Thinking Things Through

This came my way:

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

It’s tempting to say amen, but Mencken was off the mark. While government is certainly dishonest, it certainly isn’t insane or intolerable. Governments do insane things because the people in government are being quite rational. Both bureaucrats and elected politicians have understandable agendas and pursue those agendas rationally. It’s the unintended consequences of their actions that are insane. Is it intolerable? Well, it would be if someone could show me a better alternative.


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