The idea of a streamlined welfare state is utterly foreign in today’s political climate. Offering some social services, but not others? Anathema — at least to our “progressives.”
It is also, even more obviously, not nurtured by current political process.
After all, we’ve witnessed two major expansions in “welfare” programs in the last decade, the bipartisan Medicare “Part D” and the Democrats’ “Obamacare.” The first was underfunded from the start, and the second was and remains a mess. Both are financial time bombs.
But if you think America has it bad, it’s worse in France.
Jean Tirole, the new (just announced) Nobel Laureate in Economics, calls the condition of the French labor market “catastrophic.” And he thinks France’s government has to be smaller.
Now, he’s no heir to J.-B. Say and Fredéric Bastiat. He does not support an extremely limited government, a “nightwatchman” state. He says he likes France’s basic model. But it has grown too far in size and scope:
Tirole remarked that northern European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, had proven you could keep a welfare social model with smaller government. In contrast, he said France’s “big state” threatened its social policies because there will not be “enough money to pay for it in the long run.”
He’s basically just demanding that government live within its means.
It’s not too far from common Tea Party sentiment.
But tell that to your average progressive pol. Or blogger. Or activist. Given protective cover for ever-growing spending by the likes of New York Times’s Nobel columnist, Paul Krugman, any idea of federal spending cutbacks have been and remain off limits.
Maybe Professor Tirole can convince them.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.