Democracy: The God That Failed

Daily Reckoning

By Brian Maher

This post Democracy: The God That Failed appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Today we trample sacred ground… trumpet a message of heresy… and offend the wrathful gods…

In 2001, academic Hans-Hermann Hoppe scribbled a book bearing the soaring title Democracy: The God That Failed. Hoppe’s work amounts to a one-man war dance against that most holy of secular divinities.

Hoppe’s primary tort against democracy?

It wastes. It exhausts its capital. It forever takes the short view. Hoppe uses the economic concept of time preference to nail home his point.

A Jill with low time preference delays her gratification until the future. She is disciplined. She is willing to have her cake later — after she’s seen to her business.

But a Jack with high time preference orients toward present consumption. He wants it now — and the future can go scratching.

Democracy, in Hoppe’s regard, “wants it now.” It is a spendthrift; a profligate; a child at large in a candy store.

As the wino cannot see beyond the next drink… democracy cannot see past the next election.

The problem, says Hoppe, is that democratic leaders do not own the machinery of government. It is theirs on temporary loan. The democratic politician is a placeholder.

But is that not our system’s cardinal virtue — that power is not permanently lodged in a single vessel? A rotating roster of rogues is far superior to one alone, you counter.

Otherwise the American Revolution was a vast swindle and the Fourth of July is a blackguard’s holiday.

But because a leader under democracy does not own the government apparatus, argues Hoppe, he has no incentive to maximize its value. Instead, he tends to deplete it. His limited time horizon forces him toward immediate gratification.

That is, he must get while the getting is there to be gotten.

Consider the aspiring democratic official who seeks the franchise of a demanding public. He may feel the tug of fiscal conscience. But should he fail to gratify the crowd’s clamorings, he knows the other fellow will. And our democratic aspirant will lose his election.

So he offers up the requisite sweets.

If Social Security benefits must increase to sweep him into office, then they will increase. Will it take more Medicare benefits, more unemployment insurance, more welfare? Then these you will see.

His election represents a pre-arranged raid upon the Treasury. If the national purse is thin, if the burden cannot be met from existing stocks, then it will go on the credit card.

Is the business sordid? Might it bankrupt the Republic eventually?

Well, eventually is a long way off, he says. Let it be the next fellow’s bellyache. Besides, we’ll simply grow our way out of it.

This is the office seeker under modern democracy.

Compare, for a moment, democratic government with a rented vehicle. The renter does not own the auto. He therefore has no regard for its long-term health. So he guns the engine. He pounds on the brakes. Down its gullet he pours the lowest-test gasoline. Would he ever check the oil?

And who, by the by, has ever …read more

Source:: Daily Reckoning feed