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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 377 of John Cogan’s excellent 2017 book, The High Cost of Good Intentions:

[E]lectoral politics have been an important driver of entitlement expansions since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Because entitlement programs distribute cash assistance directly to large numbers of voters and reimbursements directly to sizable numbers of service providers, they are an efficient vehicle for gaining electoral advantage.

DBx: The perverse incentive structure of this political reality is typically ignored by those who seek expansions of government programs. Coming to grips with the existence of this perverse incentive structure scrubs away much, and sometimes all, of the romantic luster in which these programs are wrapped.

To come to grips with the existence of this perverse incentive structure is not chiefly to recognize that government forcibly ‘redistributes’ resources from individuals who produce and earn them to individuals who do not produce and earn those resources; it is, instead, to recognize that the very system used to carry out this ‘redistribution’ is unsustainable over time. And so many proponents of such programs lazily content themselves with the grade-school-quality assurance that the programs, being the product of representative democracy, are the will of The People – and because The People are nearly divine when acting democratically, the programs are necessarily just, wise, and prudent.


(The quotation from Bastiat in the above image is very famous among libertarians, although it’s not my favorite. I agree fully with its point. My problem with the quotation is that the government, in fact, is not a fiction. It’s all too real. [I wonder how it reads in the original French.])


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