The Richard Reeves recommendations

From a review of The Dream Hoarders:

Reeves is optimistic, however, that the correct policy agenda can reverse this trend. His policy background shines through in the clarity of his seven-point agenda. The first four focus on equalizing human capital development—reducing unintended pregnancies by expanding access to better contraception, narrowing the parenting skills gap by investing in home visits by nurses, paying the best teachers to work in poor schools, and making college funding more equal. The remaining three are aimed at reducing opportunity hoarding—curbing exclusionary housing zones, widening the doors into postsecondary education, and opening up internships through increasing regulatory oversight, expanding student aid to interns, and changing the norms of how internships are allocated.

The latest issue of Democracy is filled with articles about the pitfalls of progressive policies, which is refreshing. Of course, in many cases, but not all, they recommend alternatives that are further to the left.

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21 Responses to The Richard Reeves recommendations

  1. asdf says:

    -reducing unintended pregnancies by expanding access to better contraception

    Condoms are cheap as heck, poors just don’t have the discipline to use them.

    -narrowing the parenting skills gap by investing in home visits by nurses

    We already have lots of social workers doing visits, unless you can change their genes this won’t matter much. And there isn’t enough money in the till to pay middle class white women to be 1:1 parent surrogates for the underclass.

    -paying the best teachers to work in poor schools

    Actually, you should pay the best teachers to work in the best schools. Those students have potential that could be brought out to add to society. Those mediocre potential do just fine with mediocre teachers. Also, its rather cruel to force to best teachers to bash their head into a wall of inferior genetics, it will probably cause them to burn out.

    -making college funding more equal

    We have too many people going to college as it is. Marginal students drop out and graduate without careers because they don’t have the ability to develop necessary skills for college level work.

    -curbing exclusionary housing zones

    Make it impossible for people to keep trouble makers our of their schools and neighborhoods. Didn’t school busing already fail once. Do we have to do it all over again.

    -internships through increasing regulatory oversight, expanding student aid to interns, and changing the norms of how internships are allocated

    The best internships are paid anyway. If your working for free its probably a bad career or a tournament market, not a place for penniless young people.

    +Is there any way out of this insane nonsense besides just finally convincing everyone that your genes determined your socioeconomic status at birth and its just time to live with it. Otherwise we need ever more ridiculous reasons for inequality followed by ever more ridiculous and harmful government interventions.

  2. SamChevre says:

    I found it interesting–but unsurprising–that one of the large differences between top 20% and lower quintile households is family stability–and none of the suggestions would help with family formation and stability.

    Here’s my proposal: for ALL means-tested programs, the first income is excluded up to the median household income. So in no case would marrying someone with an income below the household median reduce any means-tested benefits. Pay for it by eliminating tax benefits that primarily benefit high-income, two-income households. Two parent families are significantly better: there’s relatively marginal social benefit to two-income families. Tax policy should reflect this.

  3. collin says:

    -reducing unintended pregnancies by expanding access to better contraception

    Well, everybody could agree to make the pill over-the-counter and the free market would drive the price down to ~$5/month. Otherwise this is decreasing the last several decades as well.

    -narrowing the parenting skills gap by investing in home visits by nurses

    ????? I am not sure how this works and it sounds bad.

    -paying the best teachers to work in poor schools

    In reviewing charter school scores, it is amazing that the charter school with union teachers have the best success. So it is all self selection of the students.

    In terms of teacher unions, it seems the best way to break the union is to get the best teachers to vote against the union. (Right now all the best teachers I have seen are militant union supporters.)

    -making college funding more equal

    We did do this in the 1960s through 1995ish. It was a general success but it is costly.

    -curbing exclusionary housing zones

    Reasonable ideas but this is hard because implement as city halls are dominated by real estate agents and this will have modest impact over decades.

    -internships through increasing regulatory oversight, expanding student aid to interns, and changing the norms of how internships are allocated

    internships through increasing regulatory oversight. OH GOD this sounds terrible although in general the US internship program is terrible compared to say Germany. I suspect the labor protections in Germany make young people more comfortable committing to vocational trades.

    +Is there any way out of this insane nonsense besides just finally convincing everyone that your genes determined your socioeconomic status at birth and its just time to live with it.

    Yes/No…After WW2, the post-war Boom was incredible growth for all incomes and the incomes of non college wage earners have completely stagnated since 1974. (Yes I know it is a lot of self selection bias as these wages dropped from 74 – 94 and have had modest increase since 1994.) But between automation, free trade, and inflexible unions this reality hit non-college workers fairly hard the last 40 years. However,

    1) We have seen a society follow these ideas well and it was Japan in 1970/1980s and now they don’t have enough cheap labor for a competitive economy. Or Singapore (or California/Texas for the US) has to import lots immigrants to fill this gap. In Socal most restaurants are having real issues getting workers at this point and this is not even minimum stuff.
    2) It really seems weird that the richer we become the less we can afford children irony. Personally I think we should tell every High School student not to get married until 27 and have children until 30. But this will have huge impacts in 20 years as if only people Romneys have children, that will decrease income mobility.

    • collin says:

      I will throw one idea out there which is our society could return to single income married families.

    • asdf says:

      When I go to Japan or Singapore, lack of low productivity foreign labor doesn’t appear to be hurting their societies so much. In fact it seems to be a benefit to quality of life.

      • collin says:

        OK, how is foreign labor hurting Texas or California? (And isn’t Japan foreign labor a small amount and their nation has falling populations?)

        Houston is a very productive city and their demographics is very much slanting towards Hipsanic-Americans. Or what would happen to Arizona or Las Vegas economy is all the Hispanic-Americans left?

        • asdf says:

          Based on median income Hispanic labor seems to hurt, not help, the economics of Texas and California. They take more in benefits then they pay in taxes. Their poor social statistics are well known. The poor and degenerate impose externalities on those around them.

          One simply doesn’t see any of those externalities in Japan or Singapore. And its hard to see how adding net tax liabilities and adding to crowding is going to solve their fertility issues. You solve your fertility issues by solving fertility, not importing a new and clearly worse people to replace you.

          Also, Hispanic immigration has made California a one party noted for its government dysfunction. Houston itself has shifted D. As Hispanics gain as a % of population the same will happen to Texas.

          • collin says:

            TBH, I don’t like the current One Party System in California and in reality I voted HRC for President and the rest R on the way down ballot. However judging by Texas where Hispanic-Americans are nearing 40%, this demographic reality of One Democrat Party may not come true. The H-A portion of the Texas and California are fairly close to 40% it is just we have various Asian-Americans at 15%+ in our state as well, many of whom are first and second generation as well.

            1) I believe Singapore does subsidize their Immigrants a lot.

            2) I believe there is a lot of economic value of people working $10 – $12/hour. Otherwise how does Wal-Mart survive? In fact, I sometimes I think retail workers are more beneficial to the economy than a $30M CEO who takes all the gains of firms.

            3) TBH, talking with second generation neighbors, they sure sound like the White Working Classes of the 1950s. They are working hard for their kids.

            4) The reality of making California of One Party system was not the H-A who generally voted Democratic in the 1980s but it is the Asian-Americans. Back in the 1980s Asian-Americans were generally the biggest Republicans in our state and now they are heavily Democratic. (Yes the primary issues were crime and many Immigrants escaped communist regimes. But the A-As in 1988 LOVED Reagan.) The legend of Prop 187 did not change many future H-A voters but changed Asian-American voters.

          • collin says:

            Also, when reviewing California generational Party switch from Reagan to Anti-Trump, history vastly underrates the impact of defense spending in our state.

          • asdf says:

            Texas whites vote overwhelmingly R, which makes up for the Hispanic vote. California white are much more split. However, simple math projections show that once Hispanics make up a big enough part of the electorate Texas will flip too.

            1) Singapore does nothing to subsidize their immigrants. They filter for high IQ and heavily favor Han co-ethnics. The penalty for being an illegal immigrant or employing an illegal immigrant is canning.

            2) Wal-Mart workers are subsidized by the state. They don’t earn their keep. Was-Mart itself should be seen as a state subsidized entity. Both its workers and customers are the government teet. I agree with you about CEOs but they is neither here nor there.

            3) Then why doesn’t it show up in every statistic ever. If anything things get worse in the second generation (divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, and criminality all go up significantly in the second generation). Income goes up a little, probably from learning English, but then stalls in the third and fourth generation at low levels.

            Not everything is about anecdotes from people you hang out with.

            4) Asian voting was heavily influence by people from current/former communist countries, who voted heavily Republican. Chinese Americans are a good example. Cubans were the same on the Hispanic side. Examining the numbers this entirely accounts for any advantage in Asian voting in the 1980s. Each of these former communist groups has been drifting left every single election since and now vote like their fellow co-thnics that didn’t come from communist countries, its not a mystery.

            Prop 187 doesn’t really explain the above phenomenon, nor how these ethnic groups vote similarly throughout the entire country regardless of local politics and culture. It’s much more accurate to admit that non-whites will always vote D and anti-communist sentiment was a force of purely temporary alignment.

            If you wanted to keep California R, the only answer was mass deportation of Dem voters before it was too late.

          • collin says:

            In terms of Texas switching, I with Sean Trende that demographic realities change constantly and I suspect as long as Texas has a heavy Oil & Gas industry, they are staying Republican for awhile. And go to any oil field and I bet their is growing Hispanic-American workforce. Again in terms of California, we way underestimate the impact of the desertion of military manufacturing in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

            1) One aspect of Asian-American Democrats is that a growing portion of illegal aliens are from Asian not Mexico. And Asians dominate the DACA recipients while the number of border crossing illegal seasonal agricultural workers is diminishing. (I suspect as the small Mexican farmers disappear this trend will continue.)


            2) I not sure what to do about Wal-Mart workers as they are the largest employer in the US. So if 80% of the Wal-Mart cant afford to have families, then our nation should have a crash in the birth rate. And I do believe Conor Sen that the biggest indicator of labor supply today is the birth rate of 20 – 25 years before.

  4. Denis Drew says:

    Usual lack — total lack — of overall perspective. What’s the difference between US and German lower 80%? LABOR UNIONS!!!

    6% union density in private economy equates to 20/10 blood pressure — it starves every economic AND! political process. Why is this happening? Federal labor law, NLRA(a), protection of organizing a union — sanctions of union busting — has gone insipid since it was written in 1935. Repubs in (temporary?) command of Congress wont help.

    A “Chinese Wall” of federal preemption of any state labor protection at all (except for categories like farm workers completely left out of NLRA(a) coverage) has been cobbled together by courts (usually trying to help labor) over generations now. I only became aware recently. This is long — but it undoes the preemption barrier:

    The restocking of American labor union density in 39 words:
    If a state or local legislature passes a law that makes exercising freedom of association (e.g., organizing a labor union) possible where it would otherwise not be possible, then, Congressional preemption of labor law falls to the First Amendment.

    Federal interference (preemption) with state legislation can pop up in the least likely places (and least practical).


    Florida wanted 140 mph resistant cranes — Congress thought 93 mph okay, years ago — judiciary thought no lives endangered (off street; none lost to previous storms); probable property damage to cranes and structures not enough to let Florida do its own thinking. No competing value somewhere else in the Constitution could save Florida from judges judging federal preemption.

    Not so in every area.

    A doctor on KevinMD blog griped that anti-trust laws bar doctors from combining to bargain fees with hospitals (unless employed there). I opined (no expert on the specifics) that if doctors combined to bargain with a giant like Blue Cross, then, overall market power would be sufficiently balanced — for the First Amendment to assert itself and protect doctors’ combination — disallowing not a matter of legislative choice. (I got the general idea right anyway.)

    For decades now, judicial interpretation has walled out state labor legislation under federal preemption until it precludes anything the NLRA(a) even so much as arguably protects or prohibits (Garmon); all arguments resolved solely by the NLRB(b) — also almost anything that fits under the definition of the free play of economic forces affecting collective bargaining (Machinists), IOW almost anything not fitting under the definition of protected or prohibited.

    Ironically, as decades of judicially discovered barriers to state intervention piled up, the number of union workers left under federal rules slid endlessly down.

    Decades during which the initial intent of Congress to “encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining” — was been lost to growing federal ineffectiveness and state law freeze out.

    6% labor union density in private business (the 6% able to hang on by their own natural advantages; no help from Congress) equates to 20/10 blood pressure — no difficulty diagnostically. And it starves every other healthy democratic process.

    For an all day read on uninvited judicial construction activity click below (97 page PDF, very readable, half is notes and if you only want to check out Garmon and Machinists you can do pp. 70-90).

    Reforming Labor Law by Reforming Labor Law Preemption Doctrine to Allow the States to Make More Labor Relations Policy by Henry H. Drummonds

    Late dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, told a novice reporter that when he came to D.C. fifty years earlier, all the lobbyists were labor. I tell doctors that no matter what health system we originate or borrow it won’t halt the financialization and crapification of US medicine — unless we build a countervailing force, unless we restore healthy union density (for the whole country, not just doctors).

    How to get (back) there in 30 words:
    Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association precludes Congress from disallowing state legislative protection of labor organizing for collective bargaining which legislation is a necessary condition for the exercise of that freedom.

    The intent of the 1935 Congress was to make an environment hospitable to collective bargaining — not to create the sole barrier to state laws that will actually protect labor.

  5. SamChevre says:

    Well, everybody could agree to make the pill over-the-counter and the free market would drive the price down to ~$5/month.

    Not available over-the-counter, but this has already happened: several of the common oral contraceptives are on Wal-mart’s $4 prescription list (and many more are on the $9 a month list.)

    • collin says:

      I agree but let the libertarians push for OTC oral contraceptives with out a Doctor’s permission slip. (perscription sorry.)

      I always wondered during the dumb Rush/Sandra Fluke controversy in the 2012 election, that Mitt Romney not said “Not the word (slut) to use to” describe (Fluke) but instead said that OTC oral contraceptives would be better freedom than Obamacare insurance, he might have change the narrative of the election.

  6. Handle says:

    I think the essence of the Complacency of our era is that there is a kind of Overton Window of lameness now for policy proposals, which means they all seem familiar, and makes even “pie in the sky” proposals very boring, repetitive, derivative, and unlikely to have any important effect, even if implemented. The sclerosis that means we can’t really make big changes anymore has somehow seeped into intellectual discourse as well, which means you can’t even propose anything interesting or genuinely novel, and that everyone takes most of the status quo as if they were facts of nature and not, fundamentally, policy choices which could be altered.

    For example, in the recent Caplan-von Spakovsky debate, the idea of limited resources for law enforcement came up, with everyone taking it for granted that the federal government could not possibly deal with even 10% of crimes, there being so many.

    But actually that notion is completely absurd as a purely practical matter, and off by two orders of magnitude. The federal government could enforce 10 times more crimes than happen, if only the legally-imposed burdens of detection and prosecution were reduced. Without a Fourth Amendment, and with effective ubiquitous electronic surveillance, the clearance rate on every category of crime would skyrocket.

    Of course most people are fond of the Fourth Amendment and comfortable with this policy choice and trade off, but the notion that we are genuinelly “resource constrained” infects the imagination with an ennervating disease.

  7. Tom DeMeo says:

    At the core of the problem is the reality that government and culture are both making American life a bit more complex and demanding an experience each year. We aren’t using expanded knowledge and technology to make our lives easier, but to have more and to do more.

    If you can keep up, this is good. If you can’t, this breaks you down. The size of the group that can keep up gets just a bit smaller each year.

    It should be possible for people to live a simple, dignified life if they want to, and government should facilitate that. But instead, we slowly ratchet up the complexity of every aspect of a normal life. The answers aren’t with strategies to help everyone live faster. It’s to allow some to live slower, the way they want to.

  8. Charles W. Abbott says:

    1. Isabel Sawhill recommended the contraceptives implanted in a woman’s arm that prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

    Her finding was that toward the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, young women “drifted” into pregnancy, never married the fathers, and it was fairly common to eventually see “multi-partner fertility”–a woman having multiple kids from multiple fathers, with little “parental investment” from any of the fathers. Most men don’t like to visit the mother of their child when she and (and the father) have both moved on into new relationships.

    I am reminded of a extreme example: In Putnam’s _Our Kids_, there was a description of one young man “with 9 half-siblings and no fixed address.”

    So, I think when they are talking about contraception, they are talking about that, not cheaper pills you have to take regularly (I Forgot!), or condoms that many people don’t tend to use while in the middle of relationship.

    A couple of other things that might make a difference.

    2. National educational curriculum as advocated by E.D. Hirsch among others. It seems to help the poorest children, and those with the least educated / organized parents, the most.

    3. if you are “slightly to the right of Atila the Hun,” you can be like James Q. Wilson and Myron Magnet, and advocate that young women and their child (children) move into an institution in order to get public benefits.

    Wilson wrote in 1995:

    “Myron Magnet and I have both endorsed the idea of requiring young, unmarried mothers to live in group homes with their children under adult supervision as a condition of receiving public assistance. I have suggested that we might revive an institution that was common earlier in this century but has lapsed into disuse of late—the boarding school (sometimes, mistakenly, called an orphanage) for the children of mothers who cannot cope. At one time, such schools provided homes and educations for over 100,000 youngsters.”

    Reeve had a visiting nurse come see his children, because his children were born in Britain, if I recall the book correctly.

  9. Over Daddy's knee says:

    Reducing unintended pregnancies? I suspect that Reeves is assuming that the lower classes share the upper-middles’ attitude toward procreation—get your career on a firm footing, then produce one or two children and invest heavily in their upbringing. If so, Reeves is deluding himself. As one moves down the socioeconomic slope, one finds an increasing value attached to fertility in both males and females.

  10. Slocum says:

    The first four focus on equalizing human capital development—reducing unintended pregnancies by expanding access to better contraception

    Contraception is already cheap and readily available. The lower classes get pregnant when and because they want to. Their life plan is different but not crazy given the circumstances. They don’t expect their children’s fathers to help out much, but grandma (who, BTW, is likely still in her 40s or even 30s) will.

    narrowing the parenting skills gap by investing in home visits by nurses

    Seriously? Nurses are expensive and have no particular expertise in ‘parenting skills’. And, the differences in parenting styles between the upper and lower classes are rooted in local culture — remember this:

    paying the best teachers to work in poor schools

    Urban districts are generally not poorly funded and their teachers are not underpaid:

    But the best, most ambitious teachers don’t want to work in those districts.

    and making college funding more equal.

    Again, funding is really not the problem. Community colleges and regional state universities don’t have sub 40-percent 6-year graduation rates because their students run out of money.

  11. Roger Sweeny says:

    Two kinds of crap here, one respectable and one not (yeah, I’m not being charitable). The not respectable:

    “Is there any way out of this insane nonsense besides just finally convincing everyone that your genes determined your socioeconomic status at birth and its just time to live with it.”

    No. They didn’t. Though they certainly had an effect. Lots of things that determine success have a genetic component: intelligence, how you do on the “marshmallow test.” But genetic propensities are modified by upbringing, peer groups, and lots of random things like pre-natal environment.

    Alas, most of those who reject the disreputable crap go for respectable crap: the idea that more school and better (somehow) school will go a long way to solving our problems, that there are lots of people who because of lack of money or access are prevented from succeeding in college.

    Right now, we have the opposite, where many people who will not succeed in college are going because they see it as the only way, and then drop out before completion because it’s not for them. And why the hell should they have to go anyway? Most of their coursework, even in their major will have little or nothing to do with any job they get for the rest of their lives. And yet those who because of temperament or upbringing or brains do not do well in academic courses are expected to accept, “If you don’t have a college degree, you can’t get a decent job.”

    The blindness of people in the school business and those close to them–e.g., writers of higher journalism–is understandable and terrible.

    Sorry to sound so pissy, but it’s as if respectable opinion said the way to cure cancer was to take laetrile. It wouldn’t work and it would keep people from the real, and terribly difficult, task of finding out just what helps who under what circumstances.

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