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Eatin’ that Rainbow Stew

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Ever the romantic about popularly elected government, E.J. Dionne writes that “The central tasks of democratic government, after all, typically involve standing up for the many against the few, the less powerful against the more powerful” (“Can we reverse the tide on government distrust?” May 6).

That’s the theory.  Here’s the reality: The central activities of democratic government, after all, typically involve standing up for the few against the many, the more powerful against the less powerful.

History overflows with evidence that democratic reality seldom lives up to democratic theory.  Tariffs; farm subsidies; military-weapons programs that thrive even in the face of opposition by the Pentagon – these are only three of the more blatant examples of the many way that government heaps benefits on relatively small interest groups (the few) by screwing the general public (the many).

Gullibility is tolerable in children because kiddies have little decision-making authority.  But gullibility in adults is dangerous.  And no species of gullibility is as dangerous as that which leads adults such as Mr. Dionne to “trust” that a handful of people hungry for power and the privilege of spending taxpayers’ money, will – once chosen by voters – cast off their human vanities and ignorance to become selfless saviors of millions upon millions of strangers whom these officials will never as much as lay their eyes on.

I cannot begin to understand why a measure of naivete that we would be appalled to find in a third-grader is believed by so many people to be a necessary ingredient for saving the republic.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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