In Defense of the Welfare State
December 24, 2014
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Tony Judt pens an excellent defense of the welfare state here. This passionate and measured essay is itself an education and well worth reading with some care. It will be deeply disturbing to those whose perspective of states and markets is shallow and dogmatic. What I found most fascinating — something we rarely debate — is the discussion of the scope of public goods and their value. I share Judt’s perspective and have had a lot of fun debating this point of view with my colonels. The reason is that they get intuitively the notion that the end of public investment in war is not market efficiency but victory. I push them to think about the goals of investments in other public goods. I ask them: what is victory in education, prisons, or public health? Then the conversation gets really interesting and productive.