A nephew starts from a base of “I consider myself pretty liberal, and a relatively big proponent of the welfare state.” (this is fortunate because he has embarked on a career in Silicon Valley where the labor shortage is not so severe that a company would knowingly employ a Trump supporter!)
The other day, however, he wondered if unlimited unskilled immigration can be consistent with America’s welfare state, a thoughtcrime most famously committed by Milton Friedman. He linked to this article from Atlantic about how Americans are happy to sit on the sofa and play Xbox if the government gives them free housing, food, health care, and Obamaphones.
A discussion among his friends, most of whom are Millennial Harvard graduates, ensued. A planned economy was popular, e.g., with “If employers were required to pay minimum benefits like living wage and health care to their employees, then the need for welfare reduces. … To stay competitive globally we require the same for overseas exporters, raising quality of life globally.”
The most interesting response:
I think ‘welfare system’ is poorly defined in this case. my hypothesis is that poor people would not leave the workforce if US welfare included mental health service, or in maybe more numbers based terms, whatever correlation there is between social services and high unemployment there is for the poor, there might be an alternate cause (emotional) that could be better served by actual better social services (mental health based)
This is from a woman approaching 30 with a STEM degree from Harvard. I was curious about her reasoning:
Medicaid (taxpayer-funded health care for the poor) does include mental health coverage. “Medicaid is the single largest payer in the United States for behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use services. Medicaid accounted for 26 percent of behavioral health spending in 2009.” (source)
With tens of billions being spent by Medicaid each year on “behavior health and mental health ” services, what makes you say that U.S. welfare does not include “mental health service”? Is it that you don’t think Medicaid qualifies as “welfare”? That what they purchase with these tens of billions is not truly “mental health service”? Or something else?
I don’t know — do you know what exactly that is? Not trolling — is it neighborhood clinics? Earmarked for nonprofits? I thought Medicaid only applied to people over 65 or with qualified disabilities
In other words, one of the most expensively educated Americans who will ever go to the polls is unaware of a government program that consumes $565 billion per year (cms.gov), roughly 3 percent of GDP.
- Canvassing for Elizabeth Warren (a 55-year-old politically active Massachusetts voter who was unaware of the existence of Medicaid)