If You Don’t Trust People, Then You Shouldn’t Trust Politics
“Ordinary people can’t be trusted to make the right decisions about what’s best for themselves and others. That’s why we need government to decide for them.”
“And who will we trust to decide who these government officials are?”
“Ordinary people, of course. It’s only fair.”
I hope you see the irony here.
I also hope you see the irony of expressing mistrust in human nature while also expressing faith in the idea that human nature will somehow become trustworthy when those humans work for the government. If people can’t be trusted to make their own decisions, why would those same people be trusted to make decisions for the rest of us? This line of thinking has never made sense to me and I hope it starts to make a little less sense to you.
Here’s one of my favorite clips where the economist Milton Friedman addresses this fallacy in response to Phil Donahue’s concerns about capitalistic greed:
The way we’re going to move forward in this world is not by finding a person who’s good enough to make bad systems work, but by investing in systems that incentivize even the bad person to make himself or herself accountable to creating value for others. And I know of no other system like that than the free market.
If you’re interested in hearing me elaborate on this theme, check out this talk I gave at The Nassau Institute & The University of The Bahamas on the power of free markets and why we need to look beyond politics if we truly want to create a freer society: