Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sandy Levinson’s Challenge

Ilya Somin undertakes to answer... Sandy Levinson’s Challenge

Sandy Levinson argues that the recent mostly government-funded rescue of the trapped Chilean miners proves the need for a large welfare state. He also issues a challenge to the Volokh Conspiracy:
Might it be too threatening for, say, David Bernstein, who announced his forthcoming talk to the Federalist Society (with a comment to follow by Jack Balkin) on his new book that attempts to rehabilitate Lochner, to admit that at least sometimes there is a role for the “rescuing state,” which, almost by definition, must take from those who have in order to provide for those who don’t?

He responds in part:

As I pointed out in a recent response to one of Sandy’s co-bloggers, it is perfectly consistent to believe on the one hand that government should provide some degree of assistance to those of the poor who genuinely can’t care for themselves, while also arguing for a massive reduction in government intervention in the economy. That was the view of libertarian thinkers such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. Much government intervention benefits not the poor, but the wealthy and well-organized interest groups, who generally have vastly greater political power than the poor do.
As I noted in my last post, there is actually a lot of historical evidence that private sector institutions often do a better job than the state in aiding the poor as well as the rich and middle class. But even if you believe, as I do, that some degree of government redistribution to the poor is needed, that doesn’t justify anything remotely resembling today’s overgrown government. Indeed, redistribution to the genuinely needy would be far easier to maintain if it weren’t for the looming fiscal crisis created in large part by enormous bailouts and entitlement programs that mostly benefit the nonpoor.

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