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Tyler Cowen’s Solution to Poverty


Tyler Cowen’s solutions to poverty would not have been original in 1890:

You and other thinkers on the right have proposed that cultural factors play a large role in the widening income gap. What are you suggesting?

Note that the observed stagnation in earnings has plagued male earners, not women. Women continue to do better in the work force and also in education, or if they choose not to advance this is often a voluntary decision, linked to childbearing.

Men are perhaps better suited for old-style manufacturing jobs, and women are often better suited for service sector jobs. A lot of men seem to have problems with discipline and conscientiousness.

If we are looking for a remedy, a greater interest in strict religions would help many of the poor a lot — how about Mormonism for a start? Just look at the data. Many other religions prohibit or severely limit alcohol, drugs and gambling. That said, this has to happen privately rather than as a matter of state policy.

Cowen would fit in the Gilded Age quite well. Between his gender stereotypes and his telling the poor to live morally upright religious lives to succeed, thus blaming them for their own poverty if they don’t, Cowen sounds like he’s taken a time machine from the late 19th century. Andrew Carnegie could have used this guy. He goes on to talk about how income inequality is actually a “red herring.” I’m sure the people of the south Texas colonias, Detroit, and Youngstown would totally agree. Their poverty totally isn’t real.

These are the solutions to income inequality that I have no doubt the plutocrats funding him at George Mason love to hear. But telling poor people to convert to Mormonism is, to say the bloody least, not even part of a solution to poverty.

….Cowen’s “ideas” remind me of what I’m seeing here in Oaxaca. The cop cars (and the civilian cars the cops drive somewhat oddly since it tells everyone they are cops) all have bumperstickers saying things like “TRABAJO.” Which means work for those of you with even less Spanish than I have (luckily my wife is nearly fluent). I mean, that’s a great idea. Let’s not provide any jobs. But telling people to work through bumperstickers, that’s sure to fight crime!

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