Gary Talks With Mary

by Don Boudreaux on March 21, 2009

in The Economy

The Wall Street Journal's indispensable Mary Anastasia O'Grady has a conversation with Gary Becker.  Here are the concluding paragraphs:

That suggests that there is a risk to the U.S. system with more
people relying on entitlements. "Well, they become an interest group,"
Mr. Becker says. "The more you have dependence on the government, the
stronger the interest group of people who want to maintain it. That's
one reason why it is so hard to get any major reform in reducing
government spending in Scandinavia and it is increasingly so in the
United States. The government is spending — at the federal, state and
local level — a third of GDP, and that share will go up now. The
higher it is the more people who are directly or indirectly dependent
on the government. I am worried about that. The basic theory of
interest-group politics says that they will have more influence and
their influence will be to try to maintain this, and it will be hard to
go back."

Still, there remain many good reasons to continue the struggle
against the current trend, Mr. Becker says. "When the market economy is
compared to alternatives, nothing is better at raising productivity,
reducing poverty, improving health and integrating the people of the


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