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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 4 of the original edition of my late colleague James M. Buchanan’s insightful 1967 book, Public Finance in Democratic Process [2]:

The omniscient and benevolent despot does not exist, despite the genuine love for him sometimes espoused, and, scientifically, he is not a noble construction. To assume that he does exist, for the purpose of making analysis agreeable, serves to confound the issues and to guarantee frustration for the scientist who seeks to understand and to explain.

DBx: Although these words from Buchanan likely seem, read here in isolation, to be too trivial to feature, they are, in fact, relevant. Nearly all proposals for this or that government action rest on the implicit assumption that the government is godlike – that the flesh-and-blood human beings who are ‘the’ government both miraculously have access to knowledge and information denied to individuals acting privately, and can be expected to behave angelically.

These twin assumptions – each absurd on its face and down to its marrow – are used by politicians, professors, and pundits left, right, and center. Faith in the omniscience and benevolence of the state (at least when controlled by one’s preferred party) is a dangerous dogma that will not die.

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