“Unfit to Work”

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Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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108 Responses

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Jim Heffman says:

      I’m not sure how “alternate” that view is, once you get past the “I’m the Last Psychiatrist, I’m controversial and edgy and insightful” shtick he does. There’s certainly no disagreement that about the basic situation: rising rates of permanent disability coverage among low-income people. There’s no disagreement that it’s acting as a de facto welfare program for people whose disabilities wouldn’t be disabling if they belonged to a different socioeconomic class. There’s no disagreement that there’s a system that pushing people through the process and vested interests supporting that system, though they focus on different parts of the system.

      I suppose there’s some disagreement about how intentional it is (which is entirely predictable if you know the writers; one calls it the intended purpose, the other doesn’t exactly say anything outright but sort-of implies it’s result of those in power not wanting to rock the boat and not bothering to come up with a real solution, and it’s not even clear those descriptions are mutually exclusive).

      Of course, I leave it to the reader to decide what it means if TLP can’t find anything substantive to disagree with in a mainstream media article.Report

  1. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I wonder how much of the Boomer demographic bulge contributes to both graph trends.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    Can you get disability benefits if you’re a farm worker?Report

  3. Avatar Recovered Republican says:

    “I have no time to edit or rewrite this, they have already kicked in the door. If I don’t return, avenge my death”

    The guy’s a nut. Find a real article that isn’t full of half-truths and hyperbole please.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Note that most of the increase preceded welfare reform, and that in the early ’90s they were both rising pretty sharply.Report

  5. Avatar DBrown says:

    The two programs are completely different as anyone not following any fact related story will know and tell you endlessly; thanks to welfare reform, all the blacks who, by the way, make up 75% of the rolls are being forced off this gravy train. Disability is for hard working whites who spent decades earning benefits which they totally deserve due to honest injuries beyond their control. Simple – no story, here – move along.

    I know this from a neighbor on disability.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I am listening to the TAL story right now. I am very sympathetic to the arguments made in the first piece:

    1. Many people on disability seem to be in very economically depressed areas. These were one industry towns and the industry is gone.

    2. Many might not be completely disabled but are disabled and/or old enough that they cannot do the jobs available. I imagine this is different than the economy that many of the people on the league live in.

    3. Why is it better to work at a at 8-10 hours a day standing at McDs or Wallmart for 15,000 a year and no benefits over getting disability and medicare? I would argue that there is rational self-interest and probably slightly more comfort in the the disability option. There is even possibly a small bit of dignity. There is only harassment and misery in fast food work.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

      I would argue that there is rational self-interest and probably slightly more comfort in the the disability option.

      Well, yeah, that’s the problem. It may be better for them, but it’s worse for us, because we’re paying their bills and not getting any labor in exchange. The incentives are broken.Report

      • yeah well . . . have you ever been to Hale County, AL? I have – my brother used to live there, and it’s home to Auburn University’s Rural Architecture Studio (google is your friend here). So I know that part of the country well. You want incentives? You want labor for payment? Fine – go get someone other then the catfish farming industry to locate in Hale County, because that’s all there is there now – farmed catfish (largest farmed catfish producing county in the U.S. FWIW). So there aren’t labor jobs for people to have. And there’s little educational infrastructure, so retraining for jobs that don’t exist in the county is not an option either. And none of these folks have the economic means to move somewhere else where they might be able to find work they are trained to do. We could correct that too in the form of a government subsidy I suppose, but it’s doubtful it would be less costly.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer says:

    The interesting thing is what is going to happen now that many white-collar jobs are becoming redundant.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

      There will probably be a push to legalize weed or something.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

        Very funny but I am possibly slightly Malthustian here. I think we have gotten to the point where the economy needs an increasingly smaller workforce to be productive and at full-capacity. However, we have not and continue to avoid any serious conversation about what this means for people.Report

        • Avatar DRS in reply to NewDealer says:

          ND, you’re quite right.

          Personally I think we’re going to have to evolve into a society of owners rather than workers: you just aren’t going to make money anymore simply working for someone else (and forget about working somewhere for your entire career – those days are gone). You’re going to have to be an entrepreneur whether you like it or not, you’ll have to determine what your skill set is – and how many different jobs you can do with it.

          Fun doesn’t begin to describe it. Welcome to Thunderdome.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DRS says:

            How is this going to work? There are over three hundred million people in the United States and there really isn’t a need for three hundred million entreprenuers. Most people, even very intelligent people, aren’t fit out to be entrepreneurs because a lot of people are rather risk averse. They don’t necessarily want to be rich as much as they want to be comfortable and really wouldn’t know how to come up with business ideas.Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to LeeEsq says:

              You’ve got a Steve-Jobs image of entrepreneur. What I mean is that you’ll have to be a one-person company selling your skills to whoever buys them. If you’re a writer, rather than getting a job on a newspaper or at an ad agency, you’ll juggle 3 part-time jobs as an editor of a self-created community/neighbourhood newsletter, a writer-researcher for a non-profit organization and an occasional speechwriter for a semi-prominent local personality.

              They don’t necessarily want to be rich as much as they want to be comfortable and really wouldn’t know how to come up with business ideas.

              Oh, they won’t get rich – they’ll be lucky to keep their head above water. And the spouse will need a part-time job while baby-raising too – and that doesn’t mean it has to be the wife, either. And they’d better learn how to come up with business ideas or they’re going to be eating cardboard.

              Most people, even very intelligent people, aren’t fit out to be entrepreneurs because a lot of people are rather risk averse.

              Then they’re going to get it in the shorts good and hard. Mid- to late-21st century capitalism ain’t going to be pretty.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DRS says:

                I hope your just being pessimistic rather than actually advocating for this. A capitalist system like this is going to give Marxism a very wide-spread popular revival.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I’m being realistic. North American society simply does not have a need for large numbers of employees anymore. That’s why Americans are feeling really stressed about their future situations: they have a strong commitment to what I call cultural capitalism with all its emphasis on the employee being a good person and yet it’s business capitalism in place now where your personal goodness doesn’t count at all if the company you work for is taken over or bought out and you lose your job and your pension. All the talk about “job creation” stats every quarter is simply whistling past the graveyard. Change is coming soon and it’s coming fast and hard.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DRS says:

                Do you not think it possible that we might reach a more humane solution out of pragmatism, the type that led Otto von Bismarck to pass welfare legislation, if not actual compassion. It won’t be the first time in the United States history where politicians enacted reforms to save capitalism from the worst excesses of the capitalists. See the New Deal and the Progressive Era.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Good point!Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to LeeEsq says:

                No, I don’t. Watching the ACA/Obamacare debate (or going back to the Clinton efforts to get healthcare reform in the 90’s) gives me no cause for optimism at all.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DRS says:

            This relates to Jason’s post about benevolent nanobots. Production and distribution of goods is increasingly done by machines. As the trend continues – and it will – humans will increasingly be displaced from wage-related work. What’s the logical conclusion of that process? A scarcity-free utopia where everyone is entitled to pursue personal interests and flourish (like Jason was wondering about)? An even more bloated welfare state where lazy moochers and looters suffer degrading lifestyles begging for handouts from the “job creators” indirectly thru “government-based coercion”? Some other option?Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to Stillwater says:

              By mid-century, Americans who would previously have entered the work force will be offered attractive financial packages to go overseas and work at the plants where big corporations are currently employing locals to make their products. You’ll get a job working for Apple or IBM or Dell – in India or China.

              It will be the return of indentured servitude – a multi-year contract that you will sign to get a job for seven or ten years at a stretch.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

              I think the answer will depend on how much humans are willing to let go of old assumptions relating to work, material possessions, society, and ownership. If we can get ascend the old notion that you need to work in order to be entitled to even a bare minimal living and if we can accept the idea of a mass leisure class than we can arrive at the idea of a scarcity-free utopia. In Marxist terms, create a society of “each according to their needs”. If we as species insist on the current model of work for wages even when it really doesn’t work anymore than its not going to be pleseant.Report

            • Avatar Plinko in reply to Stillwater says:

              As much as I hate to say it, I’m leaning heavily to option B.Report

            • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Stillwater says:

              It could end up like Kress’s “Beggars Ride”, where there are a few elites who run everything, a few technical types who keep all the machines running, and a huge population with no discernible skills or proficiencies who live on entitlement payments.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

          My number one worry when someone else sees a Malthusian problem is that they will impose a Malthusian solution.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

            I have to admit, that’s fair. I hope we’ll be fair in saying what proposals are and aren’t Malthusian solutions as well.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

            I have no intention of doing that.

            This does not mean my broader point is not incorrect either. There are conversations that need to be had but are not being had.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

              Well, dig this: I suspect that we’re going to find ourselves reading OWH Jr’s (ptooey!) words again and point out exactly how much sense they make. Look, we can point out to each other, we have a compelling interest at this point in how we want society to advance… I mean, there are people out there who are siphoning off the lifeblood of society, here.

              If we want to be sustainable, and we do, don’t we have a responsibility to take certain steps?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                And let me be perfectly clear: I’m not accusing you of being a bad person or wanting bad things.

                I’m more seeing Serious People saying Serious Things about Serious Topics and these things will be brought up in Serious Forums. It’s not you that is bringing this down on us. Far from it.

                This is where I see the society going.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

                As an aside, waaaay before we get to Mathusianism, we would have to re-evaluate immigration policy. Current immigration policy rests on the notion that the average person will be able to come here and contribute. If most people cannot contribute in a self-sufficient way, we would need to look at our immigration policy accordingly. I mean, if we’re willing to dabble in Malthusianism, we ought to dabble in “closed borders” first.

                At least that’s where I would go. (I am presently pro-natalist and pro-immigration, by-and-large.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Agreed. You’d see all sorts of closed border policies – labor, capital, repatriation of profits and goods, etc – rather than any thing remotely like that. But Jaybird lives in governmental Thunderdome, so it’s understandable he’d think eugenics would be the preferred – even desired! – solution.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                No one would love to be more wrong on this than me. Than I.

                We saw people arguing that, well while the soda ban was silly in how it was executed, there kind of is a bit of a compelling interest on the part of society in the food choices that people make…

                Well, I suspect that one of the (surely unintended!) consequences of Obamacare will be an increase in what compelling interests society has picked up.

                Again: I’d love to be wrong… but I ain’t the guy who brought up Malthus.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                No one would love to be more wrong on this than me. Than I.

                Of course!Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Stillwater says:

                I do hope that the people who support soda-size restrictions do not also oppose drug tests for welfare recipients.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

                The soda size restriction didn’t stop people from drinking too much soda; it stopped that being such a convenient option, on the (correct) principle that putting up obstacles to a behavior makes it less common. That may be nanny-statism, but it’s hardly fascism.

                Actually, since the principle behind capitalism is that we overlook the amoral greed that informs the lives of the wealthiest and most successful, because their byproducts enrich the rest of us. This has interesting consequences if that justification ceases to be true.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to NewDealer says:

          Hrmm, forced birth control for everyone making less than $X/yr.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

          I wrote a post on it a while back, where we might go if we have more people than self-sufficient jobs. My preferred solution, in a nutshell, is to encourage work (I strongly disagree with you about the lack of dignity in service professions) and then supplement incomes. The issue is who reaps the benefits of increased productivity in capital. Historically, it’s been the owners and not the workers or the general population. My views on where this should be, going forward, if current trends continue, are actually rather liberal in the current context (though are more likely to be conservative by the time they arrive).Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

            I don’t think there is anything wrong with service jobs but for the most part, people are not treated with dignity in them. I blame this more on management culture than anything else.

            I should have said it is entirely rational to take 13,000 USD a year plus medicaid over 15,000 USD a year and no insurance. Especially if you have health problems already and many of these people do have health problems if not completely dehabilitating ones.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

              It varies pretty strongly from one place to the next. At McDonald’s, it was customers far more than management that was the issue. At a movie theater where I worked, it was more management. At the call center, customers.

              The dignity of work comes from within, however.

              I agree with you with regards to rationality. We are fortunate that Americans are not as rational in this regard as they could be. The rationality of it comes in part from government-financed incentives, however. Which is to say, the alternative to working did not occur in a vacuum. It occurs because of a government program. To the extent that we are making a decision not to work the rational one, that’s on *us* (via government) as much as it is on management or customers (also us, I suppose).Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

          So…call me crazy, but I wonder if maybe extrapolating long-term from a once-in-a-lifetime recession isn’t the best idea.Report

        • Avatar Philip H. in reply to NewDealer says:

          Perhaps we have, but being a sometimes cynic, I note that it’s a generational problem that will take care of itself in about 30 years when all the Baby Boomers are dead. Those of us who are Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials are,mathe magically, a smaller work force, and we’re already more adept at working remotely, and as consultants anyway, because modern companies (and even government agencies) don’t actually hire employees anymore.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    I haven’t had time to go listen yet, but I’m very confused about the conflating of welfare and SSI; these are not the same things.

    To qualify for welfare, you have to have incomes below certain levels; it’s often the case that someone who will qualify for SSI is already on welfare because of their disability.

    To qualify for SSI, you have to have a medically documented problem; there are specific lists of qualifying problems and then a decision made on case-by-case basis for other problems. I’ve a friend, a carpenter in his early 50’s, who tore his rotator cuff. The surgeon bungled the repair, and he cannot use his arm at all. I’m not really sure why there’s no malpractice involved here; just that there isn’t. He now collects SSI, but it took a long time to document what happened to the point that he could. And he wouldn’t if he had other options, it’s demeaning. But, as he told me, applying for food stamps was worse.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to zic says:

      The story covers this.

      The short version is that SSI has become the new welfare after the so-called reforms of Clinton’s second term through a variety of means:

      1. States have moved people from welfare to SSI. Indeed there is a private company who makes a tidy profit by combing through state welfare rolls and getting as many people on SSI as possible.

      2. Binder and Binder and many other lawfirms have become very adept at winning cases in front of SSI administrative judges. Many SSI judges seem highly reluctant to be the person who kicks an applicant to the curb.

      3. Various studies show we are using SSI as a shadow-welfare in place of the old system because of gutting the old system. It is very easy to object to welfare, it is very hard to object to disability payments from a political prospective.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        I will listen later; but I still comprehend the conflation of SSI as the new ‘welfare,’ the benefits are driven by different criteria. Rather, I’d guess that many folk collected welfare who might have also qualified for SSI, but never actually applied for SSI.

        Again, activist judges beside the point, these programs have qualifying metrics and they are audited. I’m sure there is some abuse; but I don’t think it’s so easy to simply assume it’s easier to get SSI now; I think it more likely that because of a lack of other alternatives more qualifying people are applying now.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

          meh, still don’t comprehend the conflation.

          You also mention a specific law firm; do the loose cases, or does the story fail to report that?Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

          Fucking hell. Nobody gets the damn terms right.
          it’s:
          “veterans benefits are the new welfare”Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

          New Dealer’s last point is the really important one. SSI is being used as a way to deal with the unemployable in a relatively humane manner with the tools available to the government. Determining who is disabled isn’t being done to the strictest level of the law. One of the doctors interviewed on TAL states that he asks people how much education they have when he checks them out for disabiltiy. If the patient only has a high school level education, the doctor assumes that the person is not suited for a sit-down job and is disabled.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Seriously???
            I can name half a dozen pink-collar jobs that someone with a high school education could get.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kim says:

              That depends on the area and not everyone has the ability to move to where the jobs are. People have families and other obligations that might tie them down to a particular area.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

                A former mill worker is also highly unlikely to get hired for a lot of pink-collar jobs even if he or she is capable of doing them.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I don’t see why this would be the case, honestly. (well, other than image bias. but the millworker I knew could easily handle being an officeworker)Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

                Pretty much its image bias. The mill worker could be a perfectly good administrative assistant but image bias might prevent him or her from getting the job. That and lack of relative related jobs on resume. If you are hiring for an admistrative assistant, you probably aren’t going to hire somebody’s whose entire previous experience invovled operating heavy machinery. You probably won’t even call them in for an interview. It just wouldn’t occur to the people hiring that a former factory worker could do fine in an office.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Also, why would you hire a mill worker when there are plenty of unemployed office workers available?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I dunno. Perhaps the lumpen mill worker might not look down his nose at people on the factory floor?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                It’s an interesting question, the extent to which these tie-downs ought to constitute sufficient argument not to have to work if you are otherwise capable. It’s not one I have an easy answer for.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                mostly in that people wind up doing unpaid work instead.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

                That’s fair enough. I should distinguish between those that are doing domestic work (hey! like me!) and can’t move because they are actively taking care of grandma. And those who can’t move because they don’t want to leave family.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                Thats because there isn’t an easy answer. Our current society, and this applies to nearly the entire developed and most of the developing world, deems that one has to work in order to live for the most part. It hasn’t been unusual in human history for the man of the house and maybe some of the older boys and young men and women to seek work elsewhere and send money back to the mother, younger children, and other dependent relatives.

                Now we kind of see that as a barbaric separation of families and think that parents and children should be able to remain together rather than sending one or more family members hundreds or thousands of miles away for a long time for work. At the same time we still have the expectation that you need to work in order to live.

                The solution has to involve divorcing the idea of work and life. Work is important. I like work and find meaning in it. However, there needs to be a base minimal life-style that people are entitled to simply because they are human. If you want more than this life style than you should work for it but the base minimal life-style needs to be created. It needs to be done through government in my opinion because a democratic government is the best forum for reaching a concensus on what is the base minimal lifestyle, adjusting it as necessary, and implementing it.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

                You can have:

                1. A society that encourages families and friends to stay close and look after each other; or

                2. A no-holds barred economic system where people do not put down roots and move where ever they can find work and do not stay long.

                You cannot have both. Unless you want constant caravans of people criss-crossing the country.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to NewDealer says:

                The Grapes of Wrath, bro.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                I agree that’s the tradeoff. I go back and forth as to which we should be more encouraging of. Roots and family are nice. But so are self-sufficiency and economic efficiency.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Bring the jobs back home. There are no inexorable, immutable rules that prevent this from happening.Report

              • ?

                You talking about bringing them back home from India/China/etc so that there are enough to go around here? I’ll let the more economic-types make the free trade argument. But even if we did bring them back home, they wouldn’t be evenly distributed. We’d have the tradeoffs of people living in Liberty County, Montana, and jobs going unfilled in Pittsburgh… or people leaving Liberty County to get jobs in Pittsburgh.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                If the issues we’re talking about are offshoring and robotics leading to the loss of gainful employment, then the solution can be a domestically driven issue. What you’re talking about is also a domestically driven issue. So, I don’t know exactly what you’re objecting to. Some of this stuff is within the reach of policy, some isn’t.Report

              • I’m not objecting to your policy prescription (I mean, I think I do, but that’s not the stand I am taking here). I am saying that it wouldn’t satiate the specific issue from this sub-thread, the tension between allowing people to stay where they are versus encouraging them to go where the jobs are.

                At least, that’s what I take this particular subthread to be about. Are you talking more of the bigger picture?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think it’s all open, Will. What I’m rejecting is that profit motive and efficiency and “the price mechanism” are natural laws that cannot be violated. All the policies around this stuff are wide open.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well, not *wide* open. But open.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Will Truman says:

                We’re still on different wavelengths here. I’m not sure if you are addressing Liberty versus Pittsburgh (I still see the tension, there, it existed in the booming postwar era) or making a more general statement about excess labor capacity and how we can prevent it (or mitigate it). Nothing wrong with discussinf the latter. It just seems tangential to the aforementioned tension.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Yeah, I don’t know what we’re talking about anymore either.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                Why is self-sufficiency so important? Only a small percentage of humans have been self-sufficient through out human history. Nearly everybody else has been dependent on other humans even at the very top levels of the socio-economic ladder. Feudal lords were dependent on their serfs and servants, merchants on other merchants and customers, and industrialists on their employees and customers. Only substantive farmers and backwoods hermits have been truly self-sufficient. Why not just admit that humans are dependent on each other and try to create an ethical and workable system from that.Report

              • Lee, I’m using “self-sufficient” in a particular way. I don’t mean “hunts his own food” so much as “can pay the rancher, butcher, and cook.”

                Not that everybody has to be a net contributor. Some people can’t. That’s the way things work and those who can’t contribute should not be left on the curb. But it should be encouraged.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

                Yes, my biases are showing.Report

  9. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Question for the libertarians in the audience: would you be comfortable with this as a backdoor way to institute a guaranteed basic income?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dan Miller says:

      I don’t mind the idea of a guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax, baby!) but I worry that implementing it like this will create a weird couple of stigmas (two different ones that don’t necessarily have to be held at the same time). The first will be a general presumption that any given person on this is “faking” disability. The second will be that a presumption that if a person is on this and they aren’t obviously disabled that the disability in question is something like “mental illness” and pick up all of the stigmata associated with *THAT*.

      Hell, there are probably some unintended social consequences above and beyond those but… those are the big two that I see.

      But, as backdoors to a guaranteed basic income, eh. I’m not 100% opposed. I just think that there’s going to be baggage associated and the baggage will be stinky.Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Dan Miller says:

      I’m not opposed to guaranteed basic income (and I’m not really a libertarian). I’m not even necessarily opposed to backdooring basic income, even though doing so will almost certainly end up being inferior to a cleaner system. But if you’re going to do it, this is a terrible way to backdoor basic income.

      Any basic income program will reduce incentives to work, that’s unavoidable. But making it dependent on maintaining the illusion that beneficiaries are medically unable to work makes it worse. And it screws up the healthcare system. And there’s the stigma Jaybird mentioned.Report

  10. Avatar DRS says:

    I’m not in a position to access the audio but I’m wondering how much of the increase is because of mental health issues being recognized as valid disability claims over the past almost-twenty years.Report

    • Avatar Philip H. in reply to DRS says:

      Not much apparently. Rather it seems to be a combination of 4 decades of geographic and production needs shifts, combined with shrinking educational opportunities (both of which are leaving behind America’s rural manufacturing towns), combined with the fact that States can contract with companies to get disability benefits for their citizens at little or no cost, since Disability is a fully federally funded program (unlike Medicaid).Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Burt! A million years ago, you wrote an epic post about various caste/class issues in the US and one of the castes you mentioned involved the people who just wanted to game the system. I’m searching for that essay and cannot find it. You know the one I’m talking about?

    For the life of me, I think it’s germane.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      With Burt’s help, I found the essay.

      It’s a really, really, really good one.

      https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/01/three-classes/Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

        That was one of the first League essays I read.

        Though things change a la gentrification. There are neighborhoods/practices in my 80s childhood which used to be considered very working class/proletarian but are now the heights of upper-middle class Bourgeois-Bohemian living.

        My brother lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where there are lots of very modest row homes with small lots. People often park their cars on these small lots. When I was a kid, the community was considered very poor and the practice of needing to park a car outside was another class marker of being more modest. Now these houses are probably very chic, worth millions of dollars (the exterior still screams modesty but the insides are probably very expensively done) and the free-parking in NYC is another big plus.Report

  12. Avatar mike77 says:

    Wish our economic data better reflected the changing economy. This post talks about the ‘gap’ between unemployment data and reality. http://www.statisticsblog.com/2013/03/minding-the-reality-gapReport

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