The Difference between You and Them

From one point of view, the government is almost indescribably complex. Its functionaries and contractors are occupied in a gigantic set of diverse activities. The objectives it claims to be carrying out are nearly as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Someone might spend a lifetime merely enumerating all the wonderful things you get from the state — you know, the village that it takes.

Yet, at day’s end, all of this complexity can be reduced to a very simple relationship between you and those who compose the state: you have money, and they intend to take as much of it as possible and dispose of it as they see fit. If you don’t like it, you can just take a hike or go to prison until you learn the difference between you (the plundered) and them (the plunderers).

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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.