Or Maybe Leviathan Just Needs More Time

by Don Boudreaux on August 19, 2014

in Man of System

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Michael Gerson mocks Sen. Rand Paul’s “belief in a minimal state” in part because, in Mr. Gerson’s estimation, such a state would be “incapable of addressing poverty and stalled mobility.” (“Rand Paul is no Jack Kemp,” Aug. 19).  What a curious argument given that the very poverty and stalled mobility that Mr. Gerson laments and claims to be incurable in a society with a minimal state actually exist with our current engorged state - a state that for 80 years now has operated New Deal programs, and for 50 years now has practiced Great Society social engineering.

Whatever its merits or demerits, a minimal state is unlikely to have less success at reducing poverty and increasing mobility than is displayed by the intrusive and gargantuan state that Mr. Gerson seems keen to protect.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030​

Note that while I do not believe that poverty and economic mobility are as dire today in America as most “Progressives” insist (again, a curious insistence by “Progressives,” given that it seems to be an indictment of their very own economic and policy notions), I read Gerson as saying that such problems do exist today, and are rather dire.  Note also that I believe that the quality of life of all Americans would be even higher were Leviathan to be trimmed down greatly to something that could legitimately be called a “minimal state” – and the more minimal, the better.

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