–WallStats.com has a huge Death And Taxes poster (for sale) that you can magnify to see Federal Spending. Can’t see that much of it anymore without buying.
–Roger Kimball links to OpenTheBooks.com, a work in progress which links to state, local, and federal government salaries and spending. Comments are worth a read at Kimball’s piece.
-Check out those university salaries. The Chronicle Of Higher Education did a State Of Academe in 2012.
If I’m not mistaken, the old greatness model used to incentivize the private sector more, whereas now some of the young, talented and ambitious may be more comfortable moving to D.C. and into the public sector and our universities. There are problems with that, too.
Unsustainable entitlement spending, the boomer generation retiring, a pension system in crisis, a really complicated tax system, rising health care costs, a deep recession, high unemployment and an especially partisan politics.
As I’m neither a lawyer nor an economist, feel free to chime in. Epstein is intense.
Once you convince yourself that the business of government is to ‘worry about the elimination of wealth differentials,” as he states, then you will almost always end up shrinking the pie. Epstein advocates keeping the pie growing, and removing barriers for people to enter into voluntary exchanges where both parties can benefit.
The income inequality folks often end up making more inequality through good intentions, cinching off the economy at its top through crony capitalism (favoring a few business winners and creating barriers to market entry along with enormous, inefficient bureaucracies). They can also increase the politicians’ control over the money supply, eroding capital and tying outcomes to short-term political cycles. Aiming for more equality often leads to less equality, much as the equality of outcome folks want more one-man, one-vote democracy, which is pretty much impossible in practice.
The whole thing slows down and/or stalls as people fight more over less.
***Say you’re more conservative, or religious, a Burkean, a la Kirk, or very interested in what keeps families together and the restraints necessary upon individuals and their own passions, helping to pursue life, liberty and some happiness. As a libertarian law/economics thinker, Epstein makes the case that conservatism is great for genetic relations and family units, but not always scalable beyond these smaller circles necessary to maintain greater freedoms in civil society: our families, churches and civic organizations. He advocates a broader system of voluntarily entered into agreements and contracts, through Chicago School economic theory, which keeps the pie growing below in a large republic like ours.
***One concern from the conservative perspective is that libertarian theory can introduce an individualism into people’s lives that is destructive as much as constructive, one that can flirt with anarchy, anti-traditional, anti-authority. Maybe that individualism is already here, as a friend points out, and if so, perhaps it’s better than filling the postmodern hole with rights-based secular humanism, collectivism, or tying postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism proper. There is both a classically liberal and a deeply anarchic libertarianism.