Social Welfare

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Often derided as the "welfare state", social welfare produces the best lives for all by standards of low poverty, health, long lives, employment, education and many other measures. There are many varieties, including Basic Income. Conservatives and libertarians create many myths about welfare failures.


A Conservative Case for the Welfare State [More...]
"In his 1987 book The Fairness of Markets, the libertarian economist Richard McKenzie argued that welfare benefits were essential to the operation of a free market. Without them, society’s net losers, such as workers who lost their jobs due to free trade policies, would put up roadblocks that would undermine the market, such as protectionism, that would ultimately cost more in terms of growth than the cost of welfare."
A Foundation, Not a Net
"A good welfare state is more than just a safety net. It's a foundation on top of which people can build their lives... Old-age pensions, paid family leave, child care benefits, public health insurance, and education..."
Basic Income (16 links)
A simple social welfare program that ensures everyone has sufficient income to raise them above the poverty line, whether or not they work. Most libertarians oppose this as "redistribution". Milton Friedman proposed this as a negative income tax. In Canada, an experimental version was called Mincome. In the US, the Alaska Permanent Fund is a basic income system.
Child Poverty Across Political Traditions [More...]
Nations with social democratic institutions in the developed world have much less child poverty than nations with liberal market institutions.
No, we don’t spend $1 trillion on welfare each year [More...]
Mike Konczal refutes Cato Institute claims which overestimate spending by a factor of 4 and ignore the fact that poverty rate statistics are measures of what poverty would be without the spending, rather than after the spending.
People’s Policy Project [More...]
People’s Policy Project (3P) is a think tank founded in 2017 by Matt Bruenig. The primary mission of 3P is to publish ideas and analysis that assist in the development of an economic system that serves the many, not the few. Funded through Patreon, to avoid the compromises typically demanded by monied interests.
Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge and Network-Based Increasing Returns [More...]
In a world of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are lucky, and the illusion of desert is punctured by any recognition that there is a large societal dividend to be distributed. This is the dismal science at its best and most dismal.
Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year (2015) [More...]
"Safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2015, lifting 38 million people — including 8 million children — above the poverty line, our analysis of Census data released yesterday finds[...] The figures rebut claims that government programs do little to reduce poverty.
Welfare Beats Jobs When It Comes to Poverty Reduction [More...]
What we see across countries is that low inequality and poverty is overwhelmingly about social spending. Even a very low unemployment rate will produce a high poverty rate if the welfare spending is not there.


[H]umans are, at a very deep and basic level, gift-exchange animals. We create and reinforce our social bonds by establishing patterns of “owing” other people and by “being owed”. We want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships. We create and reinforce social bonds by giving each other presents. We like to give. We like to receive. We like neither to feel like cheaters nor to feel cheated. We like, instead, to feel embedded in networks of mutual reciprocal obligation. We don’t like being too much on the downside of the gift exchange: to have received much more than we have given in return makes us feel very small. We don’t like being too much on the upside of the gift exchange either: to give and give and give and never receive makes us feel like suckers. We want to be neither cheaters nor saps.
Brad DeLong, "Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge and Network-Based Increasing Returns"
This wish to believe that you are not a moocher is what keeps people from seeing issues of distribution and allocation clearly -- and generates hostility to social insurance and to wage supplement policies, for they rip the veil off of the idea that you deserve to be highly paid because you are worth it. You aren’t.
Brad DeLong, "Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge and Network-Based Increasing Returns"