How Redistribution Really Works
By Bryan Caplan
From Olaf Gersemann’s Cowboy Capitalism:
In the United States 41.4 percent of the cash transfers go to the poorest 30 percent of the population.
Typical American indifference to the fate of the poor, right? Well, if that’s American indifference, then what’s the word for policy in Germany and Italy? In Germany, the poorest 30% get 31.7% of the cash transfers. In Italy, they get only 20.5%!
Above all, these numbers are just a reminder that, all around the world, the main recipients of government money are the old, not the poor. (And even the poor in First World countries are of course merely relatively poor, but never mind that for now). But Gersemann draws an interesting secondary lesson:
[C]ountries with small governments tend to spend their revenue more efficiently.
Bottom line: Even the United States could double its spending on the poorest 30%, and cut taxes to boot. So why are libertarians practically the only people who find these facts worth mentioning?