An indication that modern liberals and conservatives will never, ever be able to agree
Robert Creamer, "Time for Progressive to Stand Up Proudly for Government":
This year progressives, lead by President Obama, have stopped apologizing for our view the proper role of government, and begun to assert that Reagan was fundamentally wrong when he said government was the problem. Instead, as Congressman Barney Frank says, government is the name we give to the things we choose to do together.
The right wing argues that government can never do things as well as the "private sector."
Government is not always the solution, any more than it is always the problem. But in many cases, progressives know that it is more efficient, more effective and more consistent with the values of a democratic society for all of us to do something together - through our government.
Progressive leaders need to finish getting out of that defensive crouch, stand up straight, and assert our view of government forcefully and without apology.
Robert Higgs, "Nineteen Neglected Consequences of Income Redistribution":
Virtually every government action changes the personal distribution of income, but some government programs, which give money, goods, or services to individuals who give nothing in exchange, represent income redistribution in its starkest form. . . .
It is tempting to think about government transfers in a simple way: one person, taxpayer T, loses a certain amount of money; another person, recipient R, gains the same amount; and everything else remains the same. When people look at income redistribution in this way, they tend to make a judgment about the desirability of the transfer simply by considering whether T or R is the more deserving. Commonly, especially when the issue is discussed in the news media or by left-liberal politicians, R is portrayed as a representative of the poor and downtrodden and T as a wealthy person or a big corporation. Opponents of the transfers then appear callous and lacking in compassion for the less fortunate.
In fact, the overwhelming portion—more than 85 percent—of all government transfer payments is not “means-tested,” that is, not reserved for low-income recipients.2 The biggest share goes to the elderly as pensions and Medicare benefits, and anyone over 65 years old, rich and poor alike, can receive these benefits. Today people over 65 have the highest income per person and the highest wealth per person of any age group in the United States. Federal transfer payments to farmers present an even more extreme case of giving to those who are already relatively well off. In 1989, for example, the federal government paid about $15 billion to farmers in direct crop subsidies, and 67 percent of the money went to the owners of the largest 17 percent of the farms—in many cases payments to farmers are literally welfare for millionaires.3 It is simply a hoax that, as a rule, government is taking from the rich for the benefit of the poor. Even people who believe in the rectitude of redistribution à la Robin Hood ought to be troubled by the true character of the redistribution being effected by governments in America today.
But apart from the troubling moral questions raised by redistribution, the issue is far more complicated than ordinarily considered. Beyond the naked fact that T pays taxes to the government and the government gives goods, services, or money to R, at least 19 other consequences occur when the government redistributes income.