Ten things that aren’t panaceas

January 23

1)  Legalizing marijuana. “As is his habit, [Obama] nimbly argued the other side. 'Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case.'" (President Obama)

2) Single-payer health care. "'Single payer isn’t a panacea,' said Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University. 'The magic they have is setting rates. But neither Medicare nor Canada has done anything innovative on the delivery side.'" (Wonkblog's Ezra Klein)

3) Raising the minimum wage. "Raising the minimum wage is hardly a panacea. For one, it does little for the millions of struggling families who have higher hourly wages or a salary." (The New York Times' Annie Lowrey)

4) The Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program. "Yes, the Fed was able to do some good things. For example, it pushed mortgage rates down to record lows, which helped make it easier for people to refinance. But the programs weren’t a panacea for the economy as a whole."  (Quartz's Matt Phillips)

5) Getting rid of the $1 bill. "Now, researchers at the Federal Reserve are weighing in, and they, too, find that getting rid of $1 bills entirely wouldn't be the panacea that some analysts have claimed." (Wonkblog's Neil Irwin)

6) Adapting to climate change. "But it's worth noting that even better preparation and infrastructure isn't always a panacea — particularly in the face of massive storms." (Wonkblog's, uh, Brad Plumer)

7) On-line college courses in China. "So while MOOCs are here to stay for the foreseeable future, they’re far from a panacea in tackling China’s educational problems." (The Atlantic)

8) Giving homeless people a place to live. "This does not solve all of a homeless person's problems in life. Typically one does not become homeless without some other misfortune befalling you first... so Housing First is no panacea." (Slate's Matt Yglesias)

9) Breaking up the big banks. "I also think it’s a mistake to assume that somehow breaking up the banks would be a panacea. The lesson that was drawn from the S&L crisis was that the financial system was excessively fragmented." (Larry Summers)

10) Getting married. "Getting married may not be the panacea for poverty that many say it is, a new study argues." (NBC News)

Whoever it is that keeps insisting their preferred policies are panaceas has a lot of explaining to do.

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Sarah Kliff · January 23