Privatization and demutualization. A concise explanation of the efficiency gains of health insurance and public pensions, from Canadian philosopher Joseph Heath. Heath points out that the "social safety net" provides tremendous gains from risk-pooling, completely separate from redistribution or reduced inequality. [more inside]
“If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food.” Food stamp assistance in the US will be cut by $5 billion this Friday. Among those affected by the cuts, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are 22 million children and 9 million seniors and people with disabilities.
"The government’s plans for deficit reduction have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis. While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
On Monday, the British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, made a rather rash claim on BBC Radio 4. Hijinks ensue. 'Duncan Smith came under pressure after he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday that he could live on £53 ($81/week) after he was asked about a market trader, David Bennett, who claimed that he had to live on that amount after his housing benefit was cut. "If I had to, I would," Duncan Smith replied." ' from The Guardian. Since then a petition has started challenging him to try it. Petition has gathered 440,133 signatures in 5 days. Original report. There is a secondary petition going: this one is guaranteed to be debated in Parliament if it gets 100,000 signatures. [more inside]
Or, why is there still socialism in the United States?
Why, then, would we look for evidence of socialism only where a state seized by radicals of the Left inaugurates a dictatorship of the proletariat? Or, to lower the rhetorical volume and evidentiary stakes, why would we expect to find socialism only where avowed socialists or labor parties contend for state power? We should instead assume that socialism, like capitalism, is a cross-class cultural construction, to which even the bourgeoisie has already made significant contributions – just as the proletariat has long made significant contributions to the cross-class construction we know as capitalism. What follows?
The prime minister has suggested that people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, as part of moves to cut the welfare bill. Scrapping the benefit for that age group would save almost £2bn a year. via BBC News. Comments sortable and worth reading. [more inside]
"As far back as the 1800s, single mothers were receiving benefits. At that time, they would be paid up front and in cash, but were they better off than today?" [via] [Spoiler Inside] [more inside]
[E]ven if you are unemployed you still receive a base amount of [vacation money] from the government, the reasoning being that if you can’t go on vacation, you’ll get depressed and despondent and you’ll never get a job.After a year and a half of living in the Netherlands, American writer Russell Shorto compares the Dutch "welfare state" to the tax, health care and social security systems of the United States.
But does the cartoon image of [the Dutch system] — encapsulated in the dread slur "socialism," which is being lobbed in American political circles like a bomb — match reality? Is there, maybe, a significant upside that is worth exploring? [...] I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits might fit.