… is from page 225 of my GMU Econ colleague Richard Wagner’s 2017 paper “Dispute resolution when rationalities conflict: cost and choice in a mixed economy,” which is chapter 10 in Research Handbook on Austrian Law and Economics (Todd J. Zywicki & Peter J. Boettke, eds., 2017):
The rampant fiscal irresponsibility that has been a democratic disease of increasing intensity over the better part of a century is a manifestation of the monstrous moral hybrid that can result from excessive commingling between commercial and guardian activity [of the state]. Politicians manage their personal budgets in responsible fashion but fail to do so in their public capacities. This is not so much a personal failing on their part as it is a reflection of their being caught up in the tragedy of a democratic budget commons.
DBx: Indeed so.
If you get to spend my money and I get to spend yours, our ‘collective’ spending will be less responsible than if I get to spend my money but not yours, and you get to spend your money but not mine.
Why is this simple reality so little recognized? Why are the negative externalities that are created when each of us is given a say in the way others of us lead lives so seldom noted and so little feared?