Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Political Realism and Hillary's Tears (amv)

Good economics facilitates (or, as some may say, presupposes) a very, say, "special" attitude towards policy makers. Economists - at least since the Public Choice revolution initiated by Buchanan and Tullock - prefer to look at things the way they are, not the way they like them to be. Politicians, so our working hypothesis, are neither driven by omniscience nor by Goodwill alone. They maximize votes by spending and reallocating other peoples money! Here is Prof. Boudreaux (Cafe Hayek) with some remarks on Mrs. Clinton and politics in general:

In his post called "Please, No Politicians in My Family" he comments on the Iowa ballots and the "expected oohhing and aahhing about the glories of modern American democracy:"

"I'm appalled by everyone who called in today expressing hopes that one day one of their children "might become President of the United States." My son, Thomas, is ten. I hope that he graduates from college and has a satisfying and lucrative career. But I'd much rather that he be even a janitor or a used-car salesman than become a successful politician. To succeed at politics - especially at the national level - requires duplicity and shamelessness rivaled only by arrogance. For my son to become President he would have to abandon nearly every moral precept that my wife and I try hard now to impart to him: honesty, forthrightness, decency, respect for others, and modesty. We emphatically do not want our son to yearn for power, for to do so would inevitably corrode his humanity. Thomas, like nearly everyone else in this world, will be fit to rule himself when he is an adult. He is not, and never will be - again like everyone else - fit to rule others, even if those others elect him to do so."
Despite some negative comments on his post, Boudreaux retains his position: "I Still Don't Want My Son to Enter Politics." He writes:
"I have no recipe to get from our world of expanding and intrusive government to one in which government is more constrained -- but I emphatically do not believe that persons elected to "lead" a powerful government will ever do much to restrain the power of that government. In a real sense, government reflects the expressive values and ideas of the populace. [...] Change these values and ideas for the better and you might rein in government. But electing Mr. or Mrs. Leader to high office will not do the trick. [...] I'm certainly not opposed to people expressing ideas, but my sense is that in political campaigns the ratio of genuine ideas to posturing-and-pandering is minuscule. I dislike watching the likes of Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for the same reason that I dislike watching professional wrestling. (Actually, if I had to choose, I sincerely would prefer to watch professional wrestling because the "victors" in those contests never get power to take my resources or to tell me how to live my life.) [...] I challenge anyone to argue that the behavior of any of the major candidates (with the exceptions of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) is admirable. Everyone knows that each serious candidate trims, waffles, is duplicitous, has his or her finger in the winds blown by polls, and wants to be President not because of any burning itch to help fellow human beings but because the job comes with all the trappings, and much of the power, of royalty. Anyone who wants power (or, if you prefer, gilded office) so badly to work as hard as candidates must work to get such office -- anyone who wants power or office so desperately so that they will pander publicly as most candidates do -- is most certainly not to be trusted with power."
In a following post, Boudreaux steps back, but only to hit harder:

"I suggested earlier that serious political candidates are never sincere. I take that back. Sometimes -- alas, not often, but sometimes -- sincerity happens on the campaign trail. I sincerely believe that the tears Hillary Clinton shed yesterday in New Hampshire were shed sincerely. But contrary to much of the spin put on that episode, I don't believe that those tears expose any admirable soft spots in Hillary Clinton. As I say, I suspect that her tears were genuine. After all, she cried not because of some real or imagined affront to herself, to her family, or to a favored political group; nor did she cry over any of her failures. Instead, Sen. Clinton cried over her own lust for power. Her emotion was sparked by her self-admiration. She got all choked up when she suggested how indispensable she is to America and when she reflected upon - perhaps a better phrase is "wallowed in" - her own magnanimity at being willing to endure the awful hardship of being President of the United States."
Thus, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal he points out:
"Surely I'm not alone in being horrified by the soaring narcissism and arrogance that Hillary Clinton revealed yesterday during her tearful moment in New Hampshire ("Tears Have Turned Campaigns," January 8). She confessed that she could not maintain her brutal campaign pace if she "didn't just passionately believe it was the right thing to do." The Senator continued: "I have so many ideas for this country, and I just don't want to see us fall backwards as a nation. This is very personal for me." No one person is as important to a free country as Ms. Clinton fancies herself to be. More fundamentally, her burning "personal" desire to subject all Americans to her "many ideas" is evidence of a frightening itch to be a social engineer. Anyone itching as badly as Ms. Clinton claims to itch to rule over others should never be trusted with power."