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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


PATHWAYS: A magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy

Cross-posted to FreedomDemocrats.

A prominent team of economists is publishing a new magazine devoted to issues of income distribution. In the first issue of Pathways Magazine: A Magazine on Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy you'll find anti-poverty policy proposals by John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hilary Clinton. The editorial board includes Kenneth Arrow (of Arrow's impossibility theorem), and Charles Murray.

Murray contributed an article (the only one I read), in which he rehashes some of his ideas regarding poverty, and clinches the prize of "the most sophisticated of vulgar libertarians". He makes a strong argument that the main factor contributing to poverty in America is social breakdown, including fatherless children--but he doesn't provide any insight as to what anyone can do about this social breakdown. Furthermore, having found an a major factor influencing poverty, he seems to be dismissive of any further examination of other factors --regardless of whether they influence poverty directly or reduce the social breakdown that he focuses on.

He also dedicates some space to the issue of why highly-paid workers earn so much more than the average salary. He attributes this to the increasing value of cognitive skills (technology development and large-organization management) and appealing to an increasing tournament effect among entertainers. He treats these phenomena as historical inevitabilities; without a word, he dismisses the possibility that these market structures are the result of semi-arbitrary property laws, taxes and subsidies, or even our cultural values--all of which we can change if we dislike the consequences.

Tip to Mirror on America.

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