Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Walter Williams Book Review

Walter Williams reviews Edgar K. Browning's new book "Stealing from Each Other: How the Welfare State Robs Americans of Money and Spirit". In the review he shows that government transfers of money cost the economy 25% of GDP -- in other words, we should have an $18 trillion, not a $14 trillion, economy. The bottom 10% makes up to $10,500 in the U.S. If we assume everyone's income goes up 25% (meaning the rich get richer in absolute terms), then that $10,500 goes up to $13,125. I suspect it would go up more than that, simply because the disincentives to working welfare provides -- and which keep the bottom 10% with this little money -- would be gone. A full-time job at $6.25 a year makes you $12,500 a year before taxes (which you would get back at the end of the year anyway). And if everyone had to work, because they weren't getting welfare, that would eliminate the voluntary unemployed (the unvoluntary unemployed don't typically remain unemployed for long), thus making for a smaller supply of available workers, which would drive up wages. All of which is prevented by transfer payments.

In other words, crime contributes to keeping people in poverty. It doesn't matter if the thieves are gangs or government.
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