The Rabid two Minute Chait
Jon Chait has a great time with Paul Ryan and someone named McCay Coppins who asserted (without feeling any need to present evidence) that Chait is a “rabid” critique of Paul Ryan. Do click the link and read the whole post. You won’t regret it.
(Don’t you hate the way the internet makes it possible for us to read only things which confirm our prejudices ? No I don’t either. That is why I have such an unhealthy addiction to the internet).
Coppins presents criticism of Ryan as “rabid,”a “caricature,” and “personal,” and Ryan himself as wounded, misunderstood innocent:
When I mention one of his most rabid critics in the commentariat, the liberal New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait,
then Chait rabidly reads a budget resolution (if you ever see a dog reading a budget resolution, turn around and walk away).
The underlying problem here is a massive gulf between Ryan’s rhetoric and his policy agenda. Ryan’s famous budget consists primarily of extremely deep cuts to programs benefiting low-income Americans.
How to resolve this tension? One way is to assert that the best way to help poor people is to cut their subsidies. Ryan does indeed make this case, and Coppins endorses it:
If [Ryan’s] rhetoric lacks poetry, his arguments against the current state-centric approach to aiding the poor is compelling. Since Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty,” the U.S. government has spent an estimated $13 trillion on federal programs that have resulted, 50 years later, in the highest deep poverty rate on record.
This statistic is one of the very few fact-based policy assertions in Coppins’s story. It is wildly misleading. Ryan is using a measure of poverty that excludes a lot of the subsidies government gives to the poor.
Ryan also wants to escape responsibility for the draconian consequences of his proposals. “I can’t speak for everybody and put my stuff in their budget,” he tells Coppins. “My work on poverty is a separate thing.” Their budget? The great vision statement for which Ryan has been widely hailed is now somebody else’s?
There’s not much else to argue with in Coppins’s account, which relies on visual description to press his case for Ryan’s good faith.
As a result of your lashing out with this rabid personal caricature, I have decided to never again pay any attention to anything this McKay Coppins person writes or says. As you foam at the mouth and fear water, don’t feel too proud. I am only vaguely aware of who McKay Coppins might be, and never paid him or her any attention (google images just convinced me that he is a man and, yes, I honestly didn’t know).
My usual bit about deep poverty after the jump.
On the other hand, you let Ryan play heads he wins tails you loose. When news on the poverty front was good (late 90s) Ryanoids (and Clintonians and, I trust, one Jon Chait) said that this showed that welfare reform was a big success. Now that the news is not so good, this shows that the great society programs were failures. It can’t be that good news and bad news are both evidence “that the best way to help poor people is to cut their subsidies.”
You are very casual about the distinction between poverty and deep poverty (cash income less than half the poverty line). This is an interesting measure, because AFDC and TANF benefits were and are less than the poverty line. The programs were designed to prevent deep poverty without allowing the poor to be non-poor without working. Other changes in culture and stuff (from the increasing fraction of births out of wedlock to the plummeting rate of teen age pregnancy and the plummeting crime rate) affect poverty and deep poverty which tend to move together except after welfare reform.
It is not a coincidence that the deep poverty rate is record setting while the poverty rate isn’t after a recession during which the welfare roles didn’t grow. They couldn’t, because the welfare reform bill made the Federal contribution rigid and state budgets were in desperate shape (as always during recessions).
You are right that the headline poverty and deep poverty rates treat SNAP (formerly know as food stamps) as worthless (and also the EITC and Medicaid). Also the deep poverty rate was only calculated from 1975 on (I have no idea why).
But it just makes no sense for conservatives to define the present as the product of Johnson when they claim it is bad, and of Reagan and Gingrich when they claim it is good. Ryan’s claims are so absurd that you can beat him at heads he wins tails you lose, because he is so blinded by ideology that he can’t even see if the coin came up heads or tails, and because he is tempted into lazy easily refuted lies by fawning reporters. But it is not a good idea to establish the principle that Conservatives can blame Johnson for everything 46 years after the inauguration of Richard Nixon.
Anytime Dems (Obama and company) want to raise proposals that will actually make a big difference in Americans’ lives (in income inequality!), like centralized bargaining (ask the Teamsters Union or continental Europeans or French Canadians or Argentinians or Indonesians) or the simple sense of supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage or single payer health …
… all things almost guaranteed to catch big majority support — if ever talked up, ever …
… we the people can stop talking on all the dumb crap Repubs try to sell BECAUSE IT WILL SEEM SO TRITE IN COMPARISON.
The poverty rate was falling sharply, until the “War on Poverty” was fully implemented and extended after 1964. Chart:
I suspect, the “War on Poverty” put a floor on “deep poverty,” to virtually eliminate it. However, it also placed a ceiling to trap many in poverty.
I suspect the economy placed a ceiling on poverty in general as income resulting from productivity gains other than government transfers was heavily skewed to the upper 10%.
I know you think that the war on poverty trapped people in poverty. Many people sincerely believe this and it is theoretically possible. However, I don’t know of any evidence which supports this view. In this blog I have noted very convincing quasi experimental evidence that the long term effect of availability of food stamps is to reduce dependency
There is also genuine experimental evidence which basically proves that welfare reform killed people
I think that denying that welfare reform killed people in Florida is not quite like denying say global warming or that HIV causes AIDS, but the link is to an overwhelmingly statistically significant experimental result which suprised the authors of the paper.
I know of no evidence of that quality which supports the common sincerely held view that anti poverty programs (which as we both note are really anti deep poverty programs) trap people in poverty
GREED of the rich&banks put people in deep poverty.
I would suggest that the WP graph show that the acceptance of Friedman’s free trade ideas in early 1970’s not only increased poverty, but also increased the debt of the Nation. Poverty of the Nation and it’s populist is still increasing.
Robert, I think, the War on Poverty very likely trapped many people into poverty, because people respond to incentives and understand trade-offs.
HOW THE WELFARE STATE HAS DEVASTATED AFRICAN AMERICANS
“Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin)—herself a former welfare recipient—acknowledged in her oral testimony: “I once had a job and begged my supervisor not to give me a 50-cents-an-hour raise lest I lose Title 20 day care.””
Do the economics of fifty cents and cost of day care….practical and commonsense. And you turn it into cosmic answers. I much prefer Robert’s approach.
Beene, I’ve already explained globalization, i.e. open markets, free trade, and unrestricted capital flows benefited the U.S. tremendously and raised living standards for the U.S. masses substantially.
Moreover, because of the Law of Comparative Advantage, globalization not only reduced U.S. poverty substantially, ceteris paribus, it reduced poverty on a global scale sharply.
PT’s babble’s but show no model of decreased poverty of Nation or populist.
ceteris paribus (with other things)
I wonder if Peak’s mouth moves when he talks?
Meanwhile, I have always felt that Paul Ryan is the most evil person in American politics.
Beene, I’ve already explained it in detail. In summary, the U.S. “gains-in-trade” were larger than the gains-in-trade from its trading partners. So, the U.S. was able to consume more than produce in the global economy and in the long-run, e.g. through differences or changes in interest rates, inflation, and currency exchange rates. And, those freed-up limited resources allowed the U.S. to move more quickly into emerging industries, where the U.S. not only leads the world, it leads the rest of the world combined (in revenue and profit). The U.S. offshored older industries, imported those goods at lower prices and higher profits, and shifted resources into newer industries, with market power, and into high-end manufacturing.
I don’t know what debt you’re talking about. The U.S. has been a Black Hole in the global economy attracting imports and capital, and even attracting the owners of that capital themselves. Moreover, U.S. multinationals generally have much more market power than their foreign competitors.
If U.S. economic growth and employment have been too slow, you can’t blame that on moving from one economic revolution into the next more quickly. There are other factors why those resources aren’t employed more quickly, and efficiently. Nonetheless, globalization has increased “the size of the U.S. pie” substantially.
Here’s an article by the Fed:
Income Flows from U.S. Foreign Assets and Liabilities
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
November 14, 2012
Foreign investors placed roughly $1.0 trillion in U.S. assets in 2011, pushing the total value of their claims on the United States to $20.6 trillion. Over the same period, U.S. investors placed $0.5 trillion abroad, bringing total U.S. holdings of foreign assets to $16.4 trillion. One might expect that the large gap of -$4.2 trillion between U.S. assets and liabilities would come with a substantial servicing burden. Yet U.S. income receipts easily exceed payments abroad.
As we explain in this post, a key reason is that foreign investments in the United States are weighted toward interest-bearing assets currently paying a low rate of return while U.S. investments abroad are weighted toward multinationals’ foreign operations and other corporate claims earning a much higher rate of return.
U.S. investors earned a much higher rate of return on multinationals’ foreign operations and similar corporate holdings than did foreign investors here, 10.7 percent versus 5.8 percent, respectively.
The superior U.S. rate of return on FDI, as well as the greater tilt in U.S. foreign investments toward FDI, accounts for the $322 billion income surplus recorded in this category in 2011…The United States has earned a substantial premium on FDI investments at least since the 1960s.
PT’s longer babble doubt any reads past first sentence; which if true the USA would not be running a trade deficit (ever larger) since 1980.
The book I posted URL below will you of any believe in Smith’s theories on trade.
Beene, I passed the comp exams in International Trade (also, in Money & Central Banking).
Here’s a related article:
James Fallows studied American history and literature at Harvard, where he was the editor of the daily newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. From 1970 to 1972 Fallows studied economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.
“Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus—$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per day—that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) People’s Republic of China.
Any economist will say that Americans have been living better than they should—which is by definition the case when a nation’s total consumption is greater than its total production, as America’s now is. Economists will also point out that, despite the glitter of China’s big cities and the rise of its billionaire class, China’s people have been living far worse than they could. That’s what it means when a nation consumes only half of what it produces, as China does.
Neither government likes to draw attention to this arrangement, because it has been so convenient on both sides. For China, it has helped the regime guide development in the way it would like—and keep the domestic economy’s growth rate from crossing the thin line that separates “unbelievably fast” from “uncontrollably inflationary.” For America, it has meant cheaper iPods, lower interest rates, reduced mortgage payments, a lighter tax burden. The average cash income for (Chinese) workers in a big factory is about $160 per month. On the farm, it’s a small fraction of that. Most people in China feel they are moving up, but from a very low starting point.
This is the bargain China has made—rather, the one its leaders have imposed on its people. They’ll keep creating new factory jobs, and thus reduce China’s own social tensions and create opportunities for its rural poor. The Chinese will live better year by year, though not as well as they could. And they’ll be protected from the risk of potentially catastrophic hyperinflation, which might undo what the nation’s decades of growth have built. In exchange, the government will hold much of the nation’s wealth in paper assets in the United States, thereby preventing a run on the dollar, shoring up relations between China and America, and sluicing enough cash back into Americans’ hands to let the spending go on.”
Ever give a thought to posting a link for your quotes?
PT, It’s not your education or writing skills that’s in question; wish I had them.
My position is the USA and its populist has suffered from 40 plus years of policy that is creating an ever smaller middle class and ever larger National debt.
Should we help the rest of the world; yes. But not at the expense of National interest.
PT: Borrowing and spending is fun. Its having to pay off the DEBT that’s a pain.
If those T-Bills are held for 30 years then that’s borrowing $4000 per person per year for 30 years. Quite possibly the amount of borrowing per person per year has INCREASED over the lifetime of those FIRST T-Bills. I’m almost positive the borrowing didn’t stop after 1972.
Mike, I stated before, the U.S. is able to maintain trade deficits in the long-run, because foreigners lose through differences or changes in inflation, interest rates, and currency exchange rates.
For example, over the past few decades, the Japanese yen appreciated from 360 to 100 per dollar, which means Japan received fewer and fewer yen per dollar.
And, it should be noted, many Japanese millionaires moved to the U.S., e.g. Hawaii, and Chinese millionaires are moving to the U.S., e.g. to start businesses, buy property, or their children stay after graduating from a U.S. college.
Those returning dollars not only generate premiums for Americans, e.g. in selling property, they create output, employment, and tax revenue, directly and indirectly, which also benefit Americans.
The World’s Reserve Currency
October 3, 2007
“A reserve currency is money that’s held by many countries as their foreign exchange reserves. It’s also the currency that’s typically used to price commodities, such as oil and gold, that are traded between countries.
A country whose currency is the predominant reserve currency benefits tremendously. In the case of the dollar, the U.S. benefits from the increased demand for the dollar that the reserve currency status creates.
Other countries give the U.S. valuable goods in exchange for dollars issued by the Federal Reserve. They also lend the dollars they’ve accumulated back to the U.S. at low interest rates. Most significantly, the U.S. benefits from importing these goods and exporting its inflation to other countries in the form of depreciating dollars.”
Many is not a number or a trend.
I’d just like to point out that once again the focus of a posting, in this case the budget proposals of Paul Ryan as they may effect the poor in America, has been obscured through deflection by our guest, and currently primary blogger, Peak Trader. Rather than getting into the details of Paul Ryan’s contribution to issues concerning the budget and its relation to poverty programs, as discussed by Jonathan Chait and McKay Coppins, the thread is now off on a tangent concerning the trade balance, especially between the U.S. and China.
I suggest that this deflection of focus by the contributions of PK is intentional and intended to obscure the original purpose of Waldmann’s post, most likely because PK cannot provide any valid criticism of the points made in that post. So now we are on the tenth floor of Peak’s straw house and Robert’s topic is lost in the muddle.
Jack, I was responding to Beene’s comment that free trade causes poverty and debt, which isn’t true. Free trade raises living standards, both domestically and internationally, although the U.S. gains more than its trading partners. Countries with free trade policies tend to gain more than countries that restrict trade (e.g. through tariffs or other trade barriers).
I certainly don’t want a permanent poverty class. I’d like people to learn positive values from their parents, rather than grow up in a single mother household, watching TV all day, not working or attending school, spending money on drugs and drinking, comitting crimes, or when they get a job, injure themselves or others, or create property damage.
PT: wonderful for bankers&such but they do NOT comprise the bulk of the population who, as FACTS on the ground PROVE, suffer.
P.K., “I’d like people to learn positive values from their parents, rather than grow up in a single mother household, watching TV all day, not working or attending school, spending money on drugs and drinking, comitting crimes, or when they get a job, injure themselves or others, or create property damage.”
Is that your definition of poverty? Have you no clue at all regarding who the poor are and what their daily lives are like? You’ve been watching too much Fox News cable TV. Your imagined view of the activities of the poor is a cliche. The poor work two jobs if they’re lucky to have a job at all. They work for less than $10/hour, but they work. Their children go to schools that are under funded by the state governments that won’t tax those with significant wealth in order to provide educational opportunity for all of its citizens. The poor are too busy trying to put together a pay check at WalMart so they have no time to commit the crimes you would like to hold them all responsible for. You’ve got your stereotypes on display and it is abundantly clear that you have no idea of what a life of
Jack, you’re the one who doesn’t have a “clue.” Full-time work tends to lift people out of poverty, particularly the longer they work. And, poverty is often temporary. For example, when I was working full-time and paying for school full-time, I lived in poverty for a while.
Poverty in America: More than 46 Million below the Official Poverty Level, More than 10 Million “Working Poor”
“More than 46 million people, or about 15 percent of the US population, lived below the official poverty level in 2011, according to the US Census Bureau.
A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the “working poor” account for 10.4 million of this number.
More than 14 percent of the estimated 25 million part-time workers currently in the labor force are classified as working poor, according to the BLS, compared to 4.2 percent of full-time workers.”
Rescuing the American Dream: Culture’s Power to Reduce Poverty
Peter Wehner, Ethics and Public Policy Center – August 22, 2011
“Children who are raised in broken families are far more likely to drop out of high school, use drugs, commit violent crimes, have children outside of marriage, develop mental health problems, become homeless, drop out of the labor force, go on welfare, and experience poverty. Indeed, the poverty rate for single-parent families is almost six-times the rate for married-couple families.
“The best anti-poverty program for children is a stable, intact family,” according to former Clinton administration officials William Galston and Elaine Kamarck.
More than 40 percent of all births today are out-of-wedlock. America has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. By the age of eighteen, over half of American children have lived apart from their fathers for a significant portion of their childhood.”
Ah…then we should pass a law to make stable intact families mandatory.
” I lived in poverty for a while”
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, the ideology on the big screen is the only important thing going on here. Be sure to concentrate on all the smoke……………….
“The best anti-poverty program for children is a stable, intact family,” according to former Clinton administration officials William Galston and Elaine Kamarck.”
If a Clintonian hack says it, it must be true. Others might say, The best anti-poverty program for children is to assure that their mothers or fathers or both are paid a higher wage for the work that they do.
“More than 40 percent of all births today are out-of-wedlock. America has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. By the age of eighteen, over half of American children have lived apart from their fathers for a significant portion of their childhood.”
Which comes first, the poverty or the social instability? Take a guess.
And you left out some interesting quotes from that Global Research report you link to. For example, “Corporations, backed by the policies of the Obama administration and both big business parties, have seized on the jobs crisis in the wake of the recession to drive down workers’ wages and boost productivity.”
Also, “The 2013 federal poverty guideline (FPG) is already set absurdly low: $11,490 annually for an individual and $23,550 for a family of four. A worker as the sole earner in a four-member family would need to earn $11.32 an hour and work 40 hours a week to top the FPG. Many of the jobs created in the wake of the recession barely reach this hourly rate, and occupations expected to see the most growth in the coming period will pay even less.”
And you left out, “More than 14 percent of the estimated 25 million part-time workers currently in the labor force are classified as working poor, according to the BLS, compared to 4.2 percent of full-time workers.”
You’ve the right report, but you’ve ignored the details. That is sometimes called “cherry picking” the data to buttress a weak argument.
And finally from Pew Research we read that a significant percentage of those cited as “the poor” still come from the ranks of the aged, though not as much as in the past. “Far fewer elderly are poor: In 1966, 28.5% of Americans ages 65 and over were poor; by 2012 just 9.1% were. There were 1.2 million fewer elderly poor in 2012 than in 1966, despite the doubling of the total elderly population. Researchers generally credit this steep drop to Social Security, particularly the expansion and inflation-indexing of benefits during the 1970s.” To summarize this small part of the data, a bit more than 9% of the poor are too old to work, and thank goodness for Social Security.
So, in a nut shell, you still haven’t provided any evidence that being poor is no one’s fault, but the poor themselves, which you earlier tried to imply was the case.
Rescuing the American Dream: Culture’s Power to Reduce Poverty
Peter Wehner, Ethics and Public Policy Center – August 22, 2011
Note, it may be of interest to note that the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the “bipartisan” think tank that Mr. Wehner is associated with, lists amongst its members of its Policy Advisory Board one Willam Kristol. http://www.eppc.org/about/policy-advisory-board/. Is that real the best source of unbiased scholarship that is available on the issue of the social consequences of poverty? The quote attributed to Mr. Wehner tells us nothing about the causes of poverty and only lists a variety of possible consequences of social disenfranchisement. And it sounds very much like something that that other social scholar, Archie Bunker, might have noted about forty years ago.
Thanks for clearing up the smoke, Jack.