Last week, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who was once thought of as a serious policy maven, made some utterances laden with dog whistles about our social safety net (boldface mine):
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) previewed his upcoming legislative proposals for reforming America’s poverty programs during an appearance on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America Wednesday, hinting that he would focus on creating work requirements for men “in our inner cities” and dealing with the “real culture problem” in these communities. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” he said.
Ryan also cited Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who believes African-Americans are, as a population, less intelligent than whites due to genetic differences and that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”
That said, it’s worth noting that welfare reform–making benefits harder to get and linking them with work–has killed people in the one randomized trial that was conducted. In Florida, the switch cost nine months of life per recipient and increased mortality among thirty to seventy year-olds by sixteen percent over an eighteen year period after the switch.
Maybe we should start calling Ryan’s belief the ‘culture of death.’ To use a phrase.