not altruism to do for others what they can do for themselves, if they never accomplish anything useful or productive. In fact, it is venal. It is a paradox that, as a society, we bend over backwards to see that the disabled have the experience of contributing and accomplishment, yet we look the other way for the poor.
I don't imagine that either man, Marx or Friedman, could have ever envisioned the number of children in single parent households, an important root cause of a self perpetuating destructive cycle, but Uncle Miltie would have recognized the perverse incentives.