Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paul Krugman Debunks Paul Ryan's Poverty [Trap] Crap

Paul Krugman addresses the mysterious magic of Paul Ryan's "poverty trap." First, Paul Ryan:
...we don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.
As if being given a hand up, being prevented (along with their spouse and kids) from starving to death, turns impoverished people into lazy louts who do nothing but sit around and live off government unemployment checks. Somehow, only poor people who get money from the government behave this way; members of the 1% as identified in Stiglitz's book (see post below) would never be lazy in exchange for the millions dished out to them through various mechanisms! (Read the book.) But as Ryan tells it, the poor are congenitally lazy, because the energetic and devoted workaholics are never poor, never mind the evidence to the contrary. And surely he's right, except for one thing...

It's all utterly political bullshit. All of it.

Krugman follows through, first with a table of annual hours worked by adults in various countries (the US blows away the other dozen nations in hours worked), and then with a chart that displays generational earnings elasticity (i.e., economic mobility between generations) versus income inequality within that nation's society:

Krugman's chart of inequality for the US and 12 other nations
Note where the US sits at the extremes of maximum inequality and minimum mobility. Note also that the many nations that offer their citizens better social welfare programs (equivalents of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, etc.) exhibit both less inequality and more intergenerational mobility.

So much for Rep. Ryan's truly stupid, ideologically driven conjecture about what social insurance programs do to willingness to work large numbers of hours and the possibility of a child's out-pacing a parent's economic class...

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