Welfare reform? What does that have to do with conservation?
Quite a bit actually. If we want to green up while enjoying the Good Life we need to do two fundamental things:
- We need to make cities more pleasant places to live.
- We need an economy that pays people to do a whole bunch of jobs which are not being done currently.
Cities are not pleasant places when you have a bunch of desperate, idle, and/or angry poor people around. It makes for high crime and terrible schools. Millions of people are commuting to the far suburbs just to get away from the poor people.
This can be fixed. With the right welfare system, we don’t have desperate poor people begging in the streets. We also don’t have angry idle men who could be doing useful work and exercising their ambition in a positive fashion. And we don’t have schools filled with unruly kids who have terrible role models at home. We could have a welfare system which prevents desperate situations while still leaving plenty of incentives to work, marry, and otherwise self-improve.
We could, but we don’t. Instead, we have a sticky spiderweb for a safety net. A spider web with lots of holes so you still need to deal with annoying beggars despite paying high taxes.
Worse yet, our terrible welfare system offloads much of the burden onto employers. Employers are tasked with providing retirement planning, unemployment insurance, health insurance, catching illegal aliens, and redressing grievances from past injustices.
As a result, many jobs don’t get done. We mistreat our farm animals, dump way too much trash into landfills, neglect our elderly, fail to maintain our infrastructure, and more. We rely too much on imports and automation, which leads to excessive centralization and requires uniform materials vs. working with local resources.
A Warning to Conventional Conservatives
We can fix the worst pathologies of the US welfare system, but it isn’t going to be cheap. Nominally, the price is going to go up because it involves replacing tax expenditures with real expenditures. This is just an accounting illusion, not a change in real expense, however. The number of compliance headaches imposed on employers and taxpayers will go down. The number of social workers will also go down. Those currently locked into welfare will learn the value of work and self-responsibility. Marriage will become a viable option for the very poor.
But Grover Norquist won’t be happy. You will have to break a pledge with him.
And for those naive cheerleaders who think we can simply do away with welfare, take a look around! We have socialists rioting in the streets. We have calls for single payer healthcare, extending welfare benefits to the entire planet, and more. Democracy leads to some sort of welfare system. The US delayed this reality by failing to be entirely democratic in its early phase.
Let’s get serious and do welfare right, or the Left will do welfare wrong for us.