Thoughts on Social Mobility

Below is a video I recently watched and enjoyed from Brookings on social mobility:

My thoughts:

  • I agree that mobility is more important than distribution of income. Perfect income inequality is bad. It would eliminate incentives for productivity. Advocating eliminating poverty under a relative definition of poverty is a trick for advocating perfect income inequality. We should stick to an absolute definition of poverty and then seek to eliminate it through technology and charity, not the state.
  • Perhaps more important than mobility is well-being. If I give you a house and Joe 2 houses you are less equal but you are much better off. However, in the real world it seems mobility and productivity growth go together. In the real world it does not seem that income equality and productivity growth go together.
  • It’s eye opening to see the difference between the various groups.
  • It seems to me that traditional marriage has demonstrable worth according to this video. I wonder whether changing the definition of marriage will be correlated to reduced social mobility.
  • There is an interaction between race, poverty, marriage rate, and education level. We should be concerned with behavioral vs structural problems, not just uncontrolled correlations. Is poverty explained by structural considerations or behavioral considerations?
  • I suspect that being unmarried and of any race is more likely to result in poverty than being black and going to college, for example, and the conclusion may be that behavioral factors make a bigger difference than structural factors. Both matter, but this helps determine focus and solutions.
  • Also, we need to be careful to subsidize the solution, not the problem. Let’s not incentivize poverty by taxing the rich and giving it to the poor. Let’s not tax the healthy and give it to the unhealthy. Let’s try to help each other out, not get even with each other. Let’s not institutionalize reverse racism to treat racism. Instead, let’s have everyone be better off, even if some are more better off than others.
  • If we simply embrace charity and technology we can get all the benefits of helping the needy without any of the problems from harming the well off. Let’s embrace the post-scarcity economy through open source, productivity, and good will. Because it’s going to happen eventually even if we fight it with redistribution and regulation.

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