Tyler Cowen has a post up on State Capacity Libertarianism. I’m not so interested in the “libertarian” part of his argument, which is mostly aimed at persuading libertarians to accept some role for government beyond enforcing contracts and protecting property rights. But liberals (as in progressives) have good reason to think hard about state capacity. A few thoughts on liberalism and state capacity:
Recognition of limited state capacity should affect how liberals set policy priorities and rank policy tools:
Many promising active labor market policies and economic development policies require a degree of state capacity that we currently lack.
A federal jobs guarantee would require a big increase in state capacity. I’m not a fan in general, but any effort to implement a jobs guarantee would have to start slowly and concentrate on building capacity.
Carbon taxes require less state capacity than regulation, which requires less state capacity than direct government ownership of power plants.