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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Kevin Drum Talking 'bout my generation

Kevin Drum has a funny but also genuinely interesting post on how boomers are not really to blame for messing up America (he half tongue in cheek blames the silent generation). I don't think the defensiveness is entirely an act. He does concede

Now, if you want to blame boomers for welfare reform, sure. Bill Clinton was (barely) a boomer. If you want to blame boomers for the Iraq War, I guess so. George Bush was (barely) a boomer—though the real force behind it was Dick Cheney (b. 1941). If you want to blame us for screwing up Obamacare, that seems sort of churlish, but whatever. Barack Obama was (barely) a boomer—though the real roadblock to a public option was Joe Lieberman (b. 1942) and his centrist pals.

I comment

One interesting thing, you list welfare reform with invading Iraq (and also the ACA but call that churlish) and admit that it was a boomer misdeed (blaming Cheney for Iraq and Lieberman for weaknesses of the ACA which was still a great step forward). This interests me, because our one point of regular disagreement was over how horrible welfare reform is (it is current policy so the present tense is necessary).

Oddly, I learned of the association with a sharp increase in deep poverty here (I think your second post of the series in which you briefly conceded that welfare reform was severely damaging). I never understood your motivation . Now I see how important 2 years can be (also this post makes me feel young -- thanks). I was born in 1960 so late boom (or between boomer and gen X). I definitely do not consider Bill Clinton to be from my generation. Welfare reform is something old guys did to my country.

I wonder if there is actually something non-humorous and ironic on the square here. I do really find your discussion of the topic unreasonable. Here I comment that you depend on arguing that a 50% increase is negligible https://angrybearblog.com/2016/02/drum-on-drum-on-sanders-on-welfare-reform.html

I think you actually depend on our eyes perceiving 0.1*f(x) as more nearly horizontal than f(x) so they are deceived by scale. You discuss the murder rate often. Try adding percentage of Americans murdered to the graph with different definitions of "percentage of households with childred in extreme poverty" and see how invisible the changes are.

OK "churlish" triggered me (you once mentioned that you think I don't mind being churlish -- don't expect you to remember). I will try to unchurl. I think there is a very basic problem with US welfare policy. Hatred of welfare means there are some people in the USA much poorer than anyone should be. As you noted, the dollar cost of eliminating severe poverty is tiny. I am sure you believe, as I do, that the long run poverty trap culture of poverty effects are an advantage of bringing back more generous cash welfare. But we agree that "bring back old welfare" is political poison.

I think we can agree that welfare hatred is based on racism (racists being more open than they were 10 years ago). I think there is a political problem for how to get policy around the barrier of welfare hatred. I note that the left more candidates talk about giving to college graduates (forgiving student debt) more than about giving to children in severe poverty. I think even Sanders is afraid of welfare (and of course gun control). Finally I think all the tech bro talk of UBI and how everyone will be put out of work by the robot apocalypse so you, white man, will need welfare too is all an effort to get around welfare hatred.

It is a topic you clearly understand very well (I assume growing up in Orange county is relevant) and it is very important. I now ask for a post on welfare and welfare hatred.

Sorry to comment almost off topic and at length.

8 comments:

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