January 13, 2017

DAN MITCHELL: The Left’s Siren Song of Coerced Equality.

Traditionally, folks on the left favored a conventional welfare state, which revolved around two components.

1. Means-tested programs for the ostensible purpose of alleviating poverty (e.g.., Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, etc).

2. Social-insurance programs for the ostensible purpose of alleviating sickness, unemployment, and aging (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, etc).

This agenda was always a bad idea for both macro and micro reasons, and has become a very bad idea because of demographic changes.

But now the left has expanded its goals to policies that are far more radical. Instead of a well-meaning (albeit misguided) desire to protect people from risk, they now want coerced equality.

And this agenda also has two components.

1. A guaranteed and universal basic income for everyone.

2. Taxes and/or earnings caps to limit the income of the rich.

Taking a closer look at the idea of basic income, there actually is a reasonable argument that the current welfare state is so dysfunctional that it would be better to simply give everyone a check instead.

But as I’ve argued before, this approach would also create an incentive for people to simply live off taxpayers.

The real goal of course isn’t an ever-more generous welfare state, or even “income equality.” The real goal is power — and concentrating it into fewer and fewer hands, all located in Washington, D.C.

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