We certainly disagree on economic shocks… If a company goes bankrupt and its employees lose their jobs, that is a short term negative and having a social safety net is certainly good public policy for those times (as I said in my original essay). But the whole point of bankruptcy is to have a structured way of taking mis-allocated capital and reallocating it to better, more productive uses. Economis “shocks” are just bankruptcies writ large.
The 2008 financial crisis is a perfect example. If we had focused on the healthy banks and made sure they could quickly absorb the demand for short term credit, and just let the sick ones die (a most richly deserved death, I might say), the pain would have be intense, but for a much shorter period of time.
As for the Old Poor Law, it is very much like Social Security Disability (which is a federal program) and state-level disability insurance here in the U.S. I think you might be surprised to find out that conservatives in the U.S. would welcome such an approach because it makes a proper judgment as to who is able vice unable to work, and who are just idle.
We have a program run privately here in San Diego called Solutions for Change which looks a lot like the Old Poor Law, and has proven very effective.