Innocents and Goons

by Don Boudreaux on October 23, 2013

in Crony Capitalism, Reality Is Not Optional

Suppose that a group of wily, greedy, shameless, and often duplicitous criminal masterminds – call them Goons – exist who routinely prey on Innocent people.  These predators, these Goons – while seldom resorting to outright violence – are forever conning Innocent people out of money, colluding with each other to strip Innocent people of opportunities, and generally making life unpleasant and insecure for the great majority of us Innocent and gentle folk.

And unfortunately, most of us Innocents are helpless to avoid the predations of the Goons.  We are doomed by our very innocence, gullibility, and poor and limited information to be victimized repeatedly.  The more intelligent and forward-thinking of us Innocents conclude that our only salvation from Goons lies in some collective arrangement through which we organize ourselves into a force to counter these terrible people who are so skilled and clever at preying upon our vulnerabilities.

So….

Why does anyone suppose that these goony predators who exhibit enormous skill and no hesitation to further their own narrow and greedy purposes at the great expense of countless Innocent people will not be the very people who infiltrate the institutions that we Innocents establish to protect ourselves from them?  What makes the allegedly more intelligent and forward-thinking of us Innocents confident that our creation of concentrated power for the purpose of fending off the Goons will not be captured by the very Goons from whom we seek protection?

If each of us Innocents is too dim-witted, too ill-informed, or too weak-willed to avoid being victimized by Goons, why will each of us Innocents, when called upon to choose from our ranks – and to bestow special privileges and powers upon – battalions of fellow Innocents to protect us, choose wisely?  How will we identify those other Innocents who can be trusted to have the mental acuity and wherewithal to work together effectively to form an effective protective force against the Goons?  Do such Innocents even exist?  Will not our enemies the Goons attempt with much success to disguise themselves as especially trustworthy Innocents and, in doing so, gain disproportionate position and rank in the collective institutions that we Innocents innocently established to protect ourselves against the Goons?

Might it even be the case that some would-be Goons – unable without access to any great concentrations of power to prey as they desire upon us Innocents – themselves stir up hysteria and tell horror stories about imaginary predations of Goons, their hope being that the resulting fear among Innocents will prompt us Innocents to create and trust the very concentrations of power that the clever Goons realize they can then hijack and deploy for their own purposes of becoming truly effective predators?

What are the answers to these innocent questions?

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