In the early- and mid-20th century, systemic racism often meant that African American communities were excluded from government welfare programs. In the face of this injustice, we see numerous examples of communities stepping up to take care of each other when government officials turned the other way.
The prospect of a safety net devoid of loopholes and bureaucracy is tantalizing. Unfortunately, fiscal reality reveals UBI to be little more than clever arithmetic and a distraction from more modest changes to welfare policy and the tax code that would directly help those most in need.
History will always remember President Lyndon Johnson for his escalation of the war in Vietnam, which turned into an unwinnable and tragic entanglement against a foe he did not understand. Sadly, with over fifty years of hindsight, one must judge Johnson’s War on Poverty in much the same way.
The federal jobs guarantee, as spelled out in Democratic policy circles, would arguably be the largest public intervention in the economy in American history.
Lottery winners are thrust into a unique situation few others can understand. The struggles of many of these winners show the complexity of real wealth, which includes human and social capital, even though they can’t be measured on a balance sheet.