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Why Progressive Institutions are Unsustainable (Encounter Broadsides) Paperback – November 29, 2011
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A classical liberal, Epstein believes that well designed tax and regulatory structure by government promotes growth. Progressive institutions, however, are not well designed. Using high marginal tax rates and an ideology that supports redistribution will in fact promote an economic recession. Epstein suggests that we adopt a flat tax system and limit regulation to clear and simple laws governing commerce.
This is all well and good, so far as it goes. But one has to ask, why should we expect any governing institution to limit itself? If public choice economics has established anything in the last 20 years, it is that governing institutions are always expanding their size and reach. The incentives faced by public service employees work differently than those of private employees. The former have a strong incentive to expand their budgets and reach well past the marginal benefit gained by their actions. The latter do not. As a result, regulatory agencies grow over time, while providing less and less nominal benefit. Eventually they end up like the EPA, mandating enormous costs on industry, but offering little in the way of actual measureable benefits. But this growth also creates wealth inequalities by favoring existing industry over new start ups. And the result is a demand for "progressive" institutions that redistribute wealth and ultimately hurt society as a whole.
The bottom line then is that classical liberalism is a myth.Read more ›
Dr Epstein brilliantly describes why so called progressive policies typically hurt the very people they are intended to help (well they are really intended to help the politicians not the poor, but that's a different conversation.
It's a "broadside" not a tome, which means it gives the high level argument, not the gory statistical analysis. Even so, the arguments are so lucid and clear that they are extremely difficult to ignore.
Epstein contrasts the classical liberalism (referred to today as conservatism or libertarianism) that elevated the United States from infant nation in the late eighteenth century to leading world power a mere century and a half later with the progressive policies that came into vogue during the twentieth century and that lead to stagnation and decline whenever and wherever they are tried.
Property rights, freedom of contract, and open competition in free markets are some of the chief tenets of classical liberalism. Epstein explains that these pro-growth policies have to be defended constantly from rent-seekers and other factions, and how since the Great Depression free markets and pro-growth policies have not been defended vigorously enough but have instead eroded, with negative results for the economy and for society.
Epstein provides concrete advantages of classical liberalism and the concomitant disadvantages of progressivism, and explains the difference between constitutionally legitimate and illegitimate uses of taxation and government spending.
"Why Progressive Institutions Are Unsustainable" concentrates on economics, but astute readers will be able to realize how the ideas Epstein advances in this booklet that can be read in an hour also apply to certain areas in social issues and foreign policy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you liked Milton Friedman, you will like Richard Epstein too. In this book, he illustrates why, for all their good intentions, progressive liberal institutions simply cannot... Read morePublished 1 month ago by SMB
Epstein is a colossus, and his arguments are rock solid. 4 stars because it is definitely not easy reading. (Then again, the subject matter is complicated.)Published on October 15, 2012 by Vincenzo Fiorentini
If you want to learn the perspective of a conservative/libertarian leaning political organization the broadside encounter books are a wonderful opportunity to explore topics in an... Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Tina G. Mcmillan