America’s Transfer State

Source: Law & Liberty
by John O McGinnis

“The runaway entitlements of today’s transfer state reflect some of the inherent flaws in democracy. Liberal democracy has succeeded in protecting minorities by constitutionalizing rights. But it is much harder to prevent current majorities from harming future ones, endangering the liberty and security of all. Democracy’s critics have always worried that the numerous poor would take from the rich, impoverishing all and leading to social conflict and tyranny. But advanced democracies do their transfers differently from ancient ones. The power of the middle class in modern democracy tends to direct the lion’s share of entitlement spending to members of the middle class with little if any means testing. Consistent with the public choice view that democratic legislatures favor concentrated groups over more diffuse ones, transfer spending is then directed to groups that are defined by some fixed characteristic, like age, occupation, home ownership, or level of higher education.” (05/30/24)