That was a very illuminating read. While I would in the past have agreed that I want smaller or less government I would not have thought to neatly categorise the offerings. Many times I have been told anarchy is best and all services should be via the free market. This is kind of silly, we need arbiters and keepers of title deeds at least and most will agree to this.

I contend that no government leads to wild west and rule by force or threat of force. I don't want that so I am in favour of SOME government. As you describe it is difficult to determine exactly which bits are good when more and which bits are kind of pathological if they increase.

I would be delighted if you would have a look at the difference between UNCONDITIONAL Basic Income and UNIVERSAL Basic income and why one may save humanity by making people able to choose what services they WANT and the other is a slave yoke that will eventually or deliberately morph into a draconian social credit system akin to means tested benefit programs with benefit traps, coercion, big brothering and forced loyalty.

I would love it if there was a strong enough case for UNIVERSAL Basic Income that could be sold to everyone so that it would actually happen. A situation where all national income is filtered through the electorate FIRST and then the government budget is clawed back with a flat tax rate from all earned income from any method but taxed ONLY ONCE.

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The family unit you describe is one of the best of all governments: Benevolent Dictatorship.

Some thoughts:

"More diversity leads to more demand for punitive legislation over behavior, but less supply, and supply tends to dominate. This tends towards smaller government with more diversity, but the regulatory side might dominate the personal side and go the other direction."

It tends towards larger government initially as demands are attempted to be met (and then given lip-service as the government instead meets it's own expanding demands), and then in collapse, which leads to much smaller government.

"More diversity leads to less demand for social services sometimes, and it could go either way on supply. Possibly smaller government with more diversity (although it might feel bigger.)"

I know of no examples where more diversity leads to less demand for social services under any conditions. I know of several (USA and Sweden come to mind) where it has resulted in more demand. This also demonstrates against your second sentence.

"Possibly the size of the polity makes supplying everything easier, either through ready cash or ability to hide what you are doing. This drives towards larger government."

I would say only the ability to hide what you are doing, until it collapses.

"In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion." -Lee Kuan Yew


“Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. You spoil it with too much poking.” -Lao Tsu (600 BCE)


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Many thanks for this response. Very thoughtful and I agree with many of the points.

I know you are (justifiably) sceptical of modelling but this is an instance where some algebra and some clearly specified assumptions would really help!

Specifically the missing ingredient is price. We are discussing quantity of government action, we have demand, we have supply, but no clearly specified 'price'.

If you have read Caplan's 'Myth of the Rational Voter' he would argue that on the demand side there really is no meaningful price because individual voters have no influence, so they can indulge their whims at no cost. But then again maybe this is one of the things that differs between societies? In some societies people have greater care for others and for the future and are more responsible in their politics?

What is the price on the supply side then? If I am a politician facing demands for specific regulation, say for social media platforms. What is the price I am facing for not doing this?

Merry Christmas to you and your family, I look forward to more discussions in the new year.

PS your assumption was correct, I am not a dog ......

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To add to my other comment, Arnold Klong discusses some very similar issues in his latest post in case you didn't see it: https://arnoldkling.substack.com/p/government-does-not-stay-limited/comments

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Often the term 'small gov't' really means a centralized weak gov't, not localized gov't with actual power over their own territory, assets and laws. Pardon me if you already answered this--I got distracted in the middle of reading so there was a break in between--which do you mean?

I hope you were counting me in those 60% of women economists for small gov't that you know. I think that you read my post on The Caret System where I compare the economic system I used for my kids to my economic model for small gov'ts. I think my household was very similar to yours (including the three girls if I'm remembering correctly). But I got stuck on what the consequences are when the rules of the benevolent dictator aren't followed. Physical force is frowned upon and psychological manipulation (I'm so disappointed in you) has limited utility, in my experience.

UBI might be compared to an allowance that every kid gets, along with free room & board, healthcare, education, transportation, energy & utilities. You can't very well take the latter seven away from your kids or make them earn them. So that extra for luxuries is something that I used as incentives (which matter!)

In the same way, a fair system would curb wealth monopoly and provide dividends (like UBI) that can only be spent freely after they're earned by providing those basics to each other. If everyone gets UBI, who provides the goods and services that UBI buys? Do those people get more stuff and better houses? Rather than looking at this as a consumer, I think an economist has to develop a plan for the production side because the money is worthless if no one's making or growing or doing.

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