From Alan Metzler’s piece, A Welfare State or a Start-Up Nation? in the Wall Street Journal Opinion today:
Who you vote for in the next election will largely be determined by how you answer the following question: Should we encourage more productive use of resources or more social welfare?
Transfers, grants and redistribution did little to raise living standards in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Capitalist development and open economies lifted vastly more people out of poverty in a decade than welfare state policies had achieved in 50 years. Japan in the 1950s began to force its producers to compete in world markets. That forced its firms to use resources more productively. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and eventually China and India followed the Japanese growth model. Chile was an early successful convert; now we have Brazil and parts of Africa.
The lesson applies here in the U.S as well. The welfare of the citizens—poor, middle-class and wealthy—is best improved by using resources more productively. Of course, increased productivity isn’t an instant cure for what ails us; there is no instant cure.
Mr. Obama and his followers claim they want a solution that is “fair.” Why is it fair to distribute more welfare to today’s voters at the expense of their children and grandchildren who will pay for this less productive use of resources? This is the same “fair” approach that Europeans chose decades ago, and which led to chronic low growth and high unemployment.
It isn’t fair to tax future generations just because they can’t vote.
Some folks I know believe man-made climate change is a problem and often justify their concern by claiming that we owe it to future generations to take care of the planet.
It’s not clear to me, however, why these folks seem to have such heightened environmental concerns for future generations, yet so little regard for the financial baggage we are leaving them. Deficit spending is nothing more than passing the bill onto future generations for our government’s lack of ability to prioritize today.
Metzler’s previous passage reminded me of that observation.