Liberals are often said to be bleeding hearts and though our goals may be admirable we’re told our proposed programs and policies are impractical, too expensive, counter-productive or all of the above. The truth is that our empathy and gut instinct to do right by our fellow man is in fact not just morally righteous, but also practical, cost effective and productive. A fine example of this dichotomy of views is public assistance generally known as welfare.
Studies done around the world show that insuring that children are adequately fed and clothed via cash public assistance to the family can increase working hours and earnings, particularly when the beneficiaries are required to attend classes that teach specific trades or general business skills. Welfare isn’t just morally righteous it is an investment in the health and future careers of low-income kids.
In a recent paper from researchers at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago the results of a Mexican program called Prospera, the world’s first conditional cash-transfer system, were analyzed. The program provides money to poor families on the condition that they send their children to school and go to the doctor regularly and stay current on vaccinations.
By matching up data from Prospera with data about households’ incomes the researchers were able to analyze the program’s effect on children several decades after they started receiving benefits. They found that young people who participate in the program for seven years usually completed three more years of education and were 37 percent more likely to have a job. Prospera beneficiaries grew up to become adults who worked nine more hours each week on average than similar poor children who didn’t participate in the program. On top of that they also earned higher hourly wages.
This is important for the United States in particular right now when the Republican Party is on a bender to reduce public assistance of all kinds including those programs like Medicaid which benefit poor children. Republicans make a lot of dubious claims about the connection between public benefits and non-working adults but the evidence proves they’re wrong. Of course, facts don’t seem to matter to Republicans all that much, particularly when they contradict core revealed “knowledge” spouted by their authority figures. It doesn’t seem to matter that the agenda of those authority figures is driven by the wealthy campaign donors and the corporations who will employ them once they have left congress.
It isn’t just Mexico where providing the basics goes beyond addressing immediate concerns, American adults whose mothers received prenatal coverage under Medicaid have lower rates of obesity, higher rates of high-school graduation, and higher incomes than those from similar households who were ineligible for Medicaid. Other research has shown that children covered by Medicaid expansions went on to earn higher wages and require less welfare assistance as adults than similarly situated children who didn't get those benefits. Recent research from the University of Pennsylvania on people in Canada and the United States shows that even basic-income plans encourage people to either continue working or go back to school to improve their skills.
All this shows that the conservative claims that public benefits are too expensive is just short term thinking. In reality it’s much less costly to provide benefits now because those children will grow up to earn their own living and thus pay taxes than it is to leave them destitute during their formative years and have the public suffer the effects of too many unskilled people with no hope of ever earning a living for themselves and their families.
Mozilla pulls ads from Facebook over Cambridge Analytica controversy - Internet software company Mozilla says it’s “pressing pause” on Facebook advertising in the wake of the massive Cambridge Analytica scandal that has plague...
9 minutes ago