[ExI] The choice wasn't death/was Re: Friedman and negative income tax

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon May 11 05:42:01 UTC 2009

Stathis wrote:

> 2009/5/8 Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com>:
>> eager Social Security office workers were looking
>> for people just like me to put on the dole. One
>> of the greatest strokes of luck in my life is that
>> they didn't find me in time.
>> So I had to leave southern California, all my chess
>> pals, all the distractions of life that I had
>> accumulated in my misspent youth, and focus on
>> making a living. Thank goodness.

 > Are you saying you would have been content with the
 > dole had it been available?

Sadly, I'm afraid that that's exactly the case,
although "content" is surely too strong a word.
How about "resigned"?

One person I know who didn't want to work has
managed to convince the State of California that he
is insane. And, uh, by "didn't want to work", I mean
that he was never forced to make really hard choices
and undergo retraining (he's very bright), or start
at some low wage and work his way up---the state was
there to give him an easier way out.

Another person I know is a sort of hypochondriac.
He did leave California, and found a government-
supported life in a nearby state. He's hardly
happy---but he (like my other acquaintance) is
now thoroughly addicted to the dole, and is
completely convinced that his illnesses make
impossible any improvement in his condition.
(There's only a small chance that he's right.)

I offer these examples, of course, not by way of
proof, but by way of illustrating a process that
stand to reason: In America, even, the state actively
intercedes in many, many people's lives destroying
incentive. Quite a number of third-generation
welfare recipients, or so I am told, now know
no other way of living---you have a lot of kids
and let the government take care of you, and,
although there is a lot of hassle, you adapt.

 > Then to be consistent you would have obtained
 > a part-time job had the dole not been available,
 > i.e. one requiring the minimum effort to obtain
 > the same income as the dole.

Well, I did try that. The work was simply too
nasty (in one case, so boring that I was not
able to do the work as well as others). It was
at this point that I could have become addicted
to the dole, and eventually, if the U.S.
government had followed some European ones,
learned to live very cheaply, perhaps in other
countries, on the little money provided by
my government.

Fortunately for me, I was too lazy to do a
through job of investigating all that the state
of California had to offer, and I didn't happen
to know anyone at the time who had learned how
to extract a daily living from them.


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