So Close

Sven Thommesen writes:

This column by Robert Samuelson is very good — and so close to being excellent. His description of what he calls the “spoils society” is spot on, with several good examples. His spoils society looks a lot like what is otherwise called crony capitalism — except he also includes scenarios where ordinary citizen voters vote for programs that will pick the other guy’s pockets for them.

The “so close” part arises because Samuelson is, at the end of the day, a neoclassical economist, so he feels compelled to say that “redistribution is both good and bad” not to mention “up to a point, these redistributive conflicts are unavoidable and even desirable.”

No, sorry, redistribution is thievery, no matter how the welfare economist tries to justify it. The column reminds me of the old joke whose punch line is “We have just established what you are, madam, now we are dickering over the price.”