How to think about makers and takers

Here is my latest NYT column, on how we ought to be thinking about the issue of makers vs. takers.  Excerpt:

EVERYONE FEELS ENTITLED People tend to think that they have justice on their side, whether it comes to making or taking.

For example, millions of homeowners have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the premise that the tax deduction for mortgages will be continued. If they support a continuation of that deduction they hardly feel like brigands, even though a bipartisan consensus of economists doubts the efficiency of this tax break.

As years and decades pass, recipients of this deduction and other benefits start to see them as deeply and richly deserved. Furthermore, almost all of us reap one or more of these benefits, so few individuals are consistently opposed to all government transfers.

It becomes difficult for a politician to articulate exactly what is wrong with this arrangement when the audience itself is in on the game and perhaps does not want to hear about its own takings.

Mark Thoma comments.

You also should read the new (short) book out by Nicholas Eberstadt, A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic, which came to my attention quite recently.


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