Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Free Money

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting op-ed today, proposing that we could scrap the whole welfare state entirely if we just cut everyone a check for $10,000 a year, and gave them nothing else.

It's an intriguing approach, mostly because it immediately highlights the problematic aspects of the welfare state. The absolute inefficiency of the government is, of course, immediately obvious, when we think that a cash grant would, in the end, be easier and more efficient than a maze of social programs. But this approach also makes it nakedly obvious that the welfare state is ultimately about redistribution of wealth -- take money from the rich, and give it to people with less. It also completely takes out the notion of social engineering; the government is no longer trying to promote some behaviors and prevent others.

Would it work? Sadly, no, though I like the boldness and simplicity of it. Our system of government is so fiendishly clever at finding new ways to favor some at the expense of others that I can't imagine it could swear off all entitlement programs. And, while I resent the paternalism of government when applied to me, I can't help but see that many people who need the money the most are also the one's least well equipped to make good decisions about it's use. When the abject poor blow their government paycheck on booze and lottery tickets, will I be able to wash my hands of them? Or of their children?



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