Over at Willisms, there is an interesting graph (as usual. The guy loves those things)* about which income group receives the most back from government for its tax dollar. The data weights heavily toward the premise that lower incomes receive much more back in government services than other groups do. There is merit to that.
The usual counterargument is that the rich benefit most from good government because they fortuitously live in an environment that allows them to become wealthy. There is merit to that, also.
Looking for the complementary argument that it is actually the middle-class that benefits most from government, I immediately recognised that the middle-class basically doesn’t exist under bad government/economic arrangement. The rich exist even under bad government, the poor even under bad government, but it takes a certain level of economic freedom for the middle class to even exist. So perhaps it is they who receive the most benefit from government.
It matters very much what one is measuring that the government provides to determine who is getting the most of it. Airports are given to all, but are received more by the rich. Or is it the employees of local hotels and restaurants who benefit most from the airport? Subsidised transit is offered to all, but is received more by the poor. Except commuter transit from the suburbs. Do the poor receive more police protection, because there are more policemen in their neighborhoods, or is it the wealthy and middle-class who receive more, because they have more to protect and depend on stability? Who benefits more from the military or fire department? And in the case of an ambiguous or uneven benefit such as public education, which is fine in some places and terrible in others, who gets the most bang for their buck from its existence?
Yeah, as if I’d know the answer to that.
* Willisms has a great caption contest every week also, for those who like those.