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Quotation of the Day…

… is from the late GMU Econ alum Steve Horwitz’s March 11th, 2013, contribution (“Breaking Open the Black Boxes of Political Economy“) to a Liberty Matters forum titled “James Buchanan: An Assessment” (typo corrected):

[T]he modern state seems more like referees in an American football game who use their discretion to decide what yard line the ball should be placed on and what sorts of plays are legitimate.  The bailouts and subsidies of the last half-decade are a perfect example of this sort of behavior by the modern state.

DBx: The rule of law requires more than merely fair and regular election of political representatives. These representatives (and their appointees) cannot – no more than can the individuals whom they represent – be allowed rule-less discretion to do as they please.

A necessary component of the rule of law is rules. Because no one, not even when voting, can legitimately delegate to others powers that they themselves do not legitimately possess, voters – who as individuals must be rule-bound – cannot delegate to elected representatives the authority to act bound only by the rule that these representatives be selected for office in fair in regular elections.

Among the most wrongheaded and dangerous ideas afoot in modern democratic society is that fair and honest elections are the be-all and end-all of the rule of law – that governments fairly and honestly elected have the legitimate power to do as they please.


Pictured above is GMU Econ alum Steve Horwitz, who died at far too young an age on this date, June 27th, in 2021.