10 June 2008

"Svengalis, not salvation"

A recent Don Boudreaux epistle relevant to yesterday's rant on politicians and Creatures of Light:
I'm flabbergasted by the faith that people - left, right, and center - put in politics and in the candidates du jour. Millions of Americans today famously believe that a President Obama will fundamentally "change" America (into what, though, is unclear). And today, David Brooks suggests that a President McCain might well quash special-interest-group politics and turn Uncle Sam's attention chiefly to the general interest ("Talking Versus Doing," May 20).

These are delusions. I'll bet $100 that, regardless of which candidate wins the White House, in 2013 the federal budget will still contain agricultural subsidies and tariffs that take billions of dollars from the many to give to the few - that a majority of Members of Congress will continue to successfully sponsor earmarks - that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare will be no smaller than they are today - and that partisan bickering will be every bit as much a part of the daily news as it is now.

Politics delivers Svengalis, not salvation.
A safe bet indeed, Dr Boudreaux.

And what do you have to say on the subject of political salvation, Joseph Schumpeter?
Politicians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with keeping in the saddle that they can't bother about where they go.1
Awful hard to lead a nation to the promised land if you can't stay on your mount.

And Mr Eric Hoffer, what say you on the topic?
Modern man is weighed down more by the burden of responsibility than by the burden of sin. We think of him more a savior who shoulders our responsibilities than him who shoulders our sins. If instead of making decisions we have but to obey and do our duty, we feel it as a sort of salvation.2
If that last sentence doesn't wrap up the Obama and McCain campaigns (and Clinton's and Huckabee's and Guiliani's and...) then I'm not sure what does.

[1] From his private diaries, as reported on p 405 of Prophet of Innovation by Thomas McCraw.
[2] From
The Passionate State of Mind, entry #84

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