I still looking for the time to respond to Tino Sanandaji.  In the meanwhile, though, here’s Henry Farrell on a new APSR paper on the political economy of the welfare state:

[T]hey argue that if one tries to hold racial and ethnic cleavages
constant, the key factor determining redistribution is the income gap
between middle income voters and lower income voters. Where this gap is
low, middle class people… are more likely to support income redistribution because
they feel that the poor are in some sense, ‘like them.’ When the gap is
high, middle class people will have a much weaker sense of solidarity
with the poor, and hence be less supportive of redistribution. Lupu and
Pontussen suggest that the US is an outlier, with weaker solidarity
than the structure of US inequality would suggest. They argue that the
explanation for this is straightforward – “it is clearly attributable
to the high-concentration of racial-ethnic minorities in the bottom of
the income distribution.” More bluntly put – middle class Americans
feel less solidarity with the very poor because the very poor are more
likely to be black.

If you’re a pro-immigration leftist, these findings will probably fill you with dismay: It sure sounds like low-skill immigration undermines middle-class support for the welfare state.  Yet if, like me, you love immigration and loathe the welfare state, it’s good news.  You might recoil, “It’s ‘good news’ that freedom depends on bigotry?!”  But there’s a big difference between “less solidarity” and “bigotry.”  And solidarity is a very mixed bag.  Despite its surface appeal, solidarity is the #1 cause of self-righteous injustice against out-groups and naysayers.  It would be a better world if we could just admit that our “fellow citizens” are not our brothers and sisters, but strangers.

HT: Tyler