A Great Deal of Ruin

It’s really astonishing that there is any freedom at all in the world, given how easy it is for politicians to bamboozle people into cheering for their own enslavement and destruction. All the politicos have to say is that A, B, and C constitute “grave dangers,” and so they are doing X, Y, and Z “to protect you,” and the masses fall for their idiotic cover stories regardless of how ridiculous they are.

Probably the only thing that keeps a country from going full-frontal totalitarian at once is that the negative economic effects of the government’s actions can take such a toll that people begin to give some weight to that consideration, even though they rarely see through any of the grasping, brutal programs the government carries out, even the most ruinous ones.

As Adam Smith said, there’s a great deal of ruin in a nation. And the modern state is dedicated to pushing its activities and controls to the outer limits of that ruin for the benefit of its principal movers and shakers.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.