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Greed and Fear — and Markets and Government

Here’s a comment that I posted recently on Paul Krugman’s blog:

David Lentini asserts that “fear and greed” are the “great drivers of laissez faire economics.”  This assertion seems wildly incorrect.

Is it really true that the more frightened people become, the less likely they are to turn to government for protection (however illusory such protection is in reality)?

And is it true that greed uniquely drives free markets?  While markets are often accused of making people greedy (or of uncorking the greed that looms within us all), it’s evident to me that majoritarian democracy – certainly as much as markets, and arguably much more so – is driven by greed.  What is it if not greed that prompts retirees to vote to tax working people so that these retirees’ public pensions remain funded?  What is it if not greed that motivates domestic corporations and their workers to lobby government for protection from foreign competition?

Examine democratic politics objectively; greed is woven tightly throughout it.

Don Boudreaux


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