Kuttner, Galston, and the Debate Over the Social Safety Net

I take exception to most of the assumptions and conclusions in William Galston’s piece. For starters, the debate about entitlement programs is needs to be located within a larger debate about the mixed economy.

Galston begins by asserting:

“I take it we agree that suitably structured and regulated markets generate wealth more effectively than other economic systems but do not reliably produce either a reasonable distribution of prosperity’s fruits or an adequate level of security against life’s physical and financial vicissitudes.  It is for that reason, we agree, that since the 1930s the United States has developed a web of programs to assist the poor and vulnerable, to make work pay and provide protection against unemployment, and to ensure older Americans a decent retirement.”

In other words, let the market generate wealth and then redistribute as necessary after the fact. But depending on whether markets are in fact “suitably structured and regulated,” the welfare-state part of the system can complement the market part or be destroyed by it.

– Prospect

Read the full article here.