Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The seductive, destructive siren song of statism

It is so easy to get caught in the day-to-day swirl of events that we are tempted to forget or not to notice that larger principles, some of them timeless, are at work or at stake. In this piece from the Mises Institute, historian and economist Robert Higgs (he of the great classic "Crisis and Leviathan," reminds us how seductively the State draws us into its world of destruction. "The state is the most destructive institution human beings have ever devised -- a fire that, at best, can be controlled for only a short time before it o'erleaps its improvised confinement and spreads its flames far and wide." People fail to recognize this "because they are told incessantly that the tribute they fork over is actually a kind of price paid for essential services received, and that in the case of certain services, such as ptrotection from foreign and domestic aggressors against their right to life, liberty and property, only the government can provide the service effectively."

After discussing the New Deal, World War II and 9/11, Higgs concludes that "Until people learn to disregard the state's siren song of beneficence and protection, they will continue to suffer and die as victims of the state's wars, foreign and domestic. People yearn for security, and they look to the state to provide it, but they are calling upon a wolf to guard the sheep."

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