February 13th, 2012

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Interesting NYT On Social Safety Net

A NYT piece looking at a county that recent voted out its long-time Democratic representative to vote for a Tea Party Republican who promises to reduce the social safety net on which they are dependent.

The article is lengthy and captures the complexity of emotions felt by people who feel (a) that the government should limit the social safety net to the desperately poor, not simply sustain people at a their current living standard; (b) do not believe in raising taxes; but, (c) recognize that they are beneficiaries of these programs and that many of them will become desperately poor without them.

My personal feeling on this is that the economic benefits to everyone from a well executed social safety net are not understood. We look on the social safety net as charity. That's partly correct. But it is more than that. It is a method for regulating the economy. If you think economic regulation to smooth out the bumps of the boom-bust cycle is bad, then this is not a selling point.

As I have said before, my belief is that we should maximize the likelihood of good outcomes and try to minimize the impact of bad outcomes. The result of that is to drive economic growth toward the center of the curve. This produces fewer really rich people, but also fewer really poor people. I would also argue that it drives the standard of living up for all, even the people who would have been richer, since being the wealthiest person in a crap economy is not as useful overall as being slightly less wealthy in a more developed economy. But again, that's personal opinion on policy.
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Link Harvest: Do Educated Women Have A Harder Time Getting Married

When one actually looks at data, according to this article, the answer is that the world has indeed changed since the 1950s, even if popular culture is loath to admit it.

Women with college degrees or higher levels of education under the age of 50 are as likely to be married as those with only high-school education. Men surveyed now rank a college education or better in a potential mate of the opposite sex as a plus. Indeed, it ranks fourth; behind mutual attraction, emotional stability, and reliable character.