Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Here is a thought that has been running around my head today (I don't know why). Around 9/11, not sure exactly when, there were stories about the smashing success of welfare reform, and how it wasn't just the good economy that had made it so. Well, it is easy to say those things when the economy is good, but now unemployment is rising, spending is likely to fall short this holiday season, and we probably haven't seen the last of layoffs. It seems likely to me that the effects of the recession will in terms of welfare rolls will substantially lag events themselves. The next 12-18 months will be a real test for welfare reform. Is it possible that there were unforseen consequences? Will cutting people off from welfare when the job market is bleak lead to rising crime? slower economic growth? I don't know the answers, or even pretend to, but look for the punditocracy to start weighing in on this issue if the economy doesn't rebound. As an aside, I agree with the notion that perennial welfare is not a good thing for a person, but I am not so sure about the overall social ramifications. Every population, when analyzed by productivity, will have high productivity groups (engineers, scientists, reporters, writers), workers (in all fields), and parasites (unemployed, pundits, lawyers :)). It seems to me that no social reform will remove that parasitic class (although Shakespeare's suggestion "first, kill all the lawyers" is a start!!!). Regardless of the pronouncements of the press, the jury is still out on this one.