Having just read this article from the NY Times, I've been having a think.
For anyone who wants a quick precis (you lazy person) the article is putting forward the suggestion (albeit not entirely seriously) that too many people are writing nowadays more because they want to be a writer than because they actually enjoy writing. Consequently, publishers are suffering from what the article calls "snow blindness" - there is too much coming in for them to be able to cope and sort out the good books from the heaps and heaps of manuscripts in their slush-piles, and so this author is suggesting that the government offer salaries to this kind of writer to stop writing - much in the way that the EU subsidizes farmers to have set-asides.
The thing is though, I don't honestly think it's necessary. At least, not if the aim is to get rid of the people who just want to be the next JK or Dan Brown. The recession will probably do that for us. It's hard enough for writers-on-the-make in the best of times. Almost every writer that ever there was has had a day-job first, and when you're working hard all day to support yourself it takes a special kind of someone to sit down at the computer for another few hours every evening and tax their already overstretched brain just a bit further to write another thousand words of the novel. In a recession, those with jobs will be working just a bit harder and tightening the belts just a bit more, and it'll be just a bit harder to sit down at that computer every day. Those without will be even more stretched to make ends meet, and since we all know that writing isn't the most well paid of jobs, not at first at any rate, you would have to be an idiot (or more optimistic than really justified) to try and depend on that as your only means of income in difficult financial times.
In the end, if you don't love writing, you don't need any subsidy to force you out of the profession; the profession will do that for you. I've heard so many people say they've had great ideas for a book, or they'd love to write one someday but they just don't have the time, that if you gave me a pound for each one, I wouldn't have to write to support myself. Everyone, it is said, has at least one book in them, but not everyone has it in them to write it. You've got to need to put pen to paper, more than just wanting the money or the fame (because they will be a long time in coming) and it's only that which will keep you going through the bad times as well as the good. If you don't have it, well... you won't even get as far as someones slush pile.