Redistribution and the State

Article by E.D. Kain.
I’ve written recently about what I termed ‘front-end’ redistribution. That is, redistribution of wealth and resources prior to state redistribution – or, the way it should be in a perfect world. One example of this is collective bargaining between organized labor and management. Another would be ending the War on Drugs.

Over at Bleeding-Heart Libertarians, Gary Chartier lists several ways that redistribution can occur absent taxation and government spending.

1. The elimination of privilege. Existing market structures feature a broad range of privileges that shift resources into the pockets of the wealthy and well connected—whilemaking and keeping others poor. Think occupational licensure, patents and copyrights, zoning laws and building codes, the use of eminent domain to benefit developers and their clients, transportation subsidies, and tariffs, just for starters.

Generally speaking, these are good ideas, though obviously actually getting to a point where we could undo patent law and zoning codes altogether would require a hugely steep uphill political battle. Indeed, many of Gary’s ideas would require enormous political will and resources, so even if they are not government solutions per se they are nonetheless solutions which the government will inevitably be a part of. Indeed, my example – organized labor – would require a political solution as well: repeal of Taft-Hartley and the Wagner Act in particular. All non-state solutions nonetheless require political process – which can make good libertarian policies really hard to actually achieve.

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