The Fantasy Government and Today´s Government

Today, there exists a false belief within the general public considering government officials. Popular thought is that they are public servants devoted to enforce the good of “their” people. Reality is though, that individuals are self-interested and they remain self-seeking when they enter the government.

Politicians desire to maximize their vote total to ensure reelection, bureaucrats want to potentiate their income and power, and voters want to upgrade the material benefits they receive from the government while minimizing what they pay into it. If we are not people with the same mission, then we will never achieve anything profitable and attain a rewarding outcome. The Public Choice school of economics exposes the following.

When you are thinking about purchasing a good of some sort, say, a tablet or a smartphone, you exploit time in your decision-making process in order to do the correct thing. When you buy a smartphone, for example, you begin to analyze thoroughly the benefits of each smartphone and the costs of acquiring them. After researching for a certain period of time, you become fully informed and make a secure choice to buy the one that suites your needs and budget.

However, with the state, things do not function in the same manner. Here you probably see the gains, but you have no idea what the costs are. Therefore, the decision process will be different, because we do not obtain the bills, but get taxed for things that we will perhaps never use. Is it not true that when you do not see the cost of something, you do not pay much attention to your choice, like free food? This situation will create different incentives inside of you.

If you pay for pizza, you get pizza. But if you vote for a politician and his policies, you will probably earn what you want only if 50% of everyone else agrees with you. Acting in the market yields a direct benefit or a definite cost loss, if you took the wrong decision. Nevertheless, there is no such feedback within voting, hence, there is less percentage of procuring what you long for. Through this we know that our quantity of thought invested will be utterly different in making either of these decisions. Private exchanging ensures a mutual profit, but “public” exchanges do not guarantee any “general” good, only groups of people benefit.

Afterwards, we also have logrolling in politics. Such tactic is used to favor the minority, therefore, when your candidate wins elections, do not expect that he will still be doing the things you want him to. The tyranny of the minority is utilized in order to force the majority in bending votes towards some projects. These minority politicians can feel content about their “favored” regulation in which they will not bear the costs of applying. Then, bureaucrats face no market feedback, thus they can ideate acutely mediocre and costly regulation without facing any consequences.

Inform Yourself

Maybe you say that you are informed enough to not make a dumb vote. Well, do you know who your U.S. congressman is? If you do, then, do you know what your U.S. congressman´s last vote was?

See, why are people poorly informed when it comes to political issues and candidates? The answer is simple, opportunity cost. The majority of people prefer to earn money, spend time with their families, exercise, and enjoy their leisure, instead of acquiring political knowledge. Enjoying leisure and all those things has a direct, positive impact in one´s life, unlike the mere act of voting. In other words, many people do not want to pay the price of sacrificing their family time for political knowledge and voting.

Then, voters realize that their vote has zero chance of influencing an elections outcome, so they have no impulse in gathering information. This “rational ignorance” in voters causes them to vote on the basis of big issues and slogans. For this matter, negative advertising becomes very effective and because many base their choice on shallow grounds, preposterous attacks over politicians regularly influence voter´s selections.

Adding this whole process together, will obviously equal to inconvenient choices. Poor candidates will be elected and their policies will eventually jeopardize the people. Thereby, people are rather unimpeded in giving vent to whatever emotion or anything else while they vote. Consequently, voting is basically done for personal satisfaction, like when you cheer in a sporting event and the athletes cannot hear you. You feel falsely involved in doing something significant for the nation.

As mentioned before, choosing a politician is not analogous to choosing a product on the free market, and not just because you do not earn what you want only if 50% agrees. In a supermarket, you drive an empty cart where you place in all the things that you need or desire. Let us say you place in it some wine, butter, cheese, shampoo, and beauty cream, but you don´t put in it bread, diapers, and a facewash, that you do not want and need.

A candidate is like going into a supermarket that only has prefilled grocery carts. Cart A has a facewash, cheese, wine, bread, and no butter. Cart B has shampoo, butter, diapers, and no beauty cream. Possibly, you can choose cart A despite the fact it has the facewash, bread, and no butter, or you choose cart B ignoring it lacks the beauty cream and has the diapers. Imagine each candidate has a position from A, B, C, or D. Do people prefer certain candidate because of his position on this or that situation, or in spite of that? Even so, when people vote for that candidate he or she feels they are supported by the people in all of their political views.

To continue with the analogy, the prefilled cart is so full it might also have a little “surprise” under all the products, and it will only come out after you have removed everything from it. For instance, you did not see the diapers until you emptied the cart. This occurred because the diaper manufacturers asked the store to place their product in all carts. Things like these happen with a politician; some of his policies are revealed after he has taken office. Many of those policies come from special interest groups who gave him money.

Conceivably, next elections you might want to read the economic papers and inform yourself profoundly on who is trying to become a leader in your nation.

Examples of Today´s Government: Front-loading and Political Engineering

A somewhat helpful example of the way government functions in America is front-loading. Here, for example, in the military, they overpromise about a weapon to get the government to start funding the project. They say that the weapon is the newest, most accurate, effective, cheapest etc. The government is convinced and they begin raising tax money, as soon as possible, to pay for the project. Nonetheless, when the weapon project is finished, it turns out it is not the newest, most accurate, effective, and is highly expensive. Some might think that the army is doomed and the project will be turned down, but the taxing has already been done and it is too late. Also, this institution is astute and they apply another strategy.

Political engineering is activated and they have to build the product all over again. The project´s jobs, profits, and tax revenues are propagated all around the country to as many political and congressional districts as possible, where the congressman is an influential committee chairman. By doing this, they will now have congressmen with vested interests to keep the project going.

Issues like these have befallen numerous times, like when they propose to design a weapon against a specific enemy, and the enemy ends up not existing. Yet, the production of the weapon continues to unfold laying oppressive taxes, which are difficult to stop, on the public´s back.

What is this in practical terms? The governmental plundering of the public to give money to a certain group that benefits mutually with the government.

Examples of Today´s Government: The Success of Africa

Another great example of politics without “romance” is the “success” that Africa had with governments that wielded great power over the different African economies.

These countries were not exactly socialists, the heart of the matter is that you cannot truly define their form of government. What you can say about them is that they had plenty of government intervention, specifically upon their nations´ economies. There was also a great cult of personality around the leader, “enhanced” by the daily news.

In Zaire (known as Congo) there was a man whose name was associated with corruption and undeserved, formidable wealth. He was Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled from 1965-1997. During the 1970s of his governing, there was a raise in copper prices, which benefitted the copper rich nation of Zaire. Unsurprisingly, basically all the money earned went to the 11 palaces of Mobutu, the buying off of his enemies, and the immediate millionaire prosperity of his friends.

Mobutu became one of the wealthiest men on earth, by accumulating approximately 3 billion dollars in his “big” pocket. This man also said that the future of Zaire looked bright, but went and placed his money in European banks (apparently that is where the real brightness was).

Mr. Seko, too launched what could be known as the African “authenticity” program. To prevent people from standing against him, he “united” Zaire. All Zairians were told to change their Christian names for African names and they could not wear western clothing. Mobutu Sese Seko also canceled Christmas and placed his portrait on all of the churches. Next, he drove out Asian merchants, Belgian technicians and businessmen, and snatched $500 million worth of foreign business property.

Now, Zaire would be prosperous and keep all glory to itself, until the 1980s when copper prices fell and the country´s economic boom ended. With this said, Mobutu had to invite the Asians, Belgians, etc. back to Zaire. In the end, there was high price inflation, the transportation systems were broken down, there was a heavy debt, and hospitals were left with no bandages, oxygen, machines, etc.

There are many other examples, like this previous one about politicians to be thought of as public servants, but ultimately creating policies that destroyed their peoples. The last one I will expose to you, is that one of Julius Nyerere who ruled Tanzania from 1961 to 1985.

Nyerere said that his country would not have an army, they would be neutral in the cold war, there would be a tiny difference between rich and poor, the country would receive no outside aid, and that he would welcome an opposition party.

Many western intellectuals, specifically left liberals who believed in lots of government intervention in the economy absolutely exalted Nyerere. They said that he was going to save his country. According to them, he was a smart man who said that wise government did not believe in the superstition of free market and capitalism. It was claimed that he would demonstrate the capability of the government to make people prosperous. Julius had a western education, was a smart guy, who gave the appearance of nobility by working on a low salary and making budget cuts in his nation.

Well, all things came to light and he ended up toppling three neighboring countries, and did not allow the newspapers to disagree. No one could dissent with “the teacher”. In 1964 he appointed a commission to design a “democratic one-party state” whose job was not to consider whether Tanzania should be a one-party state. That decision had already been taken, their task was to say what kind of one-party state they should have.

Julius Nyerere received more foreign aid than any other president in black Africa, nationalized the economy and rental property, and raised taxes to redistribute wealth. During the year of 1967 he formed the Arusha Declaration. It dictated people to work hard, not strive for personal gain, and grow more; then they would have the Tanzania they wanted. The declaration, though, was just an excuse to arrest capitalists in the country, like Asians.

Therefore, he crushed all incentives in the people to produce and be rich, due to the 95% of taxes that were charged to those who gained $30,000 a year.

What beautiful governments that do the best for their nation, and are not self-interested at all. You think these are outrageous rulings? Well, the truth is that our government is not far from them.

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2 responses to “The Fantasy Government and Today´s Government”

  1. Marcy Oliver says :

    Interesting account about Africa, lots of corruption in all parts of the world.

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