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Samizdata quote of the day

To the political class, whatever the rhetoric, government programs aren’t tools for improving the country. They’re tools for acquiring the main goal of the political class: more power…

- Glen Reynolds (All hail to the Blogfather… PBUHH) in USA Today – April 29, 2013

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • The Sanity Inspector

    “The plans differ, the planners are all alike.” — Bastiat

  • RRS

    Now consider: NIH; ObamaCare; Press “Responsibility” . . .

    care to add a few?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’m not really sure ‘power’ is the talisman of the political class; I suspect that most of them are just plain greedy and want ‘power’ to get ‘wealth’. For some reason, even those of us who favor small government are loathe to state the obvious, that corruption – the selling of public office for private (or at least party) profit – is rampant among both Democrats and Republicans at all levels.

    Of course, that fine distinction doesn’t keep politicians from seeking ever more power – they need a product to sell.

    What to do? Damned if I know, but the one thing I’m sure of is that if the cure for corruption is left to a government program, it won’t last long. The lamp post – politician thing is messy but may be the only thing that works long-term, so I’ll suggest making political corruption an affirmative defense in murder cases. This may be fairly difficult (!) to enact into law.

  • RRS

    PfP-

    Well of course you are on target; Instapundit agrees. Looking up the article, the sentence concludes:

    ” . . . which leads to more patronage, more graft (legal and otherwise) and a boost to their all-encompassing sense of self-importance.”

    Cheers!

  • Snorri Godhi

    PfP:
    I’m not really sure ‘power’ is the talisman of the political class; I suspect that most of them are just plain greedy and want ‘power’ to get ‘wealth’.

    What the political class (most of them) want, is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things: what matters is the underlying dynamics.
    Those who want more power, get it; those who are willing to sacrifice power to other interests (their own financial interest or the common good or a utopian ideal, or whatever) tend to lose power, and therefore tend to drop out of the ruling class.

  • Paul Marks

    I think it was better when the statists were openly evil.

    Someone like “Louis the Spider” (one of the arch statist Kings of France) sitting in his Dark Tower with his evil mages (try telling that bunch that magic is not real) – yes he imposed endless taxes and regulations, but at least he did not seriously pretend he was “doing it for the people” (although he did trot out the “protect you from the rich and powerful” B.S. sometimes).

    The modern statists have the media and the education system – they can presen themselves as “good guys” “reformers” vastly more than people like Louis The Spider could.

    “But Paul some of the statists are sincere”.

    Yes there are statists who are sincere – they are the worst statists (the ones who do the most harm).

  • Ultimately, power and wealth are the same thing.

  • Paul Marks

    So many rich people believe – till the moment the people with power kill them.

    “I have worked hard, I have built up a great business, I am rich – I am SAFE”.

    How many times have people made that mistake? Not just in Europe – but as far away as Japan.

    It can all go in a day.

    And “but I paid them” does not work either – they will accept the bribes and then (when they feel like it) come back for the rest.

    And for your head.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Alisa, you are WRONG!!!! Power and wealth are NOT equal!!!
    We use power on things that are not our equals, like pets, animals, and the inanimate world. We have power over them. When we wanted wool from sheep, we didn’t bargain and barter with the sheep- we fenced them in.
    If I want a woollen item in the shops, I need to buy it, or engage in barter for it, from the shopowners, treating them as equals. All the great turning points in human history have been about extending equality to other classes of humans, so that we are all equal in the ‘eyes’ of the law.
    Indeed, authoritarians talk about sharing wealth, by centralising power in government hands. Libertarians should have the general motto ‘Share Power!’ A nation of equally-powerful individuals would be a very hard nation to take over!
    So, zero for political insight, Alisa. Better luck next time!

  • You are right Nick, I should have said ‘interchangeable’, rather than ‘the same thing’.

  • Ultimately, power and wealth are the same thing.

    Tell that to Boris Berezovsky.

    Oh, yes. You can’t.

  • Paul Marks

    If people (or organisations such as the Church) have lots of wealth they should consider how they can covert some of that wealth into real power – i.e. armed force (exchange some of their gold for iron).

    If they can, to defend their wealth, then good – it not……..

  • Of course – as was pointed out to me by someone more alert than myself – wealth that cannot be converted by its owner into power is not really owned by that person in any real sense. Rather, it is merely being rented out to him by the real owners (of both that same wealth and the power that comes with it), in exchange for political compliance. This may well describe people such as Berezovsky.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Alisa, whilst power and wealth might be interchangeable, I will always prefer a society where wealth is the standard, rather than a feudal society based on power-relationships. Power ‘over’ others implies a vertical relationship of superior and inferior, whilst a wealth society implies a horizontal relationship of equality.

  • Paul Marks

    Land is a “common resource” and ownership is just “permission to use it” for the economic good this gives the community.

    The new “libertarianism” over at another blog.

    The French Revolutionaries would have agreed – especially as this gives those with power the excuse to take property from one person and give it to another (in order to increase the good of the community – to stop the resources being ill used…..).

    And anyone who thinks this is restricted to land (not to all property) is being foolish – it may start with land, but it extends to everything.

    Wealth which has to be “justified” as for the good of the community is indeed neither power or wealth – as it can all go in an instant.

    As “Citizen Equality” (the richest man in France) discovered.

  • Land is a “common resource” and ownership is just “permission to use it” for the economic good this gives the community.

    The new “libertarianism” over at another blog.

    Paul, that is not helpful unless you also provide a link to show us who said it and where they said it. The very essence of blogging is the hyperlink to facilitate the instant fact check.

  • Absolutely, Nick.

  • This looks like what Paul may be referring to:

    I have argued in another place that there should not be taxes on labour and capital, but taxes on land ownership and natural resources only, and, to that extent, those who control the social resources of land ought to submit to a levy to pay for what few services the government needs to provide, and their presence in the legislature reflected the fact that they were a source of public income (or controlled the land, which is the real source thereof).