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As Compared to What?

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

You lament the practice of members of Congress staffing their offices with former lobbyists (“Cutting Out the Middleman,” April 3).  Your justified concern, however, raises this question: given that politicians are incurably addicted to such cronyism, why do you so often support expansions of government’s size, scope, and power?

Although the free market would work better in practice than you suppose, a large part of the case for the free market is not that it’s perfect – it assuredly is not – but that the alternative is worse.  Being decentralized and voluntary, the free market is much less likely than is government to foist the consequences of unethical or incompetent actions on everyone collectively.  And because Uncle Sam faces virtually no competition (it is the only national government permitted to operate in these United States) its mistakes and malfeasances take longer to be exposed and remedied than do mistakes and malfeasances committed in private, competitive markets – a fact that means that mistakes and malfeasances are likely to be committed more frequently by government officials than by participants in private markets.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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