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Radical Decentralization

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Here’s a letter to the Los Angeles Times:

Bob Snodgrass writes that “The U.S. is too big for a single economic policy.  We must permit regional policy differences; for example, maybe Texas and other red states want to subsidize oil companies and professional sports, while blue states want to subsidize education, healthcare and libraries” (Letters [2], May 30).  Mr. Snodgrass is on to something, although he doesn’t go far enough.

Even better than permitting regional policy differences is permitting individual policy differences.  An individual who wants to subsidize oil companies with his own money should be free to do so; those of us who oppose such subsidies should be free not to do so.  A person who thinks that subsidized health-care is vital to her community should be at liberty to support it in whatever ways she wishes (including persuading others to join her), while people who think differently should be free to withhold support.

Once we recognize, as Mr. Snodgrass does, that different people have different demands, wishes, hopes, and expectations, the presumption should run strongly in favor of freedom of individual, rather than merely of “regional,” choice.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030