Off the Dole
In your forum on welfare reform ("Working on Welfare," Apr.), I was disappointed to see so little consensus among the policy experts about what to do. While we wait for consensus, I suggest a simple compromise: End welfare for new recipients, but keep it in place for current recipients. Grandfathering in existing welfare recipients would be an admission of mistakes made by the government when it designed the welfare system. Those who joined the welfare rolls were only responding to the perverse incentives set up by the government. In a very real sense they were doing exactly what the government told them to.
I was also disappointed by Charles Murray's endorsement of unemployment insurance. He ignores what Henry Hazlitt called the "one lesson" of economics, that you must look "not merely at the immediate, but also at the longer effects" of any policy. Unemployment insurance cushions the blows from recession but also prolongs recession, as individuals become less willing to accept jobs at lower wages and taxes to finance the program reduce the level of new investment.
Owen Graduate School of
I'm outraged by "Working on Welfare." You get together three "welfare reform" pundits, including the sainted Charles Murray, and the most they can do is bleat about the business cycle, guaranteed jobs, and social engineering schemes to restore the sacred nuclear family. Clearly they remember the way everyone rolled in wealth during the Depression, when everyone came from a two-parent family.
Here is voodoo economics indeed: "It's a lot better for people to work than not to work." How quaint. What the hell does having a guaranteed job have to do with working? What's sacred about turning up, punching a clock, and slacking off for eight hours? If the "employee" even bothers to stay on site. These are, after all, guaranteed jobs. If the best a free-market bastion such as REASON can come up with is Big Government and a new smokescreen for the welfare state, what do we need liberals for?
John Hood's article ("All in the Family Practice," Apr.) is right on. The president's "Health Security Plan" would take medicine back to where it was when I started practice 45 years ago as far as specialization is concerned. With fewer specialists in practice, they would locate in cities, as they did then. It was hard to reach them and harder still to get a patient under their care.
Two ideas help drive the Health Security Plan: that doctors can save money by preventing illness and that medicine can be practiced more cheaply by nurse practitioners. Both are false. Most of what passes for prevention is actually early diagnosis. It is expensive. "Community health clinics" care for patients with nurse practitioners now, but they cost more, not less, than private medicine.
The division of labor is fundamental to civilization, and no place is this more true than in medical care. A good general practitioner is the least expensive entry point into the system. He and his patients need specialists available if the quality of patient care is not to slip backward.
W. Edward Jordan Jr., M.D.
John Hood quotes the wanna-be president, Hillary, as saying, "There will clearly still be opportunities to go into specialties and subspecialties. But you know, it's about time we start thinking about the common good and the national interest, instead of just individuals, in our country."
Didn't we just spend 45-plus years (and many lives) fighting socialists and communists who said the "national interest" was more important than the individual and then set out to deprive the individual of his/her rights in favor of the "national interest"? Is it 1917 again?