If Obama Were President

The mammone -- a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma -- is an Italian tradition. But under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

The mammone — a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma — is an Italian tradition. Under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young American men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

In Italy, they call him a mammone: an unemployed man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who still lives with mamma.

The prevalence of the mammone has long been thought to be a predominantly Italian phenomenon, with deep cultural roots.  It has grown more pronounced with the country’s recent economic distress.  Since 2008, a growing percentage of Italian men aged 25-54 have abandoned the labor force, no longer bothering even to look for work.

Italy’s workforce participation rate among men of prime working age is by far Europe’s lowest.  But it is not the lowest in the developed world.  Italy now shares that dubious distinction with the U.S.

That wouldn’t happen if Obama were President. Continue reading

Frenemies of the Poor

The 50th anniversary of the President Johnson's declaration of a War on Poverty has provoked strong views on whether it has succeeded or failed. The truth lies somewhere between. [Credit: Huffington Post]

The 50th anniversary of the President Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty has provoked strong views on whether it has succeeded or failed. The truth lies somewhere between. [Credit: Huffington Post]

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vastly more harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, GOP harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology.  Paul Krugman, “Enemies of the Poor,” January 12, 2014

The 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty has occasioned a good deal of moral exhibitionism. Liberals heap praise on the programs and flatter themselves for supporting the transfer of an estimated $20.7 trillion (in 2011 dollars) in cash and non-cash benefits from those who earned it to those who did not. And they are relishing the opportunity to denounce conservatives as enemies of the poor, motivated by ideology and spite.

Some conservatives, like the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, are using the anniversary to declare the War on Poverty lost. Rector recently was quoted as saying that “the War on Poverty has been a complete catastrophe.” Continue reading