September 30th, 2003


Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism

[I prefer no welfare subsidies at all, but Kling's proposal seems better than the current welfare system.]

Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism
By Arnold Kling

"I am a bleeding heart libertarian. Because I'm a nice guy and want to address society's problems and I want disadvantaged people to become better advantaged. By instincts and experience I believe that government seldom delivers the benefits the "bleeding heart liberals" and "big government conservatives" always seem to hope for. In many cases government only makes things worse. As with technology and prose, less is often more. I'm not one of those doctrinaire Big-L Libertarians who want to eliminate government. My aim is to improve government by making it smaller. The most important part of this process is to persuade our fellow citizens to demand less of our government."
-- Stefan Sharkansky

Of the roughly $3 trillion that government in the United States at all levels collects in taxes of all kinds, close to two-thirds goes to pay for Social Security, education, and health care. This is the Welfare State.

The conventional wisdom is that the intent of the Welfare State is to reduce the disparity between the unfortunate and the well-off. The Welfare State supposedly redistributes income and reduces poverty. In fact, I believe that the Welfare State redistributes poverty and reduces income. As Karl Kraus once said of psychoanalysis, the Welfare State is the disease which it purports to cure.

The Bleeding-Heart Libertarian Approach

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