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The High Cost of Good Intentions


Published: September 24, 2018

Entitlements grow over time because of a force called “the equally worthy claim,” where eligibility for benefits continually expands until programs no longer resemble their initial, honorable intentions. Over time, entitlements programs have grown into a costly and complex system. Reforms should focus on preserving the programs’ original intentions and putting them back on a sustainable fiscal path.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the impact of entitlement programs on federal spending?
  2. What are some ways to put the entitlement programs back on a sustainable fiscal path?
  3. How does welfare attempt to raise poor people's standard of living?

Additional Resources

  1. Pick up a copy of The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs by John Cogan, winner of the 2018 Hayek Book Prize, available here.
  2. Watch as John Cogan speaks with Peter Robinson on “Uncommon Knowledge” here.
  3. Read John Cogan’s chapter “Entitlements and the Budget” in Blueprint for America, available here.
  4. Watch the Blueprint for America video “Entitlements and the Budget” by John Cogan, available here.
  5. Watch “Falling Short: Social Security, Medicare, and Payroll Taxes” by John Cogan, available here.