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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 291 of the late, great Harold Demsetz’s brilliant 1982 lecture “Competition in the Public Sector,” as this lecture is reprinted in volume II of the 1989 collection of some of Demsetz’s most important articles, Efficiency, Competition, and Policy (original emphasis):

It would also seem to be the case that the median voter of future generations should desire much less present wealth redistribution. If the future generations could vote today, not knowing whose sons or daughters they were to become, they would have no interest in present wealth redistribution, or at most, their interest would be limited largely to the purchase of insurance against delivery of excessively poor parents. Political activity for redistributionist purposes, then, hardly can be viewed as catering to the interests of the representative future generation. The reduced rate of per capita growth in income in those democracies that have succumbed most to redistribution (England between 1946 and 1980 for example), is consistent with political inattention to the future. The incessant din of present calls for wealth redistribution makes it difficult for politicians to hear the pleas of future generations. In the political arena, those generations bear a considerable competitive disadvantage.

DBx: Brilliant, as was usual with Demsetz.

So here’s a modest proposal: only those who speak out forcefully and consistently against government budget deficits and the growth of unfunded liabilities – as well as against government efforts to ‘redistribute’ income or wealth – get to complain about government allegedly ignoring the welfare of future generations by its failure to enact the likes of carbon taxes and other such environment-motivated restrictions on economic activity.


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