2012 December 11 Tuesday
Nicholas Kristof: SSI Benefits Incentive For Illiterate Kids

The modern welfare state in action:

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

The Malthusian Trap used to select for higher IQ and more prudent approaches to life. Now the welfare state selects for stupidity and ignorance even more than our exit from the Malthusian Trap alone would cause. Our government policies aimed at alleviating suffering are making a bad situation even worse. Short term attempts to alleviate suffering make bigger problems in the long run.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 December 11 10:44 PM 

Dan said at December 12, 2012 8:23 AM:

The primary possibility for redemption is when liberals are totally 100% in charge and then they 'discover' what conservatives have been shouting non-stop since the beginning.

It was this way with crime. Liberals felt massive love for murderers and rapists and so they liberalized crime laws. Many US cities took a turn at being the murder capital of the whole effing world. Then liberals got tired of mopping up rivers of blood in numerous US cities every night. Soon all the liberals' beloved cities were collapsing into hellholes amid huge flight. So they solved the problem by getting tough on crime.

A huge difference between liberals and conservatives is in knowledge of history. Men are more into history than women. Whites are much more into history on average that blacks, hispanics or Asians. Asians, although smart in some things, have little focus on history on average.

Dan said at December 12, 2012 8:34 AM:

Re knowldge of history and liberal/conservative...

The old generally know and have seen more history than the young and are therefore more conservative.

If you want a society of conservatives-thinking people there are a couple of options:

(1) Teach history in school or
(2) Have liberals take your society through hell over a generation or two (China, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Vietnam).

Conservatism is not dead. It is never dead, because it reflects reality. Do you want to learn it or live it??!!

I suspect that one reason the Finns are so conservative was that they had to share a huge border with the USSR for many years. In WWII they had to fend off the whole friggen Red army. Which they did, mainly due to this guy:

Mike M said at December 12, 2012 11:45 AM:

Like I said in a previous comment, for the most part, poverty is a CHOICE. I guess that hit a nerve with some moochers.

Mosin said at December 12, 2012 9:00 PM:

No joke on that Hayha sniper. Guy wasted over 1,000 commies. God bless that man...

And Kristof should visit Detroit. White crackers in Appalachia ain't the problem. Never have been, never will be.

Engineer-Poet said at December 13, 2012 3:07 PM:

The "students" in Detroit and Highland Park (MI) don't need parental intervention to maintain their "struggling reader" status.

Randall Parker said at December 13, 2012 7:34 PM:


The white crackers given Kristof a safer context in which to spoon feed some truth. Diluted truth. But really pretty good for the New York Times. Any small contact with the reality of dummies and lazies is helpful to get across to the liberal base of Times readers. So Kristof should be commended. Ditto for the small dilute doses of reality that Ross Douthat, Nicholas Wade, and John Tierney manage to deliver to Times readers.

Mike M,

Some people aren't smart enough to avoid poverty without a lot of structure imposed on them. Though others are more marginal. The signals they get from government programs and media are enough to send them down bad paths.

Mike M said at December 14, 2012 12:23 PM:

Randall, I agree. That's one reason I cringe when people say that "labor" (the workers) built America. It's BS. Most of the "labor" lacks the necessary combination of intelligence and motivation/determination (the intangible non-cognitive factors we discussed in a recent post) possessed by the entrepreneurs who start the businesses and create the jobs. The income inequality is the reward the business owners receive for these "skills" and the penalty the workers pay for their lack of skills - similar to the fact that the Lakers pay Kobe Bryant a higher salary than they would pay me.

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