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Abuse of Reasons

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Gordon Crovitz reports that Pres. Obama’s “longtime adviser David Axelrod last week blamed a too-big government for the scandals: ‘Part of being president is that there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast'” (“Big Government Loses Control,” May 20).

Although the reality identified by Mr. Axelrod is inescapable, it is no excuse when offered by people – such as Messrs. Obama and Axelrod – who repeatedly insist that proponents of keeping the size and scope of government strictly limited exaggerate big-government’s dangers.

One cannot legitimately, when seeking to expand state power, assure us that such power will be exercised with sufficient attentiveness to avoid abuse, but then – when reality exposes those assurances as fanciful – plead innocent by noting that the degree of attentiveness necessary to prevent abuse is humanly impossible.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030