Murray & Me

If you'll forgive me a moment of link-whoring, I've conducted a "10 questions" segment with Charles Murray over at Gene Expression (though it was really a collaborative effort). Here's a teaser:

1. Let's talk first about your latest project. You've stated that In Our Hands is an attempt to strike a compromise between your libertarian ideals and the current socio-political reality. The biggest worry about your plan from a libertarian point of view is that in practice it would create a large constituency who would vote to raise the grant on a regular basis, leaving the fiscal situation largely unchanged or possibly even worse. How does your plan deal with these kinds of public choice objections?

Mancur Olson and other public-choice theorists taught us that sugar farmers can get sugar subsidies because they care passionately about getting their benefit while no other constituency cares enough about preventing them from getting it. Under the Plan, the grant will be the only game in town (every other transfer is gone), and will affect every adult in the country. Every time Congress debates a change in the grant, it will be the biggest political news story in the country, and a very large chunk of the population--and people holding a huge majority of the monetary resources for fighting political battles--will lose money if it's raised. Compare the prospects for jacking up the grant with the certain knowledge we have of the trends in spending under the current system. They have sky-rocketed and will sky-rocket, through classic public choice dynamics. The Plan uses the only strategy I can conceive to get out of the public-choice box.

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Actually come to think of it

Actually come to think of it this is more link-masturbating. Or something.

You seem to have left out

You seem to have left out the crucial question "How the fuck will something like this every happen? Are you out of your fucking mind? Do you really think politicians will ever implement a program that screws themselves over?"

It's just like the Fair Tax - a good idea that will never happen. Coming up with better systems is easy, making them happen is impossible. He's done the easy part - I'm not impressed.

Patri - Its conceivable that

Patri - Its conceivable that such a thing could happen incrementally. Perhaps turning public education into a voucher program, replacing several hodge-podge welfare programs with EITC, and otherwise monetising other benefits. They could then be followed by consolidation. Although I believe the widespread support for any one of these programs individually would not be there, I think that once they are instituted people will be generally pleased with the results which will give further support and momentum for similar programs. See for example EITC and welfare reform. It was hotly debated at the time it was introduced but a decade later it is considered a wildly successful government program.