I run a modest welfare program for birds. That is, I have a couple of bird feeders that I keep stocked with seed. Like any good conservative, I worry a bit about encouraging a culture of dependency as well as bankrupting the payer (namely, me).

Bird experts, or maybe just birdseed salesman pretending to be experts, tell me there is no danger of that kind of dependency, but who knows, really?

I have learned a couple of things, like how to identify lesser goldfinches and some of their cousins, and not to buy forty pound sacks of birdseed - back injuries are much more expensive than birdseed.

One welfare idea with some currency today is the guaranteed income. I don't like it, and neither do most other taxpayers. A much better idea is some kind of guaranteed job. People need the work almost as much as they need the money.

If, as seems likely, computers do most of the real work of the economy in the near or immediate future, the current shortage of jobs in the world will only get worse. In which case we either starve billions or find some kinds of socially useful methods of redistribution.


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