Chummy In Washington

by Don Boudreaux on October 12, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics, Reality Is Not Optional

Here’s a letter that I sent a few days ago to the New York Times:

To the Editor:

You’re right that “In seeking to make lobbying an issue, Senator McCain has made one of hypocrisy” (“One Man’s Crony …,” October 9).  But this fact hardly sets Sen. McCain apart.

Among the articles of faith of “progressivism” is the theory which never yields to experience – that you can fill the sea with enormous quantities of fresh red meat and then, Moses-like, successfully command the sharks not to devour it.

As long as Uncle Sam continues to stock the Potomac by ripping from the body politic such enormous quantities of flesh and muscle – now more than three trillion dollars worth annually – sharks and vultures will inevitably swarm throughout Washington in a competitive struggle to gorge themselves on this unfortunate feast.

Donald J. Boudreaux

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Mike Farmer October 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Exactly. When I get into an argument with those who call me naive and maintain that free enterprise is just as full of corruption as government, I tell them that's why we need rule of law, not rule of men. When government has the power to throw out slop, pigs will gather — our laws should prevent the slop. This is based in realism, not naivete.

Nigel Watt October 12, 2008 at 12:39 pm

It bothers me how often we have to repeat this point.

Crusader October 12, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Nigel – which is why we have to keep repeating it for the next 50 years.

Adam October 12, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I'm often accused, as a voluntaryist, that I'm "too trusting" of people. I usually reply that I don't trust anyone and it is the believers in government that are too trusting. Only the checks and balances of market competition can keep corruption in line (and then only imperfectly). I have yet to see any governmental check and balance which has any hope of real success.

John V October 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm

And that's just the money part of the equation.

Then there's the rules, regulations and special interest legislation that twist and influence market forces and orders to the advantage of some market players and at the expense of others. That's priceless for these parasites.

Paul from Florida October 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Not too long ago, Russian mafia got into the gasoline station business. The profit lay in not paying the taxes they got on each gallon of gasoline. However, it required them to get a lot of gas stations, hire a bunch of people, collect the cash. A lot of headaches.

The government got wise to this and changed the law. Gas stations were no longer responsible for collecting gas taxes. The distributor was.

This really pleased the mob, as they could get rid of all those pesky gas stations and steal as much as 50 stations at one distribution company, with less overhead.

If Willie Sutton was alive, he'd be in Washington, because that is where the money is. Wholesale theft is where it's at.

Rudy October 12, 2008 at 10:35 pm

If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. (It conveys precious little of the flavor of today's statecraft.) Instead, read selected portions of the Washington telephone directory containing listings for all the organizations with titles beginning with the word National. ~George Will

Jeff October 12, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Nice letter. The metaphors are perfectly apt.

T L Holaday October 13, 2008 at 8:57 am

If after fifty years of repeating an economic message, the outcome is the nationalization of the financial industry, there's something wrong with how you're presenting the message.

MnM October 13, 2008 at 9:45 am

Holaday, I hesitate to type this, but you've made a complete non-sequitur.

vidyohs October 13, 2008 at 10:48 am

"If after fifty years of repeating an economic message, the outcome is the nationalization of the financial industry, there's something wrong with how you're presenting the message.
Posted by: T L Holaday | Oct 13, 2008 8:57:18 AM"

Just as born again Christians, after their conversions, stop looking any farther for God; so Marxists stop thinking in real terms after their introduction to magical world via the Communist Manifesto.

It isn't that the message is wrong or poorly presented, Holaday, it is because the brick wall of Marxism can't hear it.

Brick walls do what brick walls do, which is to act as a barrier to natural passage.

This same truth has been laid out here on the Cafe repeatedly but the brick walls remain.

Sam Grove October 14, 2008 at 2:45 am

it is because the brick wall of Marxism can't won't hear it.

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