New Issue of Econ Journal Watch: Economists on the Welfare State and the Regulatory State: Why Don’t Any Argue in Favor of One and Against the Other?

For those of you who don’t know Fred is an Editor for the Journal and Warren is its math reader, so this occasion is very much a family affair. Here is the low-down:

Economists on the Welfare State and the Regulatory State: Why Don’t Any Argue in Favor of One and Against the Other?

The symposium Prologue suggests that among economists in the United States, on matters of the welfare state and the regulatory state, virtually none favors one while opposing the other. Such pattern is a common and intuitive impression, and is supported by scatterplots of survey data. But what explains the pattern? Why don’t some economists favor one and oppose the other?

Contributors address those questions:

Dean Baker: Do Welfare State Liberals Also Love Regulation?

Andreas Bergh: Yes, There Are Hayekian Welfare States (At Least in Theory)

Marjorie Griffin Cohen: The Strange Career of Regulation in the Welfare State

Robert Higgs: Two Ideological Ships Passing in the Night

Arnold Kling: Differences in Opinion Among Economists About Government and Market Efficiency

Anthony Randazzo and Jonathan Haidt: The Moral Narratives of Economists

Scott Sumner: Moral Differences in Economics: Why Is the Left-Right Divide Widening?

Cass Sunstein: Unhelpful Abstractions and the Standard View

There is a lot more here. You can find Econ Journal Watch‘s home page here, on our ‘Recommendations’ page.

10 thoughts on “New Issue of Econ Journal Watch: Economists on the Welfare State and the Regulatory State: Why Don’t Any Argue in Favor of One and Against the Other?

    • Glad to hear it!

      Don’t leave us hanging, and please give us your feedback on his argument (when you have the time, of course). I thought it was pretty damn good, but what he’s missing, and most people miss, is a shout-out for a tax regime that is much more efficient and light to the touch: the LVT.

      As an editor for the Journal I hope Fred can push for more arguments that look for a synthesis between the left-libertarianism of Bergh (and, really, Friedman and Hayek) and the Georgism of Fred himself.

  1. “In particular, there is a possibility of what I will call Hayekian welfare state programs, which require
    high levels of public expenditure but do not suffer severely from the Hayekian
    knowledge problem, and where taxes and benefits are designed to minimize distortions.”

    I won’t claim competence to evaluate his argument, it’s his conclusion [above] that I find heartening as a progressive. The LVT would certainly qualify vis-à-vis efficiency but is agnostic as to benefits/public expenditures is it not?

    • The LVT would certainly qualify vis-à-vis efficiency but is agnostic as to benefits/public expenditures is it not?

      I dunno. My first instinct is to say “no.”

      Lemme see if I can brow-beat Fred into answering the question. (He had an unpleasant experience in the threads when we were first starting out. At the time I was a bit more lax with the moderation and Fred got trolled by some Ron Paul fan peddling protectionism.)

  2. LVT (land value taxation) provides public revenue efficiency, but also promotes greater equality, as it equalizes the portion of income from land. So LVT increases equality without sacrificing efficienty, indeed promoting efficiency. Also, LVT prevents what is otherwise a subsidy to landownership, as public goods generate higher rent and land value if paid for by taxes on others.

    As to public expenditures, LVT should fund true national defense, courts of law, and protection from violence. The rest of the revenues should be distributed to all residents equally. The portion going to children should be in the form of education vouchers. This equal distribution of the land rent would provide an income floor that would enable government to abolish today’s welfare system. The elimination of taxes on labor, goods, and investment income would promote fuller employment and reduce poverty. The combination of rent income plus untaxed labor and goods would probably extirpate poverty. Henry George did not favor a welfare state but rather the extirpation of poverty, pulling it out by the roots.

      • I don’t know if Dr Foldvary answered your question about the agnosticism of an LVT, but the issue this raises for me is the concept of poverty as ‘relative’.

        Even if the LVT can extirpate poverty in George’s sense of the term (“absolute poverty” in some sense that we all know but are too lazy to describe), I still don’t think it’s possible to eliminate relative poverty because we cannot eliminate greed and jealousy from the human psyche (unless we all convert to the one true religion: Brandonism; just pay me a tithe – ten percent of your monthly earnings – and allow me unencumbered access to your daughters and wives and you’ll be greed- and envy-free!).

Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)

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