Ed Crane’s Wisdom

by Don Boudreaux on October 24, 2013

in Hubris and humility, Politics

I had the pleasure of attending a talk that Cato’s president emeritus, Ed Crane, delivered this evening on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus.  Ed said many wise things – but his single best line of the evening, in my opinion, is this one:

There are two types of human beings: people who want to interfere in the way other people live their lives, and people who are content to mind their own business.  Which type of people do you think go in to politics?

The answer is as obvious as the question is important.

Politics is the domain of busybodies.  Politics attracts, with a kind of socio-supermagnetism, people with unusually bloated egos and excessively high opinions of themselves – high opinions that assure them (falsely, to be sure) that they are not only competent but also entitled to lord it over lesser folk.  Politics is the natural occupation of people who, not content to tend to their own affairs, itch to control also the affairs of others.  The ranks of politicians swell with egotistical, arrogant, and officious buttinskies who are constitutionally immune to any sense of humility or decent regard for the privacy and personal preferences of others.  Politics is the home of intolerant bosses – petit fuhrers – sure of their own superiority and confident of the incapacity of ordinary men and women to survive without being leashed and led by those to whom heaven, in its incontestable wisdom, has given political power.

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