I’m used to being attacked, but usually by statists. In a man-bites-dog development, here’s a 12-1/2-minute video dedicated to the proposition that I was hopelessly squishy in my Rahn Curve video.
What makes this situation rather ironic is that I agree with the guy tearing me a new you-know-what.
But this is also my defense. At the risk of oversimplifying, his critiques fall into two categories.
One category could be called sins of omission. To cite an example, he correctly points out that the growth-maximizing level of government may or may not be accurate, depending on how the money is being spent. For instance, if government only consumes 5 percent of GDP, but spends that money on law enforcement, that might be good (the video also notes, quite accurately, that law enforcement can be bad if the police are enforcing oppressive policies). If that modest level of government is devoted to welfare, by contrast, that would be bad. At the risk of stating the obvious (or at least what I hope everybody who reads this blog has already figured out), I obviously agree. But when I put together these videos, all sorts of simplifying assumptions must be made to keep them to a reasonable length. In many instances, the final video only includes about one-half of what was in the original script. So I plead guilty of not fully elaborating, but I limit details because I think too much information would undermine my goal of reaching people who are not already true believers.
The other category could be called bad assumptions, and here’s where I would argue that my critic is being a bit unfair. My main example is that he implies that I support a government that consumes 20 percent of GDP. Yet I think a careful viewer would agree that all I’m saying is that the existing academic research identifies this level of government spending as being consistent with maximum growth. But the last part of the video is my (hopefully compelling) argument that the actual growth-maximizing level of government spending is much lower than 20 percent of economic output.
That being said, it is always a good idea to be suspicious about anybody from Washington. I haven’t sold out yet, but that certainly happens quite often in Washington. So I welcome readers to pick through my blog posts with a fine-toothed comb.