The Right Issue, The Wrong Time

Greg Mankiw gets the issue right, but I doubt that a discussion of Rawles and Nozick’s views will interest most people. People are busy following the campaigns, where there is plenty of nonsense to grab everyone’s attention. There’s not time for thoughtful discussions about the role of government in society. And relatively few people are familiar with the various arguments, trade-offs, and history.

There will always be support for those who promise a chicken in every pot, prosperity for all, and universal health care. And promises are cheap. Politicians will always want to pull the levers of society, partly due to hubris and partly due to more concrete rewards. Serious people have worried about this through the ages, and our Founding Fathers made a pretty good attempt to design a government that constrained politicians. Nevertheless, politicians have gnawed away at the constraints and we are where we are.


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