… is from page 199 of UCLA economist William Allen’s 1989 collection of the transcripts of his excellent radio addresses, The Midnight Economist ; specifically, it’s from Allen’s October 1988 radio address entitled “Poverty, Politics, and Promises”:
Politicians should remember this connection between higher rates of economic growth and lower rates of poverty. For by promising more and more health care, job protection, and other programs for middle-income America, they jeopardize economic growth. Such reckless political promise might be an avenue to political power. But it is also a road to poverty.
I would amend the above, excellent thought only slightly: rather than advise politicians to remember the connection between higher rates of economic growth and lower rates of poverty, this advice should instead be directed at people as citizens and as denizens of society. Calling on the politician to remember that the government interventions that enhance his power diminish the well-being of the people is akin to calling on the wolf to remember that his eating sheep diminishes the well-being of the sheep. Neither the politician nor the wolf cares. So just as the best way to protect the victims of wolves is to warn sheep to beware of wolves – to steer clear of them – the best way to protect the victims of politicians is to warn people to beware of politicians – to steer clear of them.