The $10,000 SolutionA friend sent me a link to this opinion piece by Charles Murray in the LA Times the other day. It's just the sort of thing I like to yap about, so here are my thoughts. Murray begins:
SUPPOSE WE assume people on the other side of the political divide are not hateful, not bent on destroying America, but are instead, by and large, decent and sensible humans. Assuming that's the case — and really it is — then a thought must occur to all but the fringes: If so many decent and sensible people believe X with that much conviction, there must be something worth thinking about in their position.

Yes, we should certainly be able to sit down and discuss important ideas without resorting to personal attacks and irrational blather. The problem is that when we get down to it, we often realize that our differences are more than semantic. We usually differ on the fundamentals; such as the role of government, the value of self-reliance, the importance of responsibility, etc. But let's give it a try.
in a country as rich as the United States, everyone should have access to a decent standard of living. When the left has wanted to redistribute money to compensate the most unlucky, its heart has been in the right place.

The problem I have with the left is that they usually don't distinguish between "access" to a decent standard of living and a decent standard of living. The assumption is that if I'm poor, the man is keeping me down. Obviously if I had the same opportunities as you, then I'd be just as successful. The left doesn't leave room for the possibility that I might just a lazy pathetic ass. Maybe I was too busy playing football or video games in high school--while you were studying to get into to college. Maybe while you were struggling to pay for your education, I said the hell with school, Taco Bell is hiring. Maybe you held off on having children until you had some job security and I couldn't keep my dick in my pants and now I'm on government assistance because Taco Bell doesn't offer health isurance. Nevertheless, gimme my money— or should I say, your money.
Now for those of you on the left, does the following resonate? You know that in your own life, a decent standard of living has not been enough. Our deepest satisfactions come from what we have made of ourselves. Making something of life requires being allowed to make mistakes, learning from them and — over time, with false starts — working our way into valued places through our employment, our families or our communities.

Hmm, can't argue with that. Murray suggests we end all current forms of welfare and just give everyone over age 21 $10,000 a year. He includes some numbers to show that it will cost a lot at first, but eventually be cheaper than the current system and better for those that need it most.

For example, today in California, a family with two parents and one child that earns just $10,000 is eligible for only about $8,000 in government cash and in-kind benefits plus Medicaid, if they successfully navigate all the hoops (and many do not) that the bureaucracies put them through. I am proposing instead to give all of those families a $20,000 check. A single woman with a child? She won't have to rely merely on her $10,000. The father, if he is identified and alive, would now have a known income stream coming into a known bank account that any judge could tap with a court order.

I like the part where he suggest ending all government aid programs, especially those for the rich corporations. But then he loses me again when he suggests we give large sums of cash to everybody for no good reason. The American dream is supposed to be all about rugged individualism. We live in one of the most free societies on the planet. Every American citizen has plenty of opportunities to make something of their lives. But opportunities don't take advantage of themselves.

Do some people have it easier than others? Yes, but that too is part of life. Should we do more to better fund our schools and ensure every child gets equal access to a quality education? Yes. And we could do that if we'd just stop wasting so much money on thousands of other bloated government programs. We could probably reduce our defense spending a measly few percent and solve all our education problems.

Bottom line, let's assure everyone has an opportunity to succeed. But at the same time we have to remember that some people are going to fail. And it isn't our fault. Freedom means freedom to fail as well as succeed. Now stop robinhooding and start getting real. Anyway, American Idol is starting now, so I have to get going.