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Thursday, April 14, 2011

"You'll End Up With Kleptocrats Rather Than Technocrats"

Noah Smith:

...In a well-functioning economy, the government and the private sector complement rather than cannibalize each other. No country's private sector will ever get rich without the infrastructure, schools, research, legal system, police, army, etc. that only the government can and will provide in sufficient quantity. Private businesses should usually not try to take over these functions, just as the government should usually not attempt to build factories, dictate bank lending, or refine petroleum. To maintain this balance, one thing we need is a strong free-market ideology that prevents the government from overstepping its bounds.
But we also need high-quality technocrats in the government - technocrats who are dedicated enough or well-paid enough to resist the efforts of rational, self-interested, profit-seeking businessmen to use the government as a cash cow. If you demonize technocrats, all you'll succeed in doing is in making the technocrat profession a disreputable one. And all that will get you is...low-quality, easily corruptible technocrats! And if you try to respond to the existence of low-quality, easily corruptible technocrats by saying "Aw heck, Nozick was right, let's just drown the whole government in the bathtub," you'll just end up impoverishing your country, and then eventually you'll end up with kleptocrats rather than technocrats, and just watch what happens to your liberty under the kleptocrats.
So to people like Will Wilkinson with strong libertarian instincts, I say: Calm down. Put aside your gut reactions and take a cold serious look at the dangers threatening America's political economy. The danger of Marxism is long past. The danger of becoming a failed state is real and big and increasingly immediate. ...


    Posted by on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 12:24 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (87)


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