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-   -   Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=5059)

paagle 03-23-2010 07:45 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
A friend of mine had an alarm clock that looked like a little basketball. To snooze you had to hit it with enough impact (not much). The idea is you throw it off the wall and then it rolls away and the next time you have to get up and find it. I loved that thing, although I can imagine it going under the bed and becoming muted enough to ignore. Or worse, hitting something fragile. But still, I'd love to find another one.

listener 03-23-2010 08:18 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Not knowing diddley about economics, I found this dv to be pretty tough going at times, but it was definitely worth it for me to stick with it. I was especially impressed with the discussion of how economic and other stresses parents go through affect their ability to be good parents, and Sendhil's emphasis on the utility of empathy rather than the self-righteous finger-pointing that seems to dominate the current discourse on the subject of poor single parents. I was very heartened to hear two economists talking in this way!

That discussion reminded me of the time I was walking down the street and saw a mother screaming at her young son, a belt in her hand, threatening to whip him with it. I lashed out angrily at the mother and got into a yelling match with her, but as I walked away I felt despair at the inadequacy, and perhaps even the counterproductiveness, of my actions. In my mind, I had self-righteously demonized the mother. Sendhil's perspective about having empathy for what may have driven the mother to such violence (without excusing her for it) may have enabled me to have found a more effective (or at least less exacerbating) response to the situation.

bjkeefe 03-24-2010 12:17 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 155556)
Huh? Weird dreams are an incentive? Go figure!

Oh hell yeah. I shouldn't have said "legal high." "Free trip" would have been better.

bjkeefe 03-24-2010 12:30 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dee Sharp (Post 155559)
A person can get into a situation where body heat is a critically scarce resource. [...]

Like Jeff, I don't think the analogy works, either. For one thing, trekking in the mountains is an activity of choice, and to the extent that people like you and me find it appealing because of its wilderness aspects, it is reasonable not to want to make it over so much so that it becomes as tame as a city park. By contrast, living day to day in dire straits, or on the edge of them, is not usually much of a matter of choice. I'll grant that some people do make some stupid decisions, are lazy, etc., but it really isn't fair to portray the bulk of people living below the poverty line as having had much say in their situation.

listener 03-24-2010 12:39 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 155612)
Like Jeff, I don't think the analogy works, either. For one thing, trekking in the mountains is an activity of choice, and to the extent that people like you and me find it appealing because of its wilderness aspects, it is reasonable not to want to make it over so much so that it becomes as tame as a city park. By contrast, living day to day in dire straits, or on the edge of them, is not usually much of a matter of choice. I'll grant that some people do make some stupid decisions, are lazy, etc., but it really isn't fair to portray the bulk of people living below the poverty line as having had much say in their situation.

Yes, it seems to me that the distinction between making a risky choice (going hiking in an untamed wilderness) and being thrust into a dire situation (house burned down), or being born into one, is significant.

grits-n-gravy 03-24-2010 01:06 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 155545)
Well they were not correct, structures do matter, the problem with many of the blunt tools liberals used in the past was was that the policies were so divorced from realities of human behavior and incentives it often caused worse results.

If you are going to get all interventionist, at least try and do so based on methods tied to human psychology and cognition, not based off false assumptions about reality and what will get people to a better place. Subsistence is not progress, why so many "progressives" were content with that is beyond me.

Maybe you can explain how Great Society programs like Job Corp, Upward Bound, Head Start, etc. are "divorced from the realities of human behavior and incentives"? What are these "many . . . tools" you're referring to?

bjkeefe 03-24-2010 01:47 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 155620)
What are these "many . . . tools" you're referring to?

Giving Cadillacs to welfare queens and T-bone steaks to young bucks, I imagine. Totally failed, because now we have global warming and an obesity epidemic.

grits-n-gravy 03-24-2010 02:44 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 155626)
Giving Cadillacs to welfare queens and T-bone steaks to young bucks, I imagine. Totally failed, because now we have global warming and an obesity epidemic.

lol! I was imagining food stamps, government cheese, and subsidized housing projects.

ledocs 03-24-2010 08:22 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
I'll chime in on the idea that Loury is a very good diavlogger. He's good in all combinations. One of the things that's particularly good about him is that he tries to formulate things in a coherent and formal way, he tries to make sure that the conversation goes somewhere, in the sense that at the end there is at least a well-formulated question or two, but he also "keeps it real." He's someone who is on the lookout for hypocrisy everywhere, including in himself.

look 03-24-2010 11:17 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 155629)
lol! I was imagining food stamps, government cheese, and subsidized housing projects.

That's a real knee-slapper, B.

I think Jon meant the situation in which women could only get certain benefits if single, thereby down-playing the importance of having a husband, which in turn lead to more single mothers and a lot of playuh dads, all to the detriment of the kids.

Added: Also, segregating the poor into the projects was a poor move.

grits-n-gravy 03-24-2010 01:03 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 155681)
That's a real knee-slapper, B.

I think Jon meant the situation in which women could only get certain benefits if single, thereby down-playing the importance of having a husband, which in turn lead to more single mothers and a lot of playuh dads, all to the detriment of the kids.

Added: Also, segregating the poor into the projects was a poor move.

Certain aspects of the welfare system were not well thought out, that much is true. I just don't know why Jon thought it necessary to use it as a typical example of how 'liberal' programs and policies are divorced from the social realities of poor folk.

claymisher 03-24-2010 01:59 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 155695)
Certain aspects of the welfare system were not well thought out, that much is true. I just don't know why Jon thought it necessary to use it as a typical example of how 'liberal' programs and policies are divorced from the social realities of poor folk.

The 1990s were all about revamping liberal ideas that hadn't worked and coming up with better ways to achieve the same basic goals. Washington Monthly, TNR, The American Prospect, etc ran hundreds of articles about poverty traps and making work pay. In the Clinton years we had welfare reform, major expansion of the EITC, and shifting public housing from warehousing to vouchers. Anybody who says it's back to the 1970s again hasn't been paying attention to the last 20+ years of progressive thinking (Not all of this was great; see Kausism). With guys like Mullainathan doing important basic research it's only going to get better.

JonIrenicus 03-26-2010 12:19 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 155620)
Maybe you can explain how Great Society programs like Job Corp, Upward Bound, Head Start, etc. are "divorced from the realities of human behavior and incentives"? What are these "many . . . tools" you're referring to?

people already posted examples, but here is another snippet



http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010...rss-topstories

Here is a sampling written by Joe Klein about Moynihans resistance from liberal circles when talking about the role of the breakdown of the black family as it related to outcomes.

I have some experience with a party intent on committing suicide. The Democrats were profoundly self-destructive when it came to race and crime in the 1970s and 1980s. They nearly excommunicated Daniel Patrick Moynihan--one of my mentors--because he told the truth about the impact of out-of-wedlock births on the black family. Over time, Moynihan's thesis was proved by sociology--and supported by prominent AFrican-American progressive scholars like William Julius Wilson--but he was never really welcomed back into the fold. And he didn't really care. Because he knew he was right.



Let's not "blame the victim" as Glenn might put it. As if a finding that said the source of problems was internal is not an acceptable finding, lets look elsewhere... and if that is where a major source of the problem lies?

Personally, I don't care who is blamed, just give the correct and full diagnosis, wherever it lands, then try to fix it. If the source is primarily the "victim" then we need to know that too, no held punches, anything less is spinning out wheels and not getting at root problems.



If it makes you feel any better I think liberals are much better at this today than they were in decades past, they have learned. Not completely, most people have not gone there completely, but it's a start.

grits-n-gravy 03-26-2010 11:17 AM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 156017)
people already posted examples, but here is another snippet



http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010...rss-topstories

Here is a sampling written by Joe Klein about Moynihans resistance from liberal circles when talking about the role of the breakdown of the black family as it related to outcomes.

I have some experience with a party intent on committing suicide. The Democrats were profoundly self-destructive when it came to race and crime in the 1970s and 1980s. They nearly excommunicated Daniel Patrick Moynihan--one of my mentors--because he told the truth about the impact of out-of-wedlock births on the black family. Over time, Moynihan's thesis was proved by sociology--and supported by prominent AFrican-American progressive scholars like William Julius Wilson--but he was never really welcomed back into the fold. And he didn't really care. Because he knew he was right.

If I understand the point of this quote, you are implying welfare benefits were a significant cause of out-of-wedlock births in black communities. This view has long been debunked, though I'm sure there are some conservatives still deluded about it. You need another example of a liberal policy that is "divorced from realities of human behavior and incentives" because that one ain't cuttin' it.

look 03-26-2010 11:49 AM

grits and clay
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 155704)
The 1990s were all about revamping liberal ideas that hadn't worked and coming up with better ways to achieve the same basic goals. Washington Monthly, TNR, The American Prospect, etc ran hundreds of articles about poverty traps and making work pay. In the Clinton years we had welfare reform, major expansion of the EITC, and shifting public housing from warehousing to vouchers. Anybody who says it's back to the 1970s again hasn't been paying attention to the last 20+ years of progressive thinking (Not all of this was great; see Kausism). With guys like Mullainathan doing important basic research it's only going to get better.

What do you think of the rescinding of welfare reform in the 2009 stimulus bill? At the time it was being discussed, I recall reading an article discussing why Clinton's reform worked. My main recollection was that it was psychologically beneficial for those out of work to just get out of the house to meet with their case worker or unemployment counselor. The jobless would often be depressed or have low self-esteem, and talking with the officials and then going out on interviews would improve their emotional outlook, and of course, they would be pleasantly surprised and gratified when they landed a job.

As I understand the welfare provisions in the stimulus bill, states are now being rewarded again for increasing welfare rolls (with welfare reform, that had been eliminated; states were given a flat rate, rather than more money for more enrollees). If I understand it correctly, the federal government will now pay 80% of the tab of each enrollee.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/...m_appreci.html

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=971_1234850301

JonIrenicus 03-26-2010 01:52 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 156082)
If I understand the point of this quote, you are implying welfare benefits were a significant cause of out-of-wedlock births in black communities. This view has long been debunked, though I'm sure there are some conservatives still deluded about it. You need another example of a liberal policy that is "divorced from realities of human behavior and incentives" because that one ain't cuttin' it.


It is not that out of wedlock births were caused by welfare benefits, it's more that the reason more people were candidates for welfare to begin with had to do in part with a breakdown of the family, a rise in single motherhood etc.

That welfare was a "solution" that did not attack the core dysfunction. It was at best a bandaid, a subsistence measure, not a cure.

grits-n-gravy 03-26-2010 04:23 PM

Re: Communitas: Rethinking Scarcity (Glenn Loury & Sendhil Mullainathan)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 156103)
It is not that out of wedlock births were caused by welfare benefits, it's more that the reason more people were candidates for welfare to begin with had to do in part with a breakdown of the family, a rise in single motherhood etc.

That welfare was a "solution" that did not attack the core dysfunction. It was at best a bandaid, a subsistence measure, not a cure.

Joe Klein is dead wrong when he suggests William J. Wilson's work affirmed Moynihan's thesis. Moynihan essentially gave empirical support for a culture of poverty thesis, which Wilson's research flatly rejects. So if you're talking about what causes people to need welfare in the first place then we're back to structures and how the poor's attempt to negotiate those structures often reinforces them. The payday loan scheme is a good example of how this structure and agency dynamic sometimes plays itself out. Are payday loans divorced from the human behavioral realities and incentives of poor folk?

benben 03-30-2010 02:02 PM

Payday Lending
 
The discussion around payday lending is interesting. I did not realize that 8-10% of income for the poor is eaten up by late fees, reconnect fees, payday loans etc. This is significant.

It seems to me this suggests employers should be made aware of this fact and encouraged to provide advances to employees to help alleviate this. It seems a simple way to improve the lives of employees and make them happier and more productive workers.

As a business owner, I have always had a policy that an employee can ask for an advance on any wages earned before payday and I will provide. So if a week into a two week pay period an employee needs an advance of a couple hundred dollars, I have always thought it fair to advance them any amount up to approximately what they had already earned since the last payday. It is simple to write them a check marked "payday advance" and then have your payroll company withhold that amount from after tax earnings in their next paycheck. The cost is about 5 minutes of accounting in Quickbooks and payroll records.

That anecdote is not to toot my own horn, but to point out that there is a relatively easy way to help workers and the poor avoid some of their trips to the payday lender, overdraft fees, etc and associated non-virtuous cycle. But I had never really thought of it in those terms till watching this.

listener 03-30-2010 05:42 PM

Re: Payday Lending
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by benben (Post 156826)
The discussion around payday lending is interesting. I did not realize that 8-10% of income for the poor is eaten up by late fees, reconnect fees, payday loans etc. This is significant.

It seems to me this suggests employers should be made aware of this fact and encouraged to provide advances to employees to help alleviate this. It seems a simple way to improve the lives of employees and make them happier and more productive workers.

As a business owner, I have always had a policy that an employee can ask for an advance on any wages earned before payday and I will provide. So if a week into a two week pay period an employee needs an advance of a couple hundred dollars, I have always thought it fair to advance them any amount up to approximately what they had already earned since the last payday. It is simple to write them a check marked "payday advance" and then have your payroll company withhold that amount from after tax earnings in their next paycheck. The cost is about 5 minutes of accounting in Quickbooks and payroll records.

That anecdote is not to toot my own horn, but to point out that there is a relatively easy way to help workers and the poor avoid some of their trips to the payday lender, overdraft fees, etc and associated non-virtuous cycle. But I had never really thought of it in those terms till watching this.


That makes SO much sense. Is there a way of promulgating that practice more widely in the business community?


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