Tag: Welfare state

MI senior fellow Chris Pope joins Brian Anderson to discuss the surprising generosity of the U.S. welfare state, the reasons health care costs so much in America, and the prospects of the Biden administration’s policy agenda.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Howard Husock joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Husock’s new book, Who Killed Civil Society? The Rise of Big Government and Decline of Bourgeois Norms.

Government-run social programs funded with tax dollars are thought to be the “solution” to America’s social ills. But in his new book, Who Killed Civil Society?, Husock shows that historically, it was voluntary organizations and civic society, operating independently from government and its mandates, that best promoted the habits and values conducive to upward social mobility.

Where Affordable, Altruistic Healthcare Goes to Die


As conservatives, we’re never surprised by news that Obamacare hasn’t fixed the nightmares facing the typical American confronted with medical bills. Nor are we surprised when Obamacare only makes them worse. A few years ago, Jim Epstein at Reason predicted the demise of health-sharing ministries at the hands of Obamacare’s subsidized exchanges. The good news is that Epstein was wrong: Membership in health-sharing ministries has only grown as frustration with commercial prepaid plans under the Affordable Care Act continues to mount. According to the New York Times,

[M]embership in sharing ministries has more than doubled over the last six years, to 535,000 from about 200,000, according to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries.

Epstein attributes this doubling to “Obamacare’s disastrous rollout and the extent to which new mandates would drive up premiums and leave customers seeking out cheaper options.”

There Was a Time When…


shutterstock_242295037There was a time when the rate of crimes committed by blacks was within two percentage points as those committed by whites. And both were below 15 percent. There was a time when the murder rate among blacks was almost identical to that of whites and they were both below 14 percent. Likewise, there was a time when the percentage of children born out of wedlock among blacks was almost identical to that of whites. And they were both under 16 percent.

During this entire time (roughly 90 years), blacks really did have to be aware of targeting by some law enforcement. It was standard police procedure in towns large and small in every corner of the nation to have “dragnets” where several likely suspects were just rounded up and questioned with the hope of pinning it on one of them regardless of color. Real lynching of blacks took place all over the United States. Jim Crow and segregation laws were in place in every state.

But during the entire period the black family stayed just as intact as the white family and most were led by men who followed moral codes, worked with energy and honesty and believed in independence. Those Doubting Thomases among you need only to read Fredrick Douglass’s “Self-Made Men” speech (hopefully again and again) and the commencement address delivered this year by Justice Clarence Thomas at Hillsdale College in which he describes his raising in the rural, Jim Crow south by a principled, strong grandfather.

“They Become Disgusted With our Manner of Life”


Castalia Ohio, bike ride of Labor Day 1998 - where a War of 1812 captivity story began.Some of us on Ricochet have been wondering how to teach people to prefer the liberty of free markets to the security of socialism. Others have been lecturing us about how capitalism has made life fantastically better for humans.

Each time one of these discussions comes up, I wish people here knew more about Indian captivity narratives — the true ones, that is. These stories have been popular in North America since the late 1600s, though not always been viewed as essential knowledge.

I learned of a new one today while working in the archives of the historical library in a small town in Texas. I’m following up on the three stagecoach owners who operated a line between Detroit and Chicago, and then all went to Texas following the 1832 Black Hawk War. It turns out that a descendant of one of the three, a woman who did a lot of research on her family history, was the granddaughter of a man who had spent his formative years as an Indian.

Dutch King: The Welfare State Is Over


King Willem-AlexanderThe American left regularly points to the social democracies of northern Europe as templates for a better United States. If only our economic policies were more like those in Sweden, Finland, or The Netherlands, there would be no limit to our success. What they haven’t noticed are the ample flaws of those systems in shown in social stagnation, capital flight, and reduced freedom.

But the most important development our progressives miss is that these famously liberal states are rolling back their safety nets. Over the past decade a center-right coalition in Stockholm has eliminated the worst excesses of Sweden’s welfare state, angry Finns are trying to cut up Greece’s credit cards, and the Dutch monarch has now declared the welfare state of the 20th century dead.

King Willem-Alexander, two years into his reign following the abdication of Queen Beatrix, has called for a “participation society” to replace the outdated system of government handouts. In a televised speech Monday, he asked citizens to take an increasing amount of responsibility for their social and financial health as The Hague slowly retracts taxpayer-funded welfare programs.

7 Myths About Scandinavia’s Social Democratic ‘Paradise’


hiker-on-mountain-shutterstock-500x293If Scandinavia didn’t exist, the left would have to invent it. Overall, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are known as nations that combine big government with good economic growth. Low levels of inequality and poverty with high levels of innovation. Social democratic models for America, some Democrats suggest.

But in “Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism,” Nima Sanandaji argues that all these wonderful qualities of Scandinavian society “predated the development of the welfare state” and that “all these indicators began to deteriorate after the expansion of the Scandinavian welfare states and the increase in taxes necessary to fund it.” Some key points:

1.) Left-leaning pop stars, politicians, journalists, political commentators and academics have long praised Scandinavian countries for their high levels of welfare provision and for their economic and social outcomes. It is, indeed, true that they are successful by most reasonable measures. However, Scandinavia’s success story predated the welfare state. Furthermore, Sweden began to fall behind as the state grew rapidly from the 1960s. Between 1870 and 1936, Sweden enjoyed the highest growth rate in the industrialised world. However, between 1936 and 2008, the growth rate was only 13th out of 28 industrialised nations. Between 1975 and the mid-1990s, Sweden dropped from being the 4th richest nation in the world to the 13th richest nation in the world.

Is America’s Welfare State Suffocating US Entrepreneurs?


img-manlightbulbinnovationeconomyprosperityshutterstock_152308365121What’s the link between entrepreneurship and the welfare state? Dynamic societies certainly require strong, pro-work, fiscally sustainable safety nets. But is there a trade-off where expanding the welfare states reduces entrepreneurship? Or might it actually encourage entrepreneurship?

Over at The Atlantic, Walter Frick offers economic literature roundup that suggests the latter. A strong safety net encourages startups by making the effort seem less risky, he argues. For instance, a 2014 paper found the expansion of food stamps “in some states in the early 2000s increased the chance that newly eligible households would own an incorporated business by 16 percent.” Another paper by the same author found that “the  rate of incorporated business ownership for those eligible households just below the cutoff was 31 percent greater than for similarly situated families that could not rely on CHIP to care for their children if they needed it.”

Likewise, Frick argues, “Obamacare doubles as entrepreneurship policy by making it easier for individuals to gain health insurance without relying on an employer.” Yup, we’re talking about the “job lock” phenomenon. Then there is a 2010 RAND study that found “American men were more likely to start a business just after turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare than just before.” Finally, it appears that when “France lowered the barriers to receiving unemployment insurance, it actually increased the rate of entrepreneurship.”

Open Markets Are Better Than Destroyed Borders


shutterstock_168752339The situation within Europe is alarming. The so-called Arab Spring — particularly the civil war in Syria — has displaced millions of people and further undermined the traditional system of working nation states in Europe. While not the original cause of Europe’s immigration problem, current events are accelerating them: after a dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean, these refugees are overburdening the European welfare system while leaving their own countries bereft of development.

There can be no doubt that immigration has played an important role in every era of human history. A developing culture depends on exchange: exchange of ideas, exchange of of markets, and exchange of people. Without the Roman invasions, Northern Europe would never have developed civilization. The founding of the United States — closer to our time — was essentially the product of unbounded ideas, a societal tabula rasa created by diligence and hope that lacked the burden of medieval Europe, but preserved the best of its thinkers from Cato, to Cicero, to Saint Augustine, to John Locke. Immigration is the driver of a flourishing culture.

But Europe’s open borders do not represent real exchange, and the problems faced by underdeveloped countries in North Africa and the Middle East cannot be solved by uncontrolled immigration into European welfare states. Indeed, even a short and superficial analysis of the European supranational state must concede that the European Union’s policy of a closed, internal market essentially causes the problems its underdeveloped neighbors face.

Debating Memes: Silhouette Man


Scandinavian countries are awesome. At least that’s what all of my liberal friends tell me. These countries are virtual socialist utopias of equality and happiness, as well as a model for a progressive America. As one who remembers the meaning of the word utopia (no place), I am innately skeptical of such claims. The left wing meme generation machine ™ does not share my skepticism however, and has created a comic strip of sorts that explains why Americans are stupid for not giving “free” college education to all of our students. Meet Silhouette man.