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More Like Jaw-Clenchingly Arrogant

Here’s a letter to Pacific Standard:

Twenty-seven year old Johnie L. Jones is the first person profiled in your “Top 30 Thinkers Under 30” (April 1).  According to your description, he is among an elite few “social-science wunderkinds,” each of whom boasts a “brawny brain” and “jaw-droppingly impressive” ideas for “addressing society’s toughest challenges.”  And the challenge for Mr. Jones – as he describes it – is to “advance the mission of providing our country with healthy food options.”

Is Mr. Jones an innovative farmer staking his own funds on experiments to improve agricultural yields?  Is he an entrepreneur with a new business plan for reducing the costs of retailing food in poor neighborhoods?  Is he an agronomist testing new varieties of plant seeds that might grow abundantly in poor soil?  Nope.  Nothing like that.  Mr. Jones is a government bureaucrat who aspires to be elected to Congress.  Yawn.

Rather than creatively figuring out how to spend his own money, or money voluntarily entrusted to him, on ways to improve the life of Paul, Mr. Jones’s only idea is the depressingly primitive one of forcing Peter to spend money on ways to improve the life of Paul (or, more accurately, on ways that Mr. Jones merely fancies​ will improve the life of Paul).

So while Mr. Jones might have admirable intentions, there’s nothing remotely new or “brainy” or “jaw-droppingly impressive” about his ideas.  Quite the opposite.

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

“I want power to order people about!” is an idea neither new nor noble.