- Elizabeth Stoker Bruening discusses the effect of poverty at the family level, particularly when coupled with policies designed to force workers to chase jobs far away from home and family:
If you want to see the right-wing denuded of its usual bluster about family values and welfare, visit this Economist post, published in response to Nick Kristof’s remembrance of a friend who fell on hard times and passed away. The piece argues that the problem isn’t a paucity of empathy for poor people who rely on welfare, but perhaps an excess of it; furthermore, the piece goes on to suggest that poor people who rely on disability benefits should, in order to get off of welfare, pack up and move away from family and friends in search of jobs.- And in case there was any doubt as to the human cost of policies which demand that workers endure whatever stress the market may see fit to inflict, Tanya Talaga reports on research showing that Greece's devastating austerity has cost hundreds of lives in addition to livelihoods.
“We ought to feel for those stuck in this sort of terrible quandary,” the article’s author writes. “Yet empathy can't change the fact that when people need jobs, they have to go to where the jobs are.” The quandary the author refers to is the problem of preferring to rely on disability income and to stay among family and friends rather than moving to an entirely new place alone in order to relinquish benefits.
(W)elfare of a certain stripe appears to resist the massive social dislocation brought on by free-market capitalism, wherein people must move at the whim of their employers. Contrary to the undermining-effect imagined by right-wing commentators who oppose welfare, therefore, something like a universal basic income could be extremely helpful in terms of stabilizing families and rooting communities in place.
In other words, the demands of capital and the obligations of family are often at cross-purposes rather than functioning in tandem. Contrary to the opinions of the wealthy, the poor do not “have it easy” on welfare, though public assistance might help some people remain with their support networks of family and friends rather than disappearing into the national ether in search of a job, whether or not such a job ever actually becomes available. Rather than making the case for harsher regulations on welfare, The Economist makes a good conservative case for a more expansive welfare regime: one that would really shore up family life.
- Meanwhile, Dave McGrane proposes four steps toward a far more effective and family-friendly child care policy.
- Michael Madowitz comments on the continuing U.S. pattern of modest GDP growth based on a combination of soaring profits and stagnant wages. And Katherine Trebeck writes that we should be focusing on a sustainable economy and society, rather than pushing a mindset of disposable consumerism.
- Finally, Dave describes the Cons' fearmongering and media restraint surrounding their terror bill as North Korean, while thwap hears echoes of public manipulation far closer to home. And Tim Harper discusses just a few of the more glaring omissions from the bill.