“You expect them to be acting only in the interests of the company or the public, not putting money in their pockets at the same time.”

Well then you’re dumber than you look.

Seriously, this is one of the fundamental misunderstandings at the heart of statism. People really think being an employee of the state absolutely changes human nature from self-interested striving to endless benevolent self-sacrifice. And people continue to be shocked, Shocked! when they find that doesn’t work.

The quote is from a story about a law created to curb corruption that’s ended up empowering the state while stomping on liberty and the Constitution. Corruption, if you’ll remember, is the only way that anyone who works for the state can act in his or her own self interest.

Seriously, how are you going to make more money as a politician? You can either draw a bigger salary, hardly an example of benevolent self-sacrifice, or you can take money from other companies or organizations, which creates conflict of interest problems, or, in the common parlance, corruption.

In the private sector, however, you can make money for yourself, the company and the public, all at the same time. Genius! And if you don’t, if you fail to make money or do it by stealing from the company or duping the shareholders, you get fired, and possibly prosecuted for theft. Most of the exceptions to this rule can be traced back to the state meddling in the marketplace via corporatism.

Lessons? First, a law is a piss-poor way to solve a problem because it’s likely to be ineffective and have unintended consequences. Second, the private sector reliably kicks the public sector’s ass, in this case regarding corruption.

3 Comments

  1. Cal

    I think this implicit notion that those humans who run “the state” and administer its laws are somehow unaffected by the self-interest that characterizes the rest of humanity can be traced back to the the quasi-religious origins of the nation state model.

    • Cathy

      Thanks for commenting guys! Yay! Discussion! Cal, I’m really interested in your comment. I’d love to hear more about the “quasi-religious origins of the nation state model.” First, I’d like to know what you mean by that. Second, do you mean to say that religion, or religion mixed with the state, produces a worldview that views people as more selfless than they really are? Tell me more.

  2. I think your explanation of why politicians will invariably be drawn to corruption is unique and effective. It effectively shows us that, yeah, we should have a system that works with the way things are, not the way we want them to be.

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