Policy Shop Weekly Digest: Disability Insurance, Desert

I had 2 posts over at Demos’ Policy Shop this week. Here is a rundown with links:

The Latest Social Insurance Freak Out. Excerpt:

The lesson here is, as always, don’t believe the goofy hype any time one of these social insurance stories catches fire. It is the same reheated nonsense again and again driven, not by any real concern for social programs, but by a rather transparent political agenda.

The Wailing of the 1 Percent and Its Defenders. Excerpt:

What’s interesting about this big move by Binswanger is that it concedes that processes, innovations, knowledge, technology and so on prop up all incomes, even those that have nothing to do with their creation. But if we take that understanding to its logical desert theory end, it actually generates the conclusion that every single person is a massive net moocher on generations of people long dead. I did not make electricity technology, but it makes me way richer. I did not make algebra, but it makes me way richer. Same goes for calculus, physics, engineering principles, and all the rest of it. If it is the case that we are not entitled to the increment of our income that is owing to technologies and accumulated knowledge we did not ourselves create, then the majority of everyone’s income does not belong to them. It belongs to people who are dead.

So what does desert theory do about the increment of production that is the result of the intellectual labor of people who are not alive, which it so happens is probably the majority of income we generate each year? We can’t give it back because the would-be recipients are gone. Seems like the next obvious answer is to give it to everyone. Since no one person has any particular claim to it, it only seems fair that we enjoy it equally. And if that’s the case, then the 1 percent is making out like a bandit right now.