It Isn't The Markers


Posted on : 2/06/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Reynolds' Law is named for the Blogfather; Glenn Reynolds.  His Law goes something like this:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.
The creation and accumulation of wealth is not the result of college educations, home ownership, and similar trappings.  Those educations and pieces of property are the result of human behaviors that inexorably lead to the creation and accumulation of wealth.

Perhaps instead of subsidizing possessions, we ought to get back in the business of teaching successful human behaviors.

I once owned a car that had a bad starter for a couple days.  As it had a manual transmission, I started it a few times by pushing it down a modest incline and popping the clutch.

Rolling that car down hill did not guarantee that it would learn to run due to the rolling wheels.  Only the functioning engine and fuel in the tank could make that car move further than the bottom of that brief slope.

Giving out educations, homes, etc. is like pushing a car without an engine or fuel down a hill and expecting it to miraculously continue running down the road.

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