Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 22, 2013

in Budget Issues, Crony Capitalism, Other People's Money, Politics, Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 154 of Anthony de Jasay‘s excellent 1997 volume, Against Politics:

Dismantling certain state and state-enforced institutions by repeal, privatization, and, at the margin, by reduced scope and reduced budgets for continuing programmes, has an interesting and I believe far-reaching by-product: it lowers the stakes that can be gained or lost by exerting some influence on the redistributive aspects of governing.

Reality is not optional: the greater the power of government to use discretion to do what is thought to be good for society, the greater the number, and the more intent, are the rent-seekers who scramble in and scheme to have government use discretion to do what in fact is harmful to society and good only for the successful rent-seekers.  To disregard, or to only lightly regard, this reality when pondering or planning public policy has as much scientific merit as disregarding, or only lightly regarding, the reality of friction when building your dream perpetual-motion machine.

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