Column on Corrupt Politics

A Corrupt Profession

Tibor R. Machan

There are those who believe that business is inherently
corrupt–communists would be among those, and socialists. The very idea
of striving to make a profit is treated by these people as morally
objectionable. Of course, some even think medicine fits the bill, or
military service. And there are animal rights advocates who believe the
entire meat industry is morally base.

For my money the one profession that has indeed become completely, utterly
morally irredeemable is politics. Not that even this is necessarily the
case–politics could be an upstanding profession in a genuinely free
country where those practicing it did what the American Founders believed
should be their task: to secure our rights, period. But that has never
been the way most people in government viewed their job. Instead these
days politicians are hired extortionists. They run for office by promising
voters that they will successfully expropriate resources from others and
hand it to voters if they only manage to be elected.

Voters, of course, are fully complicit in this–kind of like people who
hire killers to do the murder they want done for them. Voters are mostly
bent on sending those people to state and national capitols who promise
them to use the power of the police to take the wealth of some and hand it
to them. For this they will be paid and be able to wield power. Never
mind that in the end the only winners are the politicians and bureaucrats
because nearly all voters get their comeuppance by being at the losing end
of the extortion process. But, just like all those folks who flock to Las
Vegas, Monte Carlo, or other gambling centers, voters keep hoping that
they will end up winners instead of the house!

In a free society politicians would be like the sheriff in those fictional
Westerns who want the job so they can maintain peace and fight crime.
They earn themselves a good resume or CV when they achieve this goal and
not by being year-round Santa Clauses to the citizens of their towns. For
this they receive payment which is collected from something like user
fees, funds the citizens contribute by some sort of peaceful, voluntary
fashion. That is how freedom works, namely, by systematically precluding
all kinds of aggression–brutality, theft, extortion, coercion–from how
society works. Taxation, a relic of feudal times, would be banned just as
serfdom is, or slavery, however difficult it may be for a while to live
without it. But such are the meaning and implication of taking individual
rights seriously, seeing them as genuinely unalienable.

But that conception of politics is admittedly the best that’s possible and
doesn’t resemble at all what politics has been throughout human history.
Things have gotten a bit better, here and there, by the restraint outright
thuggery on the part of rulers–the king or queen, Pharaohs, tsar, Caesar,
Sheik or whatnot–and making it a matter, mostly, of the rule of the
majority. Yet, of course, majorities can be just as ruthless as
dictators. And in such democratic countries, ones in which the rule of
law and individual rights haven’t gained serious respect, representatives
of majorities take what they want from disarmed minorities.

The usual excuse given is that, well, the wealthy or lucky need to help
the rest but this is completely misguided because political largess isn’t
help but loot! When you extort other people’s resource–which may have
come from luck but more often from a life productively lived–and hand
this over to others, that is the farthest thing from generosity or
compassion. It is the using of some people, against their will, for the
sake of others. And that is exactly what must not be done in a free and
just human community. That’s because people’s lives belong to them, they
and not others have a right to it unless they themselves chose to share it.

America’s greatest holiday, the Fourth of July, will perhaps some day be
celebrated with full understanding of what it stands for. Unfortunately
it isn’t now. All the pomp and noise surrounding the Fourth seems by now
to have lost its point, which was to celebrate the revolutionary insight
that politicians are supposed to protect the rights of the citizenry.
Instead politicians work in a completely corrupted profession by hiring
themselves out as thugs in nice garb. In comparison, people in the
business world, even in a messy one which is infected with a lot of
politics, are heroes.

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