In Economic Policy in a Liberal Democracy, Richard E. Wagner offers an approach to welfare economics and economic policy appropriate for a classically liberal society.
Professor Wagner explains how welfare economics has been unable to fulfil the aspirations of its advocates because it assumes that the consequences of policy measures are sufficiently knowable to achieve specific and intended outcomes. The standard vision of the corrective state, where the state intervenes to repair economic failures and to achieve beneficial consequences, is revealed to be incoherent because the state lacks the competence to influence economic outcomes.
Once the full complexity of the economy is recognized, policy measures are shown to generate a plethora of unintended consequences. What emerges instead is a focus on policy for creating and maintaining a constitutional framework that maintains and supports the liberal order in which people organize their activities.
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