≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 53 of John Cogan’s informative 2017 book, The High Cost of Good Intentions:

In legislating Civil War pensions, Congress followed the same pattern it had established in expanding Revolutionary War pensions.  In doing so, Congress reaffirmed and hardened the earlier legislative precedents but on a much grander scale.  Along with this legislation came an important and powerful discovery by the Congress and the executive branch: broadly distributing cash benefits directly to a large segment of the voting population could produce significant electoral benefits….  This discovery ensured that future Congresses would address entitlement legislation with electoral benefits firmly in mind.

DBx: It’s sad but true that many people are eager to use the state to “transfer” incomes from others to themselves.  Taking other people’s stuff becomes acceptable, or even downright noble, in the minds of many when such taking is disguised as “public policy.”  It’s also sad but true that many of these same people do not realize the extent to which they themselves or their children end up paying for much of what it is they snatch from the public purse.

Here’s one more fact that’s sad but true: far too many economists and other social scientists who unfailingly identify every possible way – many of them wholly implausible – that markets might fail are completely oblivious to ways that politics might fail.  For reasons that have never been clear to me, it remains out-of-bounds in mainstream academic discussions to object to proposed government policies on the grounds that expansion of state power in ways that are today regarded as appropriate creates strong political forces for further expansion tomorrow in ways that that are today regarded as inappropriate.