More families used food stamps this past Thanksgiving than ever in history, while Congress is pushing to extend benefits — again — for the longterm unemployed.
But what if such aid isn’t helping us weather the recession, but instead prolonging it?
The White House, and other believers in Keynesian policy refer to subsidies to the unemployed, poor and financially distressed as “automatic stabilizers” and insist that subsidies have a large positive effect on national income.
Yet when the subsidy spigots were opened wide in 2008 and 2009, labor market activity contracted sharply, and stubbornly refuses to rebound.
It is time to reconsider the old-school economic idea that paying people to be unemployed reduces employment. The more we pay poor people, the more poor people we will have. The more we help people and institutions in financial distress, the more financial distress there will be.