Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:
Understandably wishing to enhance the economic prospects of young Americans, progressives propose giving to infants born into low-income families “baby bonds” (“Could $3,200 ‘Baby Bonds’ Help End Poverty in America?” May 13).
I’ve got a better idea – actually, two: Abolish the minimum wage and increase school choice. The minimum wage and inner-city government schools are huge obstacles to the economic flourishing of poor Americans. The former prices many unskilled young people out of jobs – and, hence, out of opportunities to get on-the-job training and experience – while the latter fails to equip young people with the basic skills necessary for most jobs in the modern economy. Taking these two steps alone would go much further than would the issuance of baby bonds to ensure brighter economic futures for children in low-income households.
Giving young people wealth earned by others while simultaneously denying them the opportunities and skills necessary to earn wealth themselves of course puts yet another burden on the public fisc. But a far worse consequence of baby bonds is that these help to hide the damage inflicted by minimum wages and the government-school monopoly on low-income young people’s opportunity, agency, responsibility, and dignity.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030