Origins of the Welfare State in America

7 01 2007

Standard theory views government as functional: a social need arises, and government, semi-automatically, springs up to fill that need. The analogy rests on the market economy: demand gives rise to supply (e.g., a demand for cream cheese will result in a supply of cream cheese on the market). But surely it is strained to say that, in the same way, a demand for postal services will spontaneously give rise to a government monopoly Post Office, outlawing its competition and giving us ever-poorer service for ever-higher prices.

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