David Brooks makes a point I’ve been screaming about for years:
When you include both direct spending and tax expenditures, the U.S. has one of the biggest welfare states in the world. We rank behind Sweden and ahead of Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Canada. Social spending in the U.S.is far above the organization’s average
In other words, it is quite possible that in the US the government is as large if not larger than in many other places. And one reason why the European social democracies may work better is that they are actually smaller and more importantly more consistent with the rule of law and transparency.
Brooks should have gone further. In the US, with every union job that has been lost, a person covered by an occupation license has increased. In the US we have taxes, spending and regulation at three levels of government. We have GSE’s that are not on the government’s balance sheet. We have implicit guarantees for private and state pensions (at least a trillion in the red right now). It would be a “fun” exercise if someone were to put together a list of all the shadow socialism we have here, you’d be busy.