I have two favorite quotes from Ronald Reagan about the world of work. The first one illustrates his mastery of an indispensable political tool: self-deprecating humor. “It’s true hard work never killed anybody,” he quipped, “but I figure, why take the chance?”

My other favorite Reagan quote makes a serious point: “I believe the best social program is a job.” He was right, as mountains of empirical evidence have subsequently demonstrated. Government actors can boost the real incomes of low-income people with a variety of means, including cash welfare and non-cash benefits such as housing assistance and Medicaid. American governments have done this to a massive extent over the past five decades, helping to reduce the real poverty rate from 31% in 1960 to less than 2% in 2021.