The Story of Broke Response

Prof. Art Carden responds to “The Story of Broke“, a recent video by the creators of “The Story of Stuff.” In “The Story of Broke,” Annie Leonard claims that the government isn’t actually broke. Rather, the government just wastes resources on the wrong things like subsidies to the dinosaur economy and war. She claims that the government should change its ways, and instead, subsidize firms that will bring us the future we really want.

Art Carden agrees with Leonard that war and subsidies are wasteful, but is skeptical of notion that there is one unified vision for the future. To Carden, everyone has a different vision for the future. Our path to the future, he argues, is determined by the interactions of billions of unique individuals pursuing their own objectives.
Additionally, Carden questions Leonard’s distinction between bad subsidies and good subsidies. Every subsidy, deemed good or bad, must be allocated through the political process. Lobbyists and special interests exert a large degree of influence on political decisions, and they use this power to direct subsidies in their own favor at everyone else’s expense.
Carden concludes that government spending won’t buy a brighter future. A brighter future will emerge when people are allowed to spend money on things they care about. Put another way, positive change will come from billions of people cooperating freely and voluntarily with one another, not from pushing trillions of dollars through a broken political process.
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