Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public service or public meddling

In the hoopla over the death of Ted Kennedy a good deal of nonsense is being spewed about the nobility of "public service." Ted spent his entire life in public service -- he never had a private-sector job nor did he need one, given the money he inherited. So we are supposed to be grateful that he spent his whole life serving others.

No doubt he saw it that way, but the only way a politician can "serve others" is to take money and other resources from some people to give it to others. Government has no money of its own, only what it can take as plunder from people who create value in the world. When they do so, they may actually be of help to those who are benefited, but the price is reducing the amount of wealth in a society, meaning there is less to go around. That's what "public service" as a politician -- as compared, for example, to a philanthropist, who uses his own money and/or skills and time to benefit others -- amounts to.

What most of the media call public service is all too often simply meddling with peoples' lives, using persuasion or force to make them do things or pay money they would otherwise prefer not to pay. Whether those who define public service as making others do what they want -- quit smoking, exercise more, reduce their carbon footprint -- rather than what those others would really prefer to do are more of a menace than those who simply take our money to buy votes and service their preferred constituencies is a question worth debating, to which I don't have a definitive answer. Both varieties are enemies of human freedom and therefore enemies of human prospering, defined broadly.

Believe me, those who claim to be serving the public, even those who are not drunk with power, are serving themselves more than they are the public.


Anonymous said...

A government big enough to give you everything you want is going to be big enough to take everything you've got.

Juan Carlos said...

I'd argue that anyone who supported civil rights legislation made the united states a truly free country

Alan Bock said...

I would agree about the original civil rights legislation, that attacked discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, etc., but suggest that when it morphed into affirmative action, which EMK also supported and which is itself a form of discrimination on the basis of RCC etc., it tended to undermine freedom.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Carlos;

There is a world of difference between "civil rights" and denying qualified White Americans jobs because they are well, White. I wonder how enthusiastic those liberal Whites from the 1960's would have been if they could have foreseen the consequences of their actions.

Anonymous said...

Many would still support EMK and affirmative action: the liberal left is motivated by racial guilt, loathing of success and hatred of open cometition (capitalism, etc) which they deem "unfair".

Anonymous said...

Reply to Anon at 11:00 AM:

This is because "equal opportunity" and equal outcome are not the same thing. What they really want is the latter and will rig the game to achieve it.

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