"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 28, 2013

For Whom the Dole Bells

Via Ace:

Danny Creamer, 21, and Gina Allan, 18, spend each day watching their 47 in. flatscreen TV and smoking 40 cigarettes between them in their comfy two-bedroom flat.
It is all funded by the taxpayer, yet the couple say they deserve sympathy because they are “trapped”.
They even claim they are entitled to their generous handouts because their hard-working parents have been paying tax for years.
The couple, who have a four-month-old daughter Tullulah-Rose, say they can’t go out to work as they could not survive on less than their £1,473-a-month benefits.
The pair left school with no qualifications, and say there is no point looking for jobs because they will never be able to earn as much as they get in handouts.

No one could survive in politics if he or she were to acknowledge the most elementary fact of humanity and statistics -- that half the people are to the left side of the median of the bell curve of intelligence. What that means is that about 47.5% of people  have IQs between 70 and 100 -- i.e., two standard deviations from the median. Don't like that fact? Does that fact make you feel nervous? Are you worried that someone will call you a bad name if you mention that fact? Join the club of every politician in public life. It is the great unmentionable.

But what it means is that, for roughly 150 million Americans (and perhaps 30-40 million Brits), they can either get unskilled or semi-skilled manufacturing jobs that aren't a lot of fun, or they can be on the dole. If you make the dole attractive enough, of course they won't want to work at a job that isn't much fun. And that, increasingly, is what we've done.

Actually, we've done worse. At the same time as we've created a system that incentivizes not working and disincentivizes working, we've also conspired, through the genius of liberalism, to create an economy increasingly hostile toward the very type of manufacturing jobs that the left side of the bell curve could do. We've installed the idiocy of the minimum wage, and we've permitted a regime of hyper-regulation that rewards lawyers (the right side of the bell curve, at least most of them I've met), and punishes the left side of the bell curve by making it difficult to build factories where they could work.

And don't be a sap. The people on the left side of the bell curve are not going to become rocket scientists, no matter how much money you pour into public schools or subsidized college loans. So we can either (a) create a society where there are a lot of manufacturing jobs and a system that rewards hard work and punishes sloth, which is what we would do if we really cared about the poor; or else (b) create a society where there aren't a lot of manufacturing jobs, but there is an overly generous dole, with disability and unemployment and welfare and food stamps and Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security. One leads to dignified productive citizens, the other to the pitiful examples in the article.

Goodness gracious, a 21 year-old man and an 18 year-old woman, and they are convinced that their lives are over, and they can never improve them! That's about the saddest thing I've ever read. Do liberals understand how their welfare system dehumanizes people? Do they care at all?

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