Just out from Cambridge University Press: When States Go Broke, a fine volume on “The Origins, Context, and Solutions for the American States in Fiscal Crisis” edited by Peter Conti-Brown and David A. Skeel, Jr. Skeel had an excellent essay in 2010 in The Weekly Standard that explored some of the thinking in this volume “Give States a Way to Go Bankrupt.” The insane price ($99) may reflect the publisher’s judgment that if states go broke, they might as well take book buyers and libraries along for the ride. ‘Tis a pity, because the volume is unusually timely and thought-provoking. A few notes on some of the essays, with no prejudice to the other contributors:
Yesterday’s post, on the seemingly unstoppable growth of federal transfer payments to state and local governments, ended on a question: what happens when both parties to the transaction, the states and the feds confront unsustainable commitments? The brilliant answer our federalism has produced: make yet more unsustainable commitments. Why?