Can we Do without a Social Safety Net?

It appears that the Trump administration and at least a portion of elected republicans would answer “yes”.   Does this have any basis in reality?

It might if the private sector was able to provide a decent life for all. You might think of this as a “private sector paradise”. In this paradise, anyone who cannot make it has no one but himself or herself to blame. Perhaps they are not “tough” enough.

Of course, this is not the world we live in today. _The private sector provides lots of jobs, but not decent lives for all. Will things get better?  I know of no one who thinks that they will. If anything, the middle class will get more squeezed as automation changes the nature of work.

So clearly, some sort of governmental policy mix is needed for folks who are displaced and frozen out of leading a decent life. What would that policy mix look like`? Richard Florida offers a glimpse. His policy recommendation has 7 components.

  • Make clustering work for us (with a land value tax)
  • invest in infrastructure for density and growth(heavy emphasis on public transport)
  • build more affordable rental housing
  • turn low-wage service jobs into middle-class work
  • tackle poverty by investing in people and places

 

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