If transfer payments and subsidies were limited to low-income individuals, this would be a book merely about the welfare state. But the reliance on [other peoples' money] extends far beyond the poor into corporate America, upper-income owners of beach homes, affluent farmers, public employees, and entitled yuppies who have developed the habit and expectation of mooching off others.What follows, however, is a collection of examples, set off by the juiciest quotes Mr Sykes or his research team can find. There's little by way of systematic analysis, references to Robert Nozick or William Voegeli notwithstanding, and little by way of concrete action to change things. The absence of such a plan might be understandable. If, per Bastiat, the state is a grand fiction by which each attempts to live at the expense of the other, the dominant strategy equilibrium is one of going along to get along, because defection in the form of opting out of benefits, whether those be farm subsidies, student loans, deposit insurance, or food stamps, simply means consenting to be looted and mooched from without recompense. The book has the potential to make readers angry. Whether policies will change remains to be seen.
(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)