MARRIAGE and FAMILY, EDUCATION, WELFARE, IMMIGRATION
A good democracy must have a critical mass of intelligent, informed and responsible citizens who are interested in the public welfare. Several demographic trends are decreasing the proportion of such citizens in the United States. The average birth rate of less intelligent citizens is higher than that of the more intelligent and our present immigration is lowering the skill level of our population.
If the majority of citizens become dependent on government the principle on which democratic government is based is violated. Votes are then bought based on group interest rather than on the general welfare. Social policies wisely conceived will take this into consideration.
Marriage and Family
The decline of marriage (as the normative institution for raising children) is one of the greatest threats to the future of America. Marriage is the most critical institution for raising and training responsible citizens. Government policies intended to make it easier to raise children outside of marriage have proved to be socially destructive and have produced generational poverty.
Note: All government social, education and tax policies should be periodically analyzed to try to estimate their impact on marriage and family. Government policy should be structured to encourage, or at a minimum not discourage, marriage for child raising.
A successful country must have a good education system, ideally one that is locally controlled. It should follow sound, proven educational principles and focus on those subjects most useful for functioning effectively in a modern economy and on those which educate for responsible citizenship.
A good society must have an effective means of educating its children and the more successful a society is in educating the better its economy will do and the more likely a continuation of sound government.
No country has become great without developing a sense of patriotism and no country has long remained great after it has ceased to educate its children in the traditions and principles responsible for its greatness, and to instill in them an appreciation of their value. Few things are more important than giving our children an understanding of the value of our system of government, of which governing principles are of greatest value, and of how countries lose their spirit and decline.
Note: The cost of education should be tax deductible.
The high birthrates of the lowest skilled, least intelligent and most dependent members of our society have been subsidized by government transfers provided by poorly designed social policy. The combination of AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, and EITC has virtually destroyed the American low-income nuclear family by subsidizing illegitimacy and making it (at least initially) seem uneconomic for low-income parents of children to get married or stay married.
Considering AFDC, food stamps, Medicaid, EITC, etc., it can cost a typical low-income, unmarried father and mother with two children thousands of dollars a year in loss of subsidy if they marry. Illegitimacy drives crime rates, school dropout rates, drug use rates, and social dysfunction generally. The future of democracy is in doubt if these trends of increasing illegitimacy continue for several more decades. They can be gradually reversed by properly redesigned government policy.
Note: A universal basic income could work if designed right were it not such an irresistible temptation to politicians to expand. Charles Murray’s book, In Our Hands: a Plan to Replace the Welfare State, shows how it can be designed right and explains the tremendous benefits from such a system properly designed. For our low income population it would eliminate the substantial economic disincentive for marriage and reverse the economic incentive for out of wedlock births. So designed, if continued for several decades, it could be a boon to our nation’s social cohesion and a brake on our currently unsustainable fiscal trajectory. It should replace all public assistance for the non-handicapped and should not be enough to live on, so would require someone to work, at least part time, or get some assistance from family. It should gradually phase out as earned income increases. A well designed wage supplement alternative would work about the same way and have the advantage of requiring work to get it.
The fatal flaw in either concept is that, as with all entitlements and transfers (some people being taxed to provide benefits to others), in a democratic system where everyone has a vote and everyone’s vote counts equally, the irresistible temptation for politicians is to legislate increasing transfers (entitlements) and increasingly progressive tax rates until a financially unsustainable trajectory is achieved.
It is demographically damaging (and extremely foolish as government policy) to permit the immigration of unskilled, poorly educated workers, both legal and illegal, while simultaneously severely restricting the immigration of highly intelligent and skilled individuals. The future of our country is wholly dependent on the quality of our future population; a country cannot long continue as a successful democracy without a reasonably large base of responsible and intelligent citizenry.
If open immigration were allowed and encouraged worldwide, the logical conclusion would be to equalize economies and living conditions all over the world because people would continuingly immigrate to the more desirable locations.
As a precondition for designing immigration policy demographic trends should be analyzed for how they affect the economy and the character and politics of the country, taking into account the relationship between specific immigration flows and social support, welfare, etc. policies.
Immigration policy cannot be intelligently designed without breaking down immigration flows discretely so that for high skilled and low skilled immigrant populations the benefits and burdens (to the public welfare) of each group are examined historically and projected into the future.
Immigration trends could be improved with a well-designed special employment tax (an inflation adjusted dollar amount per immigrant worker – not a percentage of wages) added to FICA that discouraged low-skilled immigration but made employment of larger numbers of high-skilled immigrants feasible. The free market modified by a properly designed guest-worker special payroll tax could control immigration flows far more rationally and effectively than current policy.