Can Government Spending Be Cut After All?

"What if we can't make government smaller?" the Niskanen Center's Will Wilkinson asks. He says that the evidence, particularly Wagner's Law, shows that government spending is impervious to political assault, and libertarians should make their peace with big government. Instead, libertarians should focus on reforming regulations to foster competition and the market process. I have … Continue reading Can Government Spending Be Cut After All?

Saturday Afternoon Bemusement

Tyler Cowen makes the case that a large, inefficient public sector can be a good thing: we should not be trying to squeeze the entire economy into the shoebox of the dynamic but risky “Economy I.” For public choice reasons, as well understood by Karl Polanyi (an underrated public choice theorist if there ever was … Continue reading Saturday Afternoon Bemusement

All Hail Big Government?

In a period (probably a short one) in which big government is under siege, it is unsurprising to see Leviathan's advocates attempting to defend that mighty beast.  However, they've really gone overboard into the realm of indefensible hyperbole of late.  And I say that as someone who does not deny that the state has a proper role to play in … Continue reading All Hail Big Government?

How Big Should Government Be? New Survey Data

A new USA Today/Gallup poll asks people about their views on the size of government today and the ideal size of government. They categorize respondents into five, roughly equal groups: "keep it small" (favors small government in economic and moral matters), "morality first" (favors small government in economic matters but big government on moral questions), … Continue reading How Big Should Government Be? New Survey Data

Are Liberals Statists?

Conor Friedersdorf says no, but at Mother Jones Kevin Drum totes up the scorecard and says, pretty much, yes: If you can find liberals who favor charter schools, less regulation of small businesses, and an end to Fannie Mae, that's well and good. But that's 10% or less of my worldview. I also favor high … Continue reading Are Liberals Statists?

It’s Official: Government Employees Are Paid More

Controlling for everything else, a government employee can expect to make 12% more than a private employee. This shouldn't be a surprise, since private firms face a profit constraint: if they pay more than employees are worth, they go out of business. Government can always foist extra costs on the taxpayer, who doesn't have much … Continue reading It’s Official: Government Employees Are Paid More

Give hope a chance

I was struck yesterday by a reader's comment on David Brooks' recent column.  Self-identified "liberal" Elizabeth Fuller of Peterborough, NH gave a defense of leftist politics that was articulate, if not persuasive.   Among other things, she said: We love government not because it is always good, but because it is our only hope. Really?  Government … Continue reading Give hope a chance