Welfare, Innumeracy & Respect

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Sun Oct 11 17:48:46 PDT 1998

>> Unfortunately Barbara Ehrenreich's... pea-sized brain is too small
>This is totally unnecessary and downright ugly. I agree with both Max's
>point and your qualified rebuttal, Brad. But what's the point of this
>gratuitous attack on Ehrenreich? The inability to disagree in a
>measured and constructive fashion is something we all need to work on.
>For my money Ehrenriech is a very thoughtful and provocative writer.
>This doesn't mean she's always right, and in this case I clearly think
>she's wrong in a number of ways, but even if I didn't think so highly of
>her this kind of mud-slinging would be uncalled for.

You are right. I apologize to any fans of Ehrenreich out there. It was uncalled for.

But I did find her _Nation_ piece terribly depressing to read--in large part because she *is* about as good as the left gets these days.

The underlying point seemsed to be that because we don't have the (feeble) social democracy that we had in the 1970s, we shouldn't try to defend (and expand) the new deal. That instead we should demonstrate against injustice, and refuse to support or defend the government as an engine of taxing and spending.

Now I think that new deal programs are still a pretty powerful engine of income redistribution. And I think that deciding that "the state" (which I understand to mean unemployment insurance, food stamps, TANF, and a progressive income tax) is no longer worth defending leaves open a lot of territory in which Hoover and Cato can wreak a lot of damage...

Brad DeLong

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