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The Galling Galston

I wonder sometimes how the reasonably sensible Bill Galston can remain in today’s Democratic Party, whose obsession with equality has elided into pure, envy-filled resentment of the successful.  There’s a reason why envy was long considered one of the seven deadly sins, and to give voice to this in punitive redistributive policy, as Democrats now so clearly wish to do, may well prove deadly to American society.

Writing in the lefty American Prospect, Galston soberly points out some unpleasant realities to his fellow liberals with regard to how to fix entitlement programs that are fast going broke:

Many progressives believe that what should give way is the current limits on government: the United States should do all of the above, raising taxes and expanding government as needed to fund and implement them.  Setting aside potential political obstacles, there are some fiscal and economic considerations that warrant caution.

Most Americans believe that the U.S. public sector is substantially smaller than its European counterparts.  In fact, the gap is relatively modest.  According to the OECD, U.S. government expenditures totaled 41.7 percent of GDP in 2011, compared to 45.3 percent for Germany and 44.5 percent for Norway.  To be sure, some OECD countries (France and Sweden, for example) spent substantially more, but others (Japan and Switzerland) spent less.  Although the United States is a bit below average in public outlays, it is not a conspicuous outlier.  The same is true for public revenues, which now total about 36 percent of GDP.

My guess is these facts about spending and Galston’s caution against higher taxes will fall on deaf ears among Democrats.

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