Round 2 of the @AmerCompass family survey is fascinating. They find that across a huge range of family statuses, and for all but the most upper-class Americans, a "breadwinner" model of the family is what people hold as their ideal. americancompass.org/essays/home-bu…
Direct cash subsidies are the most popular form of family policy for all groups except childless women, who prefer maternity leave. Baby bonds lag everywhere.
This is a wild graph. People who think we should NOT do more for families are also the most supporting of paid family leave....

.... maybe because they correctly realize paid family leave is mostly a subsidy for work, not for family.
The class difference here between cash and paid leave is.... pretty revealing.

Paid leave is what well-to-do people want family-policy-for-rich-people to look like.
Monthly checks are more popular than tax credits across al the groups broken out. Though I suspect the partisan split here is huge.
This survey motivates @AmerCompass (represented here by @oren_cass and @wellscking ) to support a per-child wage subsidy with a 1-to-1 phase-in rate.

Which is weird because wage subsidies were one of the *least* popular proposals overall. americancompass.org/essays/the-fam…
It's possible that @oren_cass and @wellscking would object to me calling their proposed "reciprocal social insurance" a wage subsidy.... but it's a benefit you get more of as your income rises. It's family-policy-through-labor-income-supplementation; so, wage subsidy.
We can quibble over "wage" vs "income" here but it's basically a radically simplified EITC. It's an "extra EITC for parents."

@oren_cass and @wellscking say there's an extra 20% bonus for married parents but I don't see it spelled out in detail.
My beef with the proposal @oren_cass and @wellscking lay out here, like the argument made by e.g. @marcorubio last night, is that what this amounts to is just an indirect daycare subsidy program.
We'll give you a benefit-- but only if you're a person who's likely to use it on daycare!
ALso, I object to @oren_cass and @wellscking saying they're necessarily subsidizing *work*. Individuals who work zero hours but have non-labor income would be able to claim this benefit.
It's very important that we avoid conflating "work" and "income." That's my whole point. Some people with income are not working (paid or unpaid). And many people doing a lot of working do not derive income from it.
Now, if @oren_cass and @wellscking envision not using AGI, but using just Line 1 from the Form 1040, then that might be a different story. But they are setting the phase-in based on *total household income in the prior year*.
I also want to question the supposed pro-market-labor element of this program on a second basis: they use *prior year income* as the basis for payments. That has some unique implications
My *guess* on why they did this is the same reason they put benefits starting at month 5 of pregnancy: they want *non-working single moms* to get this benefit at least for that first year, as an anti-abortion policy.
They mention they also want a baby box, TANF home visits, and expanded Medicaid enrollment: this is all a backdoor route (which I endorse the spirit of!) to discourage abortion.
My issue here is that I think it's kind of an asshole move to provide people the benefit then yank it.

Especially if you think about how prior-year rules actually work. Babies born in January would get yuuuuuugely different benefits than those born in December.
Indeed, the plan @wellscking and @oren_cass establish creates weird incentives around when to quit your job and when to get pregnant.

As a researcher, this makes FASCINATING quasi-experimental variation. You'd expect tons more abortions in December than January.
But I do not think that sounds like a very good experiment to conduct.

In general, this kind of policy will create a lot of weird temporal cutoffs. A parent who works diligently for years, saves, then takes two years off to be with their kid gets screwed.
But the place where I really just don't "get" what's going on is @oren_cass and @wellscking *really* hammering on this theoretical concept of a "social compact."
But then it pivots right here where we get the clearest definition of their idea of the social compact. "Reciprocity" is at the heart of any "durable" social compact.

I about smashed my keyboard here so I'm gonna contain myself.
I mean, @oren_cass , @wellscking , do you not know? Have you not heard?

You think ***Social Security*** is an example of a *good policy* which is *durable* and *sustainable* and which *appropriately rewards* people?
The funding problems sort of speak for themselves, but the fundamental *instability* of public pensions is a *voluminous* subject in the academic literature!

These programs discourage family formation! This is not an ambiguous finding!
By disconnecting old-age support from family structure they shift the risk-management priorities of households away from child-focused investments towards individually-focused investments, reducing fertility and increasing work and education.
The result is *demographic instability*: these programs undermine the basis of their support because each generation faces incentives to reduce the numbers payers for their own retirement, even as they pile up tax revenues for current retirees.
In principle the excess funds now would be invested somewhere productive.

In practice retirees are a powerful constituence and the money goes to more generous benefits, or to consumption-oriented present spending by governments.
Relatively few governments actually use their pension-bubble-generation to make a huge shift towards public investment. I know @marcorubio 's people have strong feelings about this. I dunno how @oren_cass feels. But it's kind of a known issue.
A key part of my *critique* of workfare programs ***is that they represent an unsustainable system***. The program that @oren_cass and @wellscking advocate here is no solution to that. We *must* fully divorce family benefits from market income.
One of my favorite charts from a study of a "pure" pro-natal benefit is this one. I see it as kind of the definition of "success."

When Spain provided a baby bonus, daycare expenditures fell by *half* and the fraction in care at all by *25%*.
Parenting is work!

I know @oren_cass and @wellscking dislike this as "commodification" but I mean it in the much more straightforward sense that "other forms of work *compete* with parenting."

Meetings compete with T-ball game attendance!
The work that is encouraged simply goes to pay for daycare. Here's total expenditures. Families didn't reduce consumption *at all*. They just switched it from daycare to other stuff: toys, books, food, you name it.
More generally, I object to @oren_cass and @wellscking 's argument that a stay-at-home parent has made no contribution worthy of "reciprocity."

WHAT THEY DO IS VALUABLE
It is valuable in numerous economic senses: it replaces some other thing of measurable economic value: daycare. It has impacts on kids: work requirements under wlefare reform caused kids to have worse delinquency, especially boys, and Quebec's childcare expansion was similar.
The *objective* of any conservative policy has got to be to actually speak to the *value* of parenting. For whatever my disagreements with them, the consensus of myself, @herandrews and @PTBwrites in the pieces we wrote for @AmerCompass was precisely this point!
If you're not counter-catechizing competing narratives of "what family is," you're not doing anything worth doing.
We framed this in different ways. I point to a "parenting wage" framework. Patrick and Helen prefer different models. But we were all speaking to the idea that *family itself* needs support.
That it is family qua family which is valuable, not family qua its reciprocal benefits to society. The instrumentalization of family as an implement of economic policy is *precisely the problem.*
The family is *philosophically prior to* labor. It does not have to provide a market justification. The market must justify its demands to families, not vice versa. The market exists to serve the interests of human populations, who exist overwhelmingly in families.
It is philsophically preposterous to suppose that the family must justify its claims on social resources by participation in the market which exists to provide it with benefits.

The reason family life is precarious ***is because the market and policy has rendered it so.***
It is this philosophical worship of the market that one might hope @AmerCompass and @oren_cass and @wellscking would resist: but alas, not so! Once again, the family is subordinated to the arbitrary demands of the market which does not recognize their contributions.
If the market has some solution reproducing itself outside of human fertility I'm all ears but so far, there's no substitute for babymaking. The costs are enormous, leading more and more people to opt out, and response here is "MOAR MARKETS!"
I don't want to discourage work, because families depend on a functioning market, which requires work. But under virtually all child allowance plans, including Romney's, marginal tax rates at low incomes remain negative.
Anyways, the reality is that refusal to support families by continuing to demand that families be subordinated to the market is going to thwart effective family policy.

The result will be continued falling fertility.

the result will be growing pressure to do something.
*Eventually* I will win this argument because the simple reality is fertility is not about to rebound and demographic realities are gonna start biting social welfare programs harder and harder.
Eventually, employers will crap their pants (as companies who sell stuff to infants and young children already are) and the logic of business will demand large unconditional cash transfers to parents.

But I hate winning that way.
Much better to win by persuading people that the policy is *good* than that it is an unfortunate necessity. Plus, by the time it's an unfortunate necessity, it is much more expensive to actually accomplish anything.
And I'm not even talking about the wild ride of automation!
Now look. If the policy that @oren_cass and @wellscking advocate for came up for a vote, I'd support it. If there were an actual legislative package here, I'd be all for it. Let's do it! On the margin it's better than what we currently have!
And as soon as it's passed, I'll begin advocating for a policy to actually support family.
But since we're having a debate about a proposal with AFAIK no legislators actually supporting it, it's worth having the philosophical debate.
I have been improving my model of Romney's plan. Here it is using the TANF rules from Florida, and actual eligibility thresholds for housing vouchers, medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, and incorporating SALT, CDCTC, etc.

@marcorubio using FL's rules, Romney's plan encourages marriage.
I also did something I recommended to @kpomerleau : Instead of looking at current joint filers, I took the distribution of current singles by income/child number, and simulated *the statistical distribution of theoretically possible unions* yielding each joint income and 1 kid
This approach looks not at what benefits people currently get, but looks at the distribution of people who *could get married*. I restrict to prime-age people. The key idea here is I want to see, "What's the combined income range of plausible breadwinner vs dual-income couples?"
So we take each prime-age single individual with 0 or 1 kid, and we look at how many other opposite-sex (for simplicity) single people could be matched to them to yield a couple with 1 kid and the income shown on the X axias of the graph I'll show below.
Once we see how many potential matches can occur in each income range, we can calculate the total potential number of matches, and then the % of potential matches yielding each income range.

I use 2019 CPS data for this.
I distinguish between couples with one- versus 2-earners. Here's the distribution.

For breadwinners, VERY FEW couples would have income under $10,000. For dual-income, very few have it below $30,000.
There are a LOT of possible breadwinner couples with incomes in the $13-$50k range. Fewer above that.

For dual-earner couples it's a flatter distribution, but there's a bit of a hump around $40-$120k.
So basically, when we think about marriage penalties, for dual-earners we should be visualizing couples with at least $25-$30k in combined income; for breadwinners at least $10-$15k. For breadwinners, couples over $80k-$100k are pretty rare. For dual earners, it's more common.
So let's COMBINE OUR GRAPHS.

Does Romney's plan REDUCE PENALTIES for the kinds of couples MOST LIKELY TO FACE THOSE PENALTIES?

(cc @kpomerleau )

Yes! Changes in marriage penalties are most positive for the most theoretically likely couples!
Romney's plan, because of some weird interactions in the CTC removal, creates marriage penalties for some very low-income couples: but as you can see, that occurs in income ranges where such couples are *relatively unlikely to form*.
In the central mass of the graph, you can see that changes to marriage benefits peak in the income ranges where the probability density of plausible marriages also peaks!

That's a great sign!

Romney's plan increases marriage benefits for *couples likely to actually form*!
This may sound silly but y'all Tax Policy Vaporware is a real thing!

The CDCTC includes a whole range of work-encouraging high-phase-in-rates..... that can never be claimed because the people at those income levels would never have enough liability to claim the credit.
This suggests that Romney's plan is both 1) a simplification of the code and also 2) a *correct targeting* of changes in benefits!

That's a rare combo! Better-targeting-through-simplification is not the usual outcome!
OKAY ONE LAST THING.

One of the mind-bending twist endings of Welfare Reform is that because TANF now often has work requirements, a lot of conservatives are now actually Defenders of TANF.
One of the wilder parts of @oren_cass and @wellscking 's piece is when they cite it as an important BENEFIT of their proposal that TANF is NOT REPEALED, and they even call for an expansion in some of TANF's programmatic offerings!
What's going on here I think is that as TANF has turned into a slush-fund-for-doing-experiments-on-poor-people, conservative state governments have found it very useful. You can subsidize all kinds of interesting and highly experimental programs as "redirects."
But it just blows my mind that conservatives are not salivating at FINISHING THE JOB OF WELFARE REFORM and getting rid of TANF. Just shows how much you can buy program support by making sure everybody gets their cut and the poor get nothing.
TANF is a terrible program which gives wildly unequal amounts to states without much reference for actual child poverty and in many states few poor people ever see a dime of it while the institution apparatus of People Managing Poverty all get a nice paycheck.
The only thing worse than the bureaucrats is the contractors.
"But many of those programs are actually really good!"

Yes! True! TANF grants end up supporting a ton of good work that yields real benefits for people!

So justify those programs on their own merits and get funding for them!
That we now inhabit a world where *conservatives* refuse to consider cutting TANF, not because of political liabilities but because TANF Is Good, just speaks to how much the movement has lost its way.
Anyways, I am absolutely swimming in Real Work I'm way behind on.

Suffice to say, I agree with economic conservatives that child allowances will discourage some market labor.

That's

A

Good

Thing
God or Mammon everybody. God or Mammon.

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More from @lymanstoneky

23 Feb
So @Noahpinion cited me as saying that @swinshi was wrong in his critiques of Biden's plan.

But that's a mis-cite. I said @swinshi 's critiques of *Romney*'s plans were wrong. Biden's plan is totally different, bearing almost no resemblance to Romney's. bloomberg.com/opinion/articl…
My actual argument is that Romney's plan ***would*** cause some small reduction in market labor, but that it would also modestly incentivize marriage, and that this tradeoff is okay.
Biden's plan is different in numerous regards, but he makes pro-work changes in several places where Romney makes anti-work changes. Biden expands the pro-work CDCTC, and makes no EITC reductions, while expanding for childless workers. That would encourage work.
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20 Feb
the strange reality of strict calvinism is that it makes a mockery of God's claims to hate, abhort, or even be theoretically opposed to evil
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The hypothetical I gave was, "Suppose that there was a city of Christians, and a bomber flew over the city, and the guy at the controls tripped and accidentally armed and dropped a bomb, and wiped out the city: is that God's will? What does God think of that?"
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So @CDCgov 's FluView Interactive website is still broken. The custom download option is dead, so I can't download the usual data I use for Death Day. Please fix it CDC!
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Okay, death day!

Deaths may be starting to come down! It's still pretty noisy, but we *may* be coming through this thing. Vaccination is chugging along well ahead of infections, though it needs to be EVEN FASTER. ImageImageImage
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20 Feb
With the news about China maybe scrapping fertility restrictions in Manchuria, it's worth seeing how that squares with my "China is attempting racist-pronatalism" claim I made in @ForeignPolicy foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/30/chi…

Answer: it fits if you lump in Manchus.
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But my impression is that today most Han see the Manchus as basically no different. There are some Manchu autonomous counties, but no over-arching Manchu autonomous region, despite them being the 2nd most common minority group in China.
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19 Feb
It's Lent. This is a remarkable season but one I think many Christians and non-Christians alike misunderstand and thus they fail to derive the full benefit of the season.
So what is Lent, really?

Well, we give stuff up for 40 days.

Why?

Because 40 is a number often associated with penitence and ascetic discipline in scripture: 40 years in the wilderness, 40 days of Jesus fasting, 40 days of rain for Noah, etc.
We assign the 40 days prior to Eastertide as the Lenten season (which btw "Lent" literally just means "spring" and isn't a liturgical reference at all) as a time of penitence as we prepare for the ecstatic joy of Eastertide and Pentecost.
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19 Feb
People wonder why I am so stridently anti-Fauci and the answer is y'all this is a news story from ****February 17**** where Fauci says people shouldn't wear a mask and the thread of juvenile influenza having a second wave is bigger than COVID. usatoday.com/story/news/hea…
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It's just insane.

By February 17, there were NUMEROUS high-quality studies showing base R values for COVID >3 in the early Wuhan outbreak. Ebola, to which Fauci compares COVID, has an R of 1.5-1.9 without controls.
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