Jackart at the A Very British Dude blog makes an important point today about the problems that free marketeers face in communicating their ideas concisely online. When arguing on Twitter, for example, you have to keep your points within 140 characters – how can we use that to communicate relatively difficult ideas? Jackart uses the dispersed costs, concentrated benefits problem as an example:
And every policy cut, every social service no longer provided has two constituencies loudly shouting "I No LONGER HAVE A JOB" and "I NO LONGER GET MY SERVICE" whereas the benefit is spread amongst 40m taxpayers, some time in the future.
Politicians who would in fact do best cutting taxes, reducing red tape and getting out of the way instead get involved with trade policies, monetary policies and labour market interventions to solve the problem, because it is easier to be seen to be doing something than explaining why Government is the wrong tool for the job. All these social policies and redistribution costs in money, people’s time and lost opportunity and eventually the costs mount up to overwhelm the country’s economy.
Fortunately, we are not there yet. The country can go on getting ever more statist for some time yet and this will meet the support of people like UK Uncut. Eventually, however the burden of regulation and tax becomes too great. The coalition has an opportunity to to remove the burden on the hard-pressed tax-payer, and change the narrative. But the success of the policy MUST be seen within this parliament or eventually the problem of people demanding people use the powerful tool for their benefit at the highly dispersed cost to others rears its head.
The person Jackart is debating can make the easy point that policy X harms whichever group is its recipient. The free market case – that politicians should ignore special interest groups who are the beneficiaries of government interventions – requires more elaboration and, as Jackart says, we can’t expect statists to read voluminous free market texts any more than we’d read Das Kapital if the statist recommended it.
We on the right need to get better at putting our message forward, especially on the internet. So Jackart poses a challenge: can anyone condense the dispersed costs, concentrated benefits argument into a single, 140 character-long tweet? Answers in the comments section of his post.