> A common argument in favor of government actions is that they are necessary to make us take account of long run consequences.

I think a steelmanned presentation of this would make the rebuttal more meaningful.

The version of the "common argument" that I think is most common among those who advocate governmental paternalism is that individuals can't be trusted to make long term decisions in their own best interest - not that they aren't incentivized to.

E.g. people can't be trusted to save their money for the future, so government should take it from them by force and give it back to them in the future.

Accordingly, I don't see how the rebuttal effectively rebuts it. The rebuttal seems to ultimately be that individuals have greater incentives towards their own welfare - including long-term welfare - than the government, which may have particularly limited incentives regarding the long-term.

But fundamentally, that is true with all governmental intervention. The individual always has more at stake, and hence more incentive, to optimize his future than the government.

The fact that the degree of difference in incentive may be greater in this case, does not change the fundamental calculus.

The interventionists would still assume the paternalist perspective that although the individual has greater incentive to pursue his self-interests, he can't be trusted to make the decisions in his own best interest.

Indeed, just as one could point to instances where governments make bad decisions regarding the future, one can point to endless instances of individuals lacking the reason or will to act in their own best interests.

To be clear, I disagree with the paternalistic position, I just don't see this is as much of a rebuttal, if it was meant to be one.

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No public corporation will invest long term, at least in the US. That would be failing in their legal fiduciary duty to "increase shareholder value" over the short term.

An individual owner or private corporation *might*.

A political system could be organized to encourage long term thinking. Step one would be to have stake holders not subject to repeated short term election cycles. This is seen more often in old fashioned parliamentary systems and constitutional monarchies, featuring a hereditary peerage and/or monarchy, or at least life appointments to either role.

Obviously the US doesn't have such a system; the only long term political power is in the parts of the judiciary that don't stand for (re)election. It also doesn't have the appropriate ideology - the popular consciousness wants shorter terms and less reelection of incumbents.

For Americans, the solution being implemented, such that it is, is to allow the rich to purchase politicians, behind the fig leaf of democracy. If the owning class/primary campaign contributors want long term government projects, there will be long term projects even without long term politicians. (And many of the owning class would much prefer to spend tax money on those projects, rather than their own - the ROI for campaign contributions and lobbyists appears to commonly be better than that on other investments, at least assuming the folks making those contributions are rational.)

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