The Future of Government is Smaller

by Richard M. Ebeling

One of the great controversies in modern society concerns the necessary and required functions of government. There are few who disagree that if government is to exist then it certainly has the duty and responsibility to secure and protect essential rights of every individual, including the right to life, liberty and honestly acquired property. But there are a wide variety of tasks that the private sector could better provide that many think must be supplied by the government.

Many of these activities have been subsumed under the general notion of “public goods” that are subject to “free rider” problems. Public goods are often defined as a good or service from the use or coverage of which an individual may receive a benefit, but from which he is not easily excluded even though he does not pay a price or fee to help cover some portion of the cost of making it available.

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