What are the advantages and disadvantages of merit goods?

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You often hear people complain that they pay for something that they do not benefit from.  For example, people want to pay fewer taxes if they do not have children in school.  The problem is that although they may not directly benefit, they do benefit in the long run by having a more developed society.

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I, too, agree that merit goods are supposed to be regarded as something which helps the community, or society, at large. Unfortunately, not all people think like pohnpei and refuse to support projects which they, themselves, will not directly benefit from.

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One advantage of merit goods is that they are supposed to benefit the entire society, although often only indirectly.  One disadvantage is that promises of merit goods can be used by politicians to (essentially) buy votes. As we have seen, spending money seems to be a favorite activity of politicians, which is not surprising, since they benefit directly from doing so.

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The major disadvantage of these is that they cost a lot of money.  Whenever the government provides a library or (much more so) a school, it has to pay a great deal for that facility.  The government will, of course, have to get the money for that from the taxpayers.

The advantage is that it provides people with a good that will benefit even those who don't use it.  In other words, even if I don't send my kids to public school, I benefit from them because well-educated people will keep our economy strong.

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