UPDATED AND MOVED TO THE FRONT (9/2/14) – The Cato Unbound symposium is now complete. Here’s an up to date summary of everything that was written.
The debate over my essay, “The Pragmatic Libertarian Case for a Basic Income Guarantee” rages on at Cato Unbound, and elsewhere around the web. Here’s a roundup of some of the most notable responses so far.
At Cato Unbound:
- Mike Huemer argues that states lack the authority necessarily to implement a BIG, and also takes issues with the freedom- and reparations-based arguments for a BIG that I’ve made elsewhere.
- Jim Manzi worries about the work disincentives that a BIG would produce, and doubts that my idealistic proposal would look quite so attractive once filtered through real-world political processes.
- Robert Frank thinks a generous BIG would generate too much resentment among taxpayers, and argues instead for a very modest cash grant supplemented by a greatly expanded program of public employment.
- In “The Gospel of Work,” I argue that neither economic theory nor the available empirical evidence supports Jim Manzi’s claim that a BIG would create significant work disincentives. And such work disincentives that it would create aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
- Mike Huemer takes issue with Robert Frank’s argument that taxation isn’t theft.
- In “On Safety Nets, Political Authority, and Henry George,” I respond to Huemer’s anarchist challenge by arguing that a modest safety net might violate libertarian property rights, because it might be part of the justification of those rights. I close by suggesting that a BIG might best be funded by a land value tax (LVT).
- Mike Huemer responds to my essay on Georgism here and here, raising some worries about how much revenue a LVT would actually raise given that much of land’s value derives from the productive efforts of other people, not the intrinsic qualities of the land.
- I argue that Mike’s appeal to population density value isn’t a problem for Georgism. It’s not the mere fact that a landowner benefits from the positive externalities of others’ labor isn’t itself a problem. It’s the forcibly excluding others from doing so.
- Jim Manzi presses me on the issue of work disincentives, arguing that a BIG clearly would reduce work effort and that the burden of proof is on me to show that this is not a problem.
- In a probing and thoughtful essay, Mike Tanner worries that a BIG achieves simplicity at too great a cost – both financial and moral.
- Ed Dolan weighs in with a few supportive comments of his own on the pragmatic libertarian case for a BIG.
- Finally, in “BIG and BIGger,” I argue that a BIG is not only desirable, it is politically feasible. If not wholesale, than at least piecemeal.
- Mike Konzcal argues that I’ve given the current welfare state a bad rap. Paul Krugman agrees.
- Noah Smith doesn’t, but thinks that libertarians like me who defend a BIG have fallen in to a trap. Ruh-roh.
- Karl Widerquist explores the hidden assumptions about property and freedom in Jim Manzi’s critique of the BIG.
- and, finally, Ed Dolan wrote a terrific two part series on the theory and evidence regarding BIGs and employment disincentives.
All in all, it was a terrific debate. Thanks to Jason Kuznicki for setting it up, and to Mike, Robert, and Jim for their thoughtful and constructive replies.