There's an article in today's NY Times about working-age men who choose not to work.
Millions of men like Mr. Beggerow — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work.
About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960’s. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950’s and 60’s.
I respect these guys who are enjoying their leisure instead of working. They haven't let themselves be brainwashed by conventional middle class values which say that every man has to work otherwise he's a loser.
Some of the men who don't work receive disability benefits which pay better than a minimum wage job. If I were getting disability benefits, and the only jobs I could find paid only a little better than what I could make by not working, I wouldn't bother to work either.
The disability program, in turn, is an obstacle to working again. Taking a job holds the risk of demonstrating that one can earn a living and is thus no longer entitled to the monthly payments. But staying out of work has consequences. Skills deteriorate, along with the desire for a paying job and the habits that it requires.
If the goal is to encourage people to work, means tested benefits are bad policy because they provide the wrong incentives.