Texas Tech University

Debate on the Future of the Welfare State

Dr. Peter Lindert

Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis

Michael Tanner

Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

According to some observers the Western Welfare State has had its day, threatened by overspending, unmanageable debt, and taxation/regulation induced economic sluggishness. Others, however, believe that with proper management the Welfare State not only remains an indispensable instrument in promoting social justice, but an invaluable means for fostering economic growth. More than anything else, this is the debate that now divides America into two heatedly opposed partisan camps and is increasingly roiling political waters in the European Union as well.

To add some clarifying intellectual light to the emotional heat this controversy has been generating the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization and the Free Market Institute sponsored a debate on the Welfare State's future between two outstanding analysts of its fiscal and political prospects.

Dr. Peter H. Lindert, Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis, is the author of Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century, a two-volume book published by Cambridge University Press in which he argues that, contrary to the intuition of many economists and the ideology of many politicians, social spending has contributed to, rather than inhibited, economic growth. Peter H. Lindert served as President of the Economic History Association and as Co-Editor of its journal. His textbooks in international economics have been translated into at least eight other languages, and he has previously taught at the University of Essex, Harvard University, Moscow State University, and the University of Wisconsin.

Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, co-edited Replacing Obamacare: The Cato Institute on Health Care Reform, a compilation of the Cato institute's work over the past several years on health care reform, with contributions by over a dozen national experts, including Tanner himself. In 2003 he published The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society (2003) in which he proposed to replace all government welfare programs by a renewed and invigorated program of private charity and economic opportunity. The New York Times refers to him as “a lucid writer and skilled polemicist.” Before joining Cato in 1993, Tanner served as director of research of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and as legislative director for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The debate was held at the Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, April 09, 2013.

This event was supported by a grant from the Koch Foundation.

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization