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The Fantasy and the Reality of Politics

Here’s a letter that I sent today to Newsweek:

Robert Samuelson is correct: regardless of which party wins the White House or Congress, Uncle Sam is unlikely to get his fiscal affairs in order (“The Rise of Fantasy Politics,” September 1).

In principle, government’s core responsibility is to prevent Jones from benefiting by his imposing costs on Smith without Smith’s consent.  In practice, government acts as Jones’s agent in securing benefits for Jones by imposing costs on Smith.

Government’s modus operandi today is to bestow goodies on politically powerful interest groups, and to pay for these goodies by taxing politically unpopular groups (e.g., oil companies) and politically impotent groups (most notably, future taxpayers).  The bottom line is that, through government, Jones imposes costs on Smith without Smith’s consent.

Donald J. Boudreaux