Friday, June 6, 2014

Ensnared in the social safety net

There's a conservative line about how the social safety net shouldn't be a hammock. Instead, I see it as a fisherman's net that traps people.

Each political group likes to talk about America's poor who receive government money as a single unit. Left wingers talk about people who want to work and contribute to society, but are victims of circumstance. Right wingers talk about lazy freeloaders who are scamming the rest of us. Both sides say there examples of the other group in there, but they are a minority.

Both of those groups of welfare recipients exist, but I see a third group as much more prevalent: People who want to work, but aren't willing to be poorer in the short term in order to work.

Sean Mulholland narrates this excellent Learn Liberty video outlining the issue:

By the way, this is the exact scenario I found myself in when I was on unemployment starting in January 2009.


  1. "It's the incentives, stupid."

  2. And, "negative income tax".

    That is all.

  3. I see this everyday trying to support people with disabilities return to the workforce. Less than 1% annually stop receiving Social Security Disability Insurance because they’ve returned to work at “substantial gainful activity” – most work below the threshold because that maximizes their monthly income (which is merely rational behavior). But as a result the system is overloaded and will only be able to pay 80% of obligations at some point in 2016.

  4. Dave, it's been a while. Thanks for commenting, and let's catch up some time.

  5. Sounds good. I changed my email to dave.dubay73 at gmail