Quotulatiousness

January 8, 2012

George F. Will on big government

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economics, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:54

Even fans of bigger government should recognize the accuracy of this short summary:

Liberals have a rendezvous with regret. Their largest achievement is today’s redistributionist government. But such government is inherently regressive: It tends to distribute power and money to the strong, including itself.

Government becomes big by having big ambitions for supplanting markets as society’s primary allocator of wealth and opportunity. Therefore it becomes a magnet for factions muscular enough, in money or numbers or both, to bend government to their advantage.

The left’s centuries-old mission is to increase social harmony by decreasing antagonisms arising from disparities of wealth — to decrease inequality by increasing government’s redistributive activities. Such government constantly expands under the unending, indeed intensifying, pressures to correct what it disapproves of — the distribution of wealth produced by consensual market activities. But as government presumes to dictate the correct distribution of social rewards, the maelstrom of contemporary politics demonstrates that social strife, not solidarity, is generated by government transfer payments to preferred groups.

[. . .]

The tax code, government’s favorite instrument for distributing wealth to favored factions, has been tweaked about 4,500 times in 10 years. Generally, the beneficiaries of these changes are interests sufficiently strong and sophisticated to practice rent-seeking.

Not only does redistributionist government direct wealth upward; in asserting a right to do so it siphons power into itself. A puzzling aspect of our politically contentious era is how little contention there is about the ethics of coercive redistribution by progressive taxation and other government “corrections” of social outcomes it considers unethical or unaesthetic.

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