28 April 2010

a summary of pragmatism

"Here are the key market failures:

1. Inequality—The solution is redistributive taxes.

2. Externalities (and second-hand smoke is not an externality)—The solution is Pigou taxes.

3. Monopoly—The solution is antitrust laws. And with free entry the only plausible problem is price-fixing cartels. Even anti-merger laws are of dubious value.

4. Public goods—only a few goods such as lighthouses and medical research meet the criteria, and even lighthouses are a dubious example."

That's buried toward the bottom, but described directly above it is the utilitarian process used to arrive first at something like left-liberalism, and then the process used to arrive at solutions to the major problems illuminated by such views through public policy. By people who actually care if the solutions work.
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