Lee Kuan Yew offers some novel thoughts. As reported in today’s WSJ, he credits the sociologists with having a causal effect on shifting the United States towards the left.
“Still, Mr. Lee worries about the breakdown of civil society in the U.S.—individual rights (not paired with individual responsibility) run amok—and about a growing culture of entitlements. Sociologists, he says, have convinced Americans that failure isn’t their fault but the fault of the economic system. Once charity became an entitlement, he observes, the stigma of living on charity disappeared. As a result, entitlement costs outpace government resources, resulting in huge debts for future generations. In the meantime, America’s political leaders kick the can down the road to win elections.”
For those seeking some deeper insights from the WSJ today, I suggest reading this piece about the costs and benefits of universal preschool investment. The unsigned piece highlights the key open empirical questions in this important policy literature. Note the emphasis on “heterogeneous treatment effects”. For a diverse population, which interventions are most cost effective? Given that we can’t clone people, who can we pair you with to be your control group? Without a control group, how can we infer whether a specific treatment (such as Head Start) improved your quality of life?