It’s always nice to read a review of one’s work and it’s usually a good idea to steel oneself for the criticisms that any work ought to invite. Everything I’ve ever written or edited could have been better. Criticism is a good thing. And so are responses. So here goes.
I was a bit puzzled by David Conway’s review of my modest book After the Welfare State, because he seems to have read different essays from those I wrote. He claims that I have discredited classical liberalism by making several statements that I am rather confident he has misunderstood and thus mischaracterized.
First, one man’s “hyperbole” is another man’s urgency. The crisis of unfunded liabilities is a rather serious matter. The Greek situation, which brought to parliament both communist and fascist parties, not to mention rioters to the streets, should wake us all up. At least, so I would think. But even if we set aside the situation in Greece and focus on the US or Northern Europe, the fiscal imbalances (i.e., the present value of the unfunded liabilities of the state, which represents the difference between anticipated taxes and anticipated expenditures under current law), amount to a whopping 500% or more of GDP in a number of wealthy countries, such as the Netherlands and the US, and up to 1,550% in Poland.