Peter Boettke discussed who should have the authority for different public functions in his address as president of the Southern Economic Association and in this week’s episode of EconTalk. It’s a big topic that raises important questions on freedom and community. Fortunately, Boettke worked closely with Richard Cornuelle on the ability of non-governmental organizations to meet community needs. In his obituary of Cornuelle, who died in 2011, Boettke writes, “If we can theoretically and empirically demonstrate that the voluntary sector can outperform the state sector in the delivery of basic social services, the we can avoid the crisis of the fiscal state (and the inhumanity of bureaucratic ‘solutions’) and unleash the power of people and communities they live within, and actively participate in, to tackle the social ills of poverty, unemployment, health and education.”

That means if we step up individually and in community, then government agencies can step back. More private action means less demand for government action, naturally reducing the size of government instead of trying, as in the John M. Keynes analogy, to tighten government’s fiscal belt to make it skinny.