Saturday, January 17, 2015

The absurd faith in government

The absurd faith in government
 (Don Boudreaux)
“The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretenses.
People of an unreflective or a romantic bent are deafened by happy talk, misled by pretentious titles, blinded by lovely costumes, and overawed by magnificent stage sets.  Such credulous people hear government officials proclaim grand, good, and selfless goals, and they see these officials working away amidst glorious marble columns in statue-laden buildings that line wide boulevards, and thereby childishly conclude that the motives of these officials are higher than – and the results of their labors superior to – those of business people who make little or no pretense of being “public servants” or of spurning personal gain in order to work for the “common good.”  This absurd faith in government, of course, only grants those wielding state power the cover and freedom to be far more greedy, rapacious, irresponsible, and destructive than anyone can possibly be in competitive private markets.”

… is from page 264 of the 1997 Johns Hopkins University Press edition of H.L. Mencken’s insightful, frank, and (of course) immensely entertaining 1956 collection, Minority Report:


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