Posts tagged ‘Don Boudreaux’

“Politics is unalloyed idiocy”

[O]ne of the reasons why I so thoroughly detest politics: it insults my intelligence. Even overlooking all of its many other faults, politics remains insufferable because it’s so completely imbecilic. It traffics in assertions that are either hilariously false or utterly meaningless. Politicians and their operatives then expect those of us on the receiving end of their moronic assertions not only to believe these assertions to be true, but also to marvel at the amazingness of the politicians who, we are assured, regularly perform the unbelievable feats described by the assertions.

Politics is unalloyed idiocy treated even by – indeed, especially by – the intelligentsia as if it is a solemn and serious undertaking. But it’s not. Politics is overwhelmingly the domain of megalomaniacal frauds, liars, and con artists.

Politics – Don Boudreaux

For too many, politics and the the state are their idols.

Statolatry. Ozymandias.

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Social “Engineering” and Tyranny

“Intentions are not results”

Especially widespread among intellectuals and “Progressives” is the notion that there exists a “correct” way for society to operate. Such people believe that social organization is an issue of engineering, one with a single best “solution” – and that this “solution” must be discovered and implemented in the same way that all engineering solutions are discovered and implemented, namely, by the objective brain-power and design of the engineer. For society or the economy to be engineered requires, of course, a grand overseeing engineer: the state, advised by the best and the brightest who are equipped with all the latest data-gathering and processing techniques, as well as with the latest and most advanced engineering tools.

As Jim Buchanan points out – in the same way as has Hayek, Mises, and nearly all other thoughtful (classical) liberals – conceiving of social organization as an engineering problem, and of the state as the engineer, is not only factually mistaken, it paves the way for tyranny. The reason is that if this social-engineering view of economy and society were correct, anyone who disagrees with “the experts” advising the social-engineer hard at work to design and implement a good society is an enemy of The People.

Don Boudreaux

Statolatry is idol worship

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Public Choice and Rent Seeking

Yet the reality of voters’ rational ignorance is one of the chief reasons why public-choice scholars argue that political choices are often less prudent and less sensible than are choices made by people in private markets – and why special-interest groups have a much greater chance of co-opting political processes than they have of co-opting market processes.

Put differently, the reality of public choice is among the main reasons given by public-choice scholars for why political outcomes will often be less desirable than they are imagined to be by those who are enthusiastic about democratic politics. Even democratic political processes that are inclusive and non-corrupt feature inordinate amounts of free-riding and other ‘market-failure’ flaws that render such processes much less likely to work to promote the general welfare than the champions of politics suppose. Politics neither performs miracles nor is itself blessed by miracles.

So Jonathan Gruber simply admits that the very process that people on the left romanticize and celebrate – democratic politics – isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Of course, libertarians and public-choice scholars say the same. The difference between the Jonathan Grubers of the world and the Russ Robertses and Bryan Caplans of the world is that the former believe that politics is still commendable as long as good, smart people (such as Gruber) are performing deceptions necessary to trick voters into supporting policies that good, smart people somehow divine are best for the masses, while the latter believe that the very need to deceive rationally ignorant (indeed, rationally irrational) voters is itself a major flaw in politics – a flaw that makes politics far less reliable and admirable than competitive, private markets.

GruberGate, by Don Boudreaux

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“[T]he stupid anthropomorphism of collectives”

One of the greatest dangers of war – a danger that is simultaneously both a cause of war and a consequence of war – is the stupid anthropomorphism of collectives: “Us” versus “Them.” Individuals are lost sight of; they become invisible. All that is seen are the mentally-constructed wholes (usually, but not always, represented by governments that do indeed claim to be the living embodiments of their peoples).

“They” are “Our” enemy, so any damage, even if it’s “collateral,” to any of “Them” is proper, even good – and sometimes downright glorious. “We” treat “Them” as the Bad; “They” treat “Us” as the Bad. And because “We” must spare no effort to defeat “Them” the Bad, “We” turn on each other if and to the extent that any individuals amongst us dare to not join in “Our” crusade against “Them.”

Henderson on Epstein on War and Libertarians, by Don Boudreaux

Pro-tip: “Socialism really fixes the environment. Just ask the USSR and China.”
Daniel Greenfield

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