We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There are two ways to reduce the connection between politicians and money. One is to reduce the role of money. The other is to reduce the role of politicians. I choose the latter. I contend that reducing the role of money of politics in order to make politics more honest is like trying to make airplanes safer by reducing the role of gravity. Let’s get money out of politics by making politicians less powerful.

Russell Roberts (over a week ago now but surely worth being made to linger a little)

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Before anyone else jumps in and attributes to me all kinds of opinons, concerning (e.g.) how possible I think it would be to quickly reduce the power of politicians enough to make them not worth bribing please let me say this. Just because I put up something as a Samizdata quote of the day, that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with every last word of it. It just means that I think it is interesting, and perhaps only interesting because it is nicely and/or memorably phrased.

    I do agree with most of this one, as it happens, but I can quite see how someone with exactly my jaundiced view of politicians might not want to wait for politicians to become insignificant before giving any thought to how, and by whom, and on what scale, they are in the meantime being bought.

  • Martin

    Can we make politicians less powerful by shooting them, please? Or hanging them…

  • Laird

    Martin, I suspect that we would only have to shoot (or hang) a few of them to achieve the desired effect.

    More seriously, I do agree with the sentiments expressed so eloquently in this statement. As to the issue of the transition, since most politicians are in the pocket of some special interest or other it is sufficient that the auction process be made transparent. This means the abolition of McCain-Feingold and all other limitations on campaign contributions, and replacing them with an obligation to publicly disclose immediately (in a user-friendly manner) all contributions. There should be severe penalties (lengthly jail sentences, not merely fines) for failing to disclose, and for attempting to conceal the actual source of the money.

    Most politicians are “bought”; we just need to know by whom.

  • “Can we make politicians less powerful by shooting them, please?”

    Short answer: no.

    Politicians are regularly killed, from time to time. This rarely makes the successor any less powerful, and often contributes to making him more powerful.

    This is one of those things where public opinion and lots of it is the only answer.

  • RRS

    Let us consider:

    In Res Publica whence cometh this “power of the politicians?”

    Is it extracted by force and violence? Hardly.

    Why would the Publica constantly extend, enhance and concentrate that power?

    Perhaps it has more to do with money than we might wish.

    Back in the days of early argument in England on extending the franchise, some wise Scot noted that doing so would grant access to the national treasury by a broader and less discrete body politic (the “Public’) [more pigs feeding at the public trough].
    That access is gained through “politicians.”

    That of course fits with Bastiat’s cozy definition of the “State.”

    In addition to that aceess (labelled “services and benefits”), Publica seeks individual advantage, which can be gained through the mechanisms of governments in the Res Publica. Regulations and preferences can be gained, politically.

    The uses of the powers of politicians redound to the electorate, who in the words of the Prophet (Perot) are “bribed with their own money.”

  • Just because I put up something as a Samizdata quote of the day, that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with every last word of it. It just means that I think it is interesting

    And even if the person who posts the quote does agree with what it says, that doesn’t doesn’t mean he necessarily agrees with the author of the quote about anything else, either. Just for future (and ideally past) reference.

  • Clint

    Who was it who said: When politicians control the buying and selling of things, the first thing to be bought and sold is politicians.

  • “Martin, I suspect that we would only have to shoot (or hang) a few of them to achieve the desired effect.”

    OK,can we make it a lottery prize? As well as winning a few grand the winner could nominate a politician for execution. Keep the buggers on their toes.The Saturday nigh draw would be just in time to make the Sunday papers,highlights could be screened along with Saturday’s football.

    BTW,I see Jacqui Spliff used to clean the toilets on the ferries,must have been hell following Prescott.

  • veryretired

    That there are two means of “cleaning up” politics is, of course, never, ever, ever mentioned in the periodic media “investigations” of who is buying who this year, or this election cycle.

    To acknowledge, must less seriously analyze, the possibility that reducing the scope and power of the state might help reduce the corruption and malfeasence of its cadres would first require abandoning that fundamental tenet of collectivism—the only corrupting influence we need to worry about is a powerful individual, (or corporation) with money.

    If it weren’t for those nefarious souls who have dared to be commercially successful, everything would be done purely for the “public good”. Honest.

    In fact, the entire byzantine construct of “campaign finance reform” is nothing more than an elaborate charade whose fundamental purpose is to blur and confuse the whole issue of who is buying whom, and ensure that only incumbents, with their large and tax funded staffs, can keep track of all the snares and traps of the various regulations.

    Abolish McCain/Feingold and all the rest of that nonsensical body of 1st amendment violations? Yes, certainly.

    But let’s also force an honest conversation about the true cause of political corruption—the endless expansion of the state’s power into every conceivable aspect of the lives of the citizenry, with the inevitable result that it is easier and quicker to buy a politician’s votes than expend the enormous creative energy and disciplined work required to succeed in providing value to the public in an open, honest way.

    Why climb the mountain if you can pay someone to dig a tunnel through for your use? Especially when the work is actually paid for with someone else’s money?

    Which is easier, developing Reardon metal? Or finding some politicians to take Reardon’s money to subsidize the incompetent Associated Steel’s losses?

    You know the answer. So do they.

  • To suffer politics to become a cesspool, and then to shun it because it is a cesspool, is a double crime. So said some 19th century public figure whom I’m too lazy to look up right now.l

  • Alice

    Sad truth is that we (collectively) get the government we deserve. Politicians are the sympton. Not that I have anything against treating symptoms aggressively, to extend the medical metaphor.