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“We, the People of the United States, in order to… promote the general Welfare,and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

2019-02-21

A paraphrase of a recent web “news” piece (in New York magazine, by Eric Levitz):

‘ Recent economic research has produced evidence that various forms of redistributive welfare spending increase aggregate productivity by improving poor children’s later economic outcomes… the key to stimulating innovation may be to increase worker’s wages and bargaining power, forcing firms to invest in automation and otherwise increase productivity to maintain profits…’

Furthermore, research indicates that inequality reduces economic growth by reducing consumer demand– with large absolute majorities of the population on the edge of poverty, there is little demand for ordinary consumer goods, only for luxury, low-quantity items… this imbalances product markets and reduces income from exportable production.

These economic research findings suggest that the mantra of conservative Republicans is just completely wrong and contrary to the realities of capitalism and social science– economics.  There is a large economic stimulus to be had from supporting the base of society, that is hoi polloi, with child care, basic and advanced schooling, and cash support for the necessities of life, like housing, food, clothing, and medical care.  Supporting otherwise powerless workers would stimulate innovation and growth by forcing industries to compete for profits on the basis of increased productivity rather than decreased employee expenditures.

Decreasing income inequality by taxing the ultra-rich to provide a basic income floor will stimulate economic growth by increasing consumer demand for mass market products.

These facts do not depend on an attitude of sympathy for the poor or collectivism nor for “equality” to be abstractly “good”– they simply point to the positive relationship between these policies and economic growth.  It’s easy for even self-centered conservatives to agree that economic growth is good.

What is difficult is getting to accept that policies that they believe are bad on principle actually have good results.  They just can’t believe that violating the commandments on limited government will have a beneficial effect on society in real life without somehow reducing individual liberty or infringing on their selfish rights.

Perhaps it would help if we pointed out that the directive to do these things is right there in the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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