I’m giving a talk to

I’m giving a talk to 180 students this morning at the University of Maryland. It will present a libertarian view of the welfare state. I’m going to try to set forth a political economy perspective, in which the welfare state (or that small part aimed at the poor) has at least two elements: first is a system that denies people the opportunity to better their condition (think of licensing laws, zoning laws, etc., etc.); second is a system of wealth transfers and leaf-raking jobs. The combination is more stable than just the first element would be on its own. An example is the combination of agricultural price supports, which raise the price of food for the poor, with food stamps, which subsidize their purchase. (Of course, another stabilizing element of the system as it exists is the system of foreign aid that distributes overseas the subsidized agricultural surpluses that cannot be sold at high prices on the American market.)