By Taylor Marvin
Last week Felix Salmon made what I think is a very perceptive point about the long-term costs of American distaste for public social spending:
“Two of the biggest and most daunting long-term problems facing the US economy are (1) the fact that Americans aren’t as well educated as their counterparts elsewhere in the world; and (2) the fast-growing obesity epidemic.
Both of these problems are caused, in large part, by America’s very high levels of child poverty.
So if you fix the child-poverty problem, you’ve made a serious dent in both the education problem and the obesity problem.
What’s more, the child-poverty problem really is one of those problems which can be fixed quite easily just by throwing money at it. Give enough money to children in poverty, and they’re not poor any more. Problem solved — at least to a first approximation.”
The United States federal government spends an enormous amount of money, primarily on entitlements for the elderly and defense spending. While a large portion of this spending is arguably justified, it’s also remembering that the long-term positive returns on the military budget and excessive entitlement spending are much less than comparatively trivial programs to reduce child poverty. While US government spending is likely unsustainable at our current revenue level, smarter appropriation of relatively minor amounts of federal funds could have huge long-term benefits.