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April 22, 2013

DOOM: It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop


One of the most pernicious aspects of the chronic unemployment rampant during the Great Depression was that it took many people (mostly men) out of the workforce permanently. Many men simply became unsuited for making a living, and this in turn prevented them from forming families or even becoming a part of normal society. The same pattern is appearing now, and it is a cause for grave concern. Chronic unemployment isn't just a hit to the economy; it attacks the very fabric of society.

The simplistic approach to this problem is to demand that the government create jobs ex nihilo, but this almost never works in practice. Besides being wasteful of tax dollars and of limited use in actually reducing unemployment, these types of programs also tend to cultivate a sense of cynicism in the workers themselves. FDR's various make-work schemes were a perfect example of this. (The old joke about the WPA was that it stood for "We Piddle Around".)

Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the war our government is waging on its own young people.

Richard Epstein: "Down with sick leave!"

Japan's demographic implosion is accelerating. The demographic and economic decline of Japan is going to be one of the biggest stories of our age, I think. I hope the historians draw the correct lessons.

The UKIP's Nigel Farage resorts to a level of honest dialogue about the Euro that many Europeans are uncomfortable with.

Detroit, Stockton...and now Philadelphia.

How the welfare state serves the strong rather than the weak. If you turn people into thralls to an overbearing state, you hold power over them. A nation of free men offers too few opportunities for the exercise of this kind of power; much better to have docile sheep who will stand still to be sheared.

Progressives love to trot out the Scandinavian countries as positive examples when challenged on the sustainability of the modern welfare state. However, it turns out that even the Scandinavians are not immune from reality. The Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians aren't that much different than anyone else when it comes to human nature: if you pay people not to work, they're not going to work. As the welfare state sinks its tendrils ever deeper into the body politic, working for a living begins to seem like a chump's game to the able-bodied citizens still laboring in the private sector.

The most ruinous cost of the welfare state isn't the drain on the treasury, or the burdens it puts on the productive members of society. It is the rot it generates in the civic virtue of the citizenry. Which brings us back to the United States, and the ruinous effects of unemployment in the age of the welfare state: government aid can be a deadly trap that takes many able-bodied workers out of the economy forever.

UPDATE: As the ObamaCare ship takes on water and begins a pronounced list to starboard, the rats are scrambling for the exits.

junkyard cat david lee thompson[1]

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posted by Monty at 08:32 AM

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