In a comment on a recent post I mentioned a study I had read about the effect on economic growth of regulation vs spending/taxes/redistribution. The take-home message was that the latter is considerably more weakly associated with reduced growth than the former and so it makes more sense to focus on reducing or restraining regulation than shrinking the fiscal footprint of the feds. My first question is whether any reader recalls seeing such a study and can provide a link, because I forget where I read it. My second is why this might be so. One possibility is that taxation/spending is relatively easy to define and so obviously stupid moves are unavoided, whereas regulation is much more likely to have unintended consequences. Another is that many less developed countries have a symbiosis of regulation and corruption where it is extremely difficult to pass through the hoops of a license Raj to, say, set up a business if you don’t have the right connections or grease enough palms. Bryan Caplan notes that in these countries perceptions of corruption increase hostility toward business and spur demand for more regulation, which will just beget more corruption.
Some unrelated musings that I didn’t feel merit their own posts are below the fold.
Near the end of Albion’s Seed I came across some surprising incidents. On friction between the different folkways in America: “On many occasions these antipathies gave rise to acts of violence. Fighting broke out repeatedly between Puritans and Quakers in central New Jersey. The inhabitants of the Delaware Valley and the people of Chesapeake region met in armed combat along what is now the Mason-Dixon Line.” Fighting Quakers? Apparently. Among the the things that turned these principled pacifists into belligerents was the war fever (due to the “quasi-war” with France) of 1798 especially strong in New England: “But in the Delaware Valley, Quaker and German voters turned against the Federalist administration in 1798. So strong was this feeling that it led to an insurrection in Bucks, Montgomery and Northampton counties of eastern Pennsylvania. Historians call this event Fries Rebellion after a German who forcibly opposed a federal marshal in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Contemporaries knew it as the Hot Water War, after the weapon which angry farm wives used against federal troops and tax assessors.” Another incident I hadn’t heard about was when the Federalist government seemed to lose control of the army (the route through which they gained the support of normally hostile southerners, who were apparently game for any war any time for any reason), resulting in some soldiers interfering with elections and attacking John Randolph of Roanoke.
Lastly, Daniel Larison has been engaged in an interesting argument that encompassed (among other things) whether a patriot can collaborate with invaders. While it wasn’t the exoteric message of Buchanan’s book (which I just finished, although the last disc was heavily scratched) my takeaway (contra Daniel) is yes.