Ray Connolly: Focus on fishing

July 5, 2014 

I strongly support the objectives of the Moral Monday protesters in helping people who need a hand up. The question is: How best to do that? University of Chicago Economics Professor Casey Mulligan has studied this issue and concluded that public assistance (unemployment insurance, food stamps, mortgage relief, health insurance) reduces the incentive to work.

We saw this here. When North Carolina limited unemployment insurance benefits, the unemployment rate went down. A brief summary of Mulligan’s book “The Redistribution Recession” recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. To quote from that article: “The more you help low income people, the more low income people you’ll have. The more you help unemployed people, the more unemployed people you’ll have.”

What’s a concerned person to do? I’d recommend changing the protest effort to helping youngsters stay in school and stay out of trouble with job training for those post high school. It’s been said many times before: Focus the effort on teaching them to fish instead of demanding the general public – via the city, county, state, federal governments – give them fish.

Ray Connolly, Raleigh

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