Bryan Caplan  

The Welfare State and Taxes Are Bad, Mmkay

Milton Friedman on Segregation... How government worsened inequa...
1. I turned my recent "Libertarianism Against the Welfare State: A Refresher" into a talk for the Cato Institute's spring interns.  Here are the slides. 

2. In honor Tax Day, here's my op-ed of "Tax Day Reflections," rejected by the Wall Street Journal back in 1994 when I was still a Ph.D student at Princeton.

3. Mr. Mackey "Mmkay" montage.

COMMENTS (6 to date)
David R. Henderson writes:

Excellent materials, Bryan.

Jon Murphy writes:

While I agree with your general thesis, I'm not sure I fully buy your argument in regards to economic public goods. I know it's an op-ed and you don't have a ton of room for exposition, so I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of some research or writings that could help me better understand your argument.

Nicholas Weininger writes:

If you have speaker notes for the "Responses Considered" slide, they would make an interesting post. I think you've correctly identified most of the strongest and worth-responding-to arguments for the welfare state, but there are a few exceptions:

-- to the "never/can't know it's their fault" item, I would add one more variant: that it's undesirable for the state to be making determinations about fault for poverty, even if those determinations are usually correct; it's a power easily and often abused and requires discretionary judgments that in general government officials shouldn't get to make.

-- you also should address the Georgist/Pigouvian argument that people are owed some compensation for the negative externalities others inflict on them, e.g. by claiming landed property and polluting common resources.

-- finally, you should address the historical-injustice/reparations argument, that e.g. African-Americans are owed some level of welfare support due to the horrendous history of state repression against them (speaking of causes of poverty that are not people's fault).

None of these do much to justify the sort of welfare state that currently exist, but they go some way to justifying the very different, but still nontrivial and expensive, welfare state that I think the BHL/Niskanen people would favor.

Brian Holtz writes:

The correct answer is geoliberarianism.

Fund a basic citizen's dividend through fees for polluting, congesting, depleting, or monopolizing the natural commons (i.e. land, water, air, wildlife, minerals, spectrum, orbits, etc.).

To not do this is in fact unlibertarian, as it leaves entire categories of aggression unpunished.

A Country Farmer writes:

slide 6: "no fault of there own" ... should be their

AS writes:

Bryan Caplan: Your identification of "monitoring government as public good" is groundbreaking. If public goods are underprovided; government is bad. If public goods are sufficiently provided; government is unnecessary. Is there any literature with a more formal proof of this?

Brian Holtz: How do you solve the public choice problem of implementing a geopibertarian policy optimally?

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