Question

by Don Boudreaux on July 20, 2013

in Politics

Although ad hominem argumentation is illogical and a sign of a feeble intellect or of a weak case, this fact does not mean that knowledge of an arguer’s motives should be rejected as an input for assessing the merits of an arguer’s argument.

So that said, I have a question for politicians of the stripe of Barbara Boxer and for pundits of the stripe of Paul Krugman: if arguments advanced by Mr. A justifiably fall under deep suspicion because Mr. receives funding from some institution whose interest lies in widespread public acceptance of Mr. A‘s arguments, then shouldn’t we be forever suspicious of argument made by politicians and other government officials who press for expanding the size, take, reach, and power of government?  After all, not only are the likes of Sens. Boxer and Bernie Sanders paid by government, they stand to gain – personally and directly – if government grows larger and more powerful.

Surely, then, we have no good reason to trust that Sen. Boxer & Co. really believe the things they say publicly.  And just as surely, any arguments offered by her and her colleagues for larger and more powerful government can be dismissed summarily and out-of-hand because, well, she and her colleagues are paid shills for the greedy, grasping, and gargantuan institution whose resource and power base she and they plead to expand even further.

See how easily this cheap game is played?!

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