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.
For my 2 and 1/2 readers, this quote was shortened by philo of Alexandria into Reynold’s Law:
Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.
People go off and study the weirdest things: here is a study that claims student financial aid is captured by the institutions and does not benefit students. Thereby undermining the status of college educations
Of course this sort of study supports my priors. It also confirmed by my personal experience. (Does my anecdotal evidence become data when I mention it in the same paragraph as a published study?)
Instapundit is not on my blog roll because I assume everybody reads him.