by Matthew Miller in the Boston Globe yesterday. It is summarized (by the Globe) as follows:
"Republican icons Milton Friedman and William J. Bennett acknowledge the link between the birth lottery and poverty. Can their conservative brethren learn from them?"
Now, the first thing that strikes me is the "birth lottery" comment. This is a natural fallacy of childhood that many people never outgrow. Those of us fortunate enough to be born with loving, caring parents, often contemplated in our youth how lucky indeed we were.
Of course, from our parents' standpoint luck had nothing (barring the occasional "accident") to do with it. They got married, settled down, engaged in the necessary (and enjoyable) preliminary calisthenics and nine months later, a baby was born as a result.
Indeed, the whole notion of a "birth lottery" is silly when one thinks about it hard for a moment as an adult. The image is of babies waiting around for the stork to take them to their new homes when their number to come up. Baby #100223757 is flown to the Gottbucks' family, while baby #100223758 is dropped off at the Trailerfolks' clan. But of course a simple understanding of biology reveals that it has nothing to do with a lottery, it has to do with a sperm and an egg. We are NOT lucky to have had our parents, no matter how wonderful they may have been in that role. I could NOT have been born just as easily to any other set of parents, and to argue so is silly.
Miller assumes that Bill Bennett and Milton Friedman agree with him on the notion of the lottery (in fairness, Bennett does appear to agree). Friedman appears to be acknowledging that his own success is due to luck, but of course this could simply be modesty, since the alternative is admitting that you are fortunate because you deserved it--you worked hard, and were intelligent and took advantage of the opportunities that are offered to everyone in our society.
The point of the article appears to be that "look, a couple of conservative icons agree with me on the birth lottery, so let's propose some policies based on our mutual agreement". The first policy he proposes is the expansion of EITC to "millions of workers who do not receive the EITC", via a federal guarantee of $9-$10
"The "grand bargain" here requires the left to stop trying to place the full burden of a living wage on employers while the right accepts the need to have government fund the rest -- to the tune of a fresh $85 billion a year."
This is grand "bargain" indeed. The left gives up trying to place the full burden of a living wage on employers, while the right gives up $85 billion. Such a deal!