"You can think of two theories of government. One theory is that government exists to correct externalities and provide public goods. The other is that government uses the language of helping people to justify giving stuff to the politically powerful out of the pockets of the rest of us. Here’s some evidence for the second theory."
And provides this video:
I write this in the comment section:
"Those options seem somewhat lacking.
How about government is one of many emergent human institutions that evolve over time to solve externalities and public goods problems, but which also provide the opportunity for rent seeking behavior.
This, I would argue, has the most evidence.
1. If you look generally at what governments do, public goods and externalities are heavily represented.
2. The evidence for rent seeking and predation doesn’t need to be recounted here – it’s obvious.
3. The degree to which governments provide public goods vs. work as an opportunity for rent seeking is very closely tied to institutional structure. Institutional structure is at least somewhat evolutionary: fit institutions that provid institutional resistance to predatory behavior and rent seeking seem to survive in the long run.
4. The benefits of rent seeking are concentrated and the costs are diffuse. The benefits of solving externalities are diffuse and the costs are concentrated. So institutions are unstable. Cultures with norms and culture that enable collective action have an advantage in developing stable governing institutions.
I think I win.
I’d stack that theory of government against a libertarian political piece about taxis any day of the week.
Let’s stop this ridiculous charade of identifying two elements of government, giving them the label “two theories of government” and then pretending that both elements aren’t strongly supported by the body of social science and an enormous swath of social scientists."