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What is the "more permanent paradox" he's prefacing in this quote? It seems to me that the paradox is, the more we try to assert control over others ("bad people" usually), the more control is actually asserted over us.

1. Again, much of this is due to the ignoring of systematic slippery slope analysis in economics. My shtick.

2. The idea that government can be the cause of social problems is still not widely appreciated by the public.

3. Special interests often use the well-meaning intentions of government employees to insulate the system from attack. For example, many public school teachers do their best and so don't attack the teachers (when unions or public schools are the real issue).

4. Americans are too compliant with all sorts of violations of their liberties. Many think that those who simply do their job enforcing the commands of the Leviathan, but have little role in creating the rules, are innocent and cannot be blamed. (The "I was only following orders" excuse.)

5. When people try to resist range-of-the-moment expediencies -- like the government making tax policy on a two-month basis -- they are condemned in the press for obstructionism.

6. Too many adults believe in Santa Claus.

Nice points, Mario! I would like to insert again my hobby horse: it's all about your view of human nature. If you think that human nature is malleable and can be perfected by government if only the right laws could be passed, then you'll never give up because society with perfect humans is too attractive to give up on it.

However, if you think that there is nothing humans can do about human nature; we just have to accept the good with the bad; then you'll want to put in place institutions that limit the damage the bad side can do, as Adam Smith recommended.

And Merry Christmas everyone!

Also, I have thought often lately about the reasons Americans went to war against Great Britain to achieve independence. The grievances have always seemed mild from today's perspective. Then it occurred to me that I feel that way because we have given up so much freedom and become accustomed to it.

I wonder what the founding fathers would think about the US today and the lack of liberty. I'm guessing they would be horrified. They went to war over far less severe threat to their liberties than we face today with passiveness.

This is an important topic, but to truly understand the *force* of law, I think you need to venture beyond Public Choice Theory. If you guys are interested in "Jurisprudence," then I would suggest looking into the literature that speaks to the works of people like Hart, Dworkin, Raz, and Fuller. I know it's more convenient to stay in your "comfort zone" read what economists like Buchanan and Tullock have to say about the law, but, in my opinion, that will just not do. Telling a judge that a law does not make good "public choice" sense is probably one of the most foolish arguments you can make. Judges do not care if a law is silly or foolish. They want to know how the statute speaks to the current controversy, and what constitutional issues it might raise. Who cares if it distorts economic incentives?!?! Now, if you want to discuss things on the "legislative" side, then I suppose you could make these sort of arguments, but that is not really "law." That is public policy. But public policy is different from "the law." And anyone concerned with the effect of government should shift their focus from public policy to law, because it is in the arena of law that public policy is either struck down or upheld.

Sorry, this is the "lawyer" in me speaking. But I would encourage you guys (the serious-minded Austrians interested in law) to give the literature on jurisprudence a reading. The best place to start is probably Shapiro's article, "The Hart-Dworkin Debate: A guide for the perplexed." That will help to put the discussion in perspective, and how "legal intellectuals" talk about the law, the effects of government, being governed, etc. etc.

Merry Christmas to all good Austrians from Down Under!

Happy Christmas to all good Austrians from the UK!

I think it would be a good development if we would stop excusing bad behavior just because of good intentions. Moral action requires one both have a good goal and to engage in good action to achieve that goal.

J.M. B.: "...some miraculous rediscovery of eighteenth-century political wisdom would scarcely get us out of the woods."

Why not? Sort of depends on what he has in mind by "miraculous"; IMO, miraculous means miraculous which to me means in such an overwhelming way that we are "out of the woods."

J.M.B.: "The surface paradox between observed frustrations with governmental processes and the resulting expansion in these same processes is itself based on a deeper and more complex phenomenon, one that itself involves a more permanent paradox."

It is usually the case that one governmental activity frustrates and another is proposed to place it in check. To say "these same processes" is too vague on account of being at too high a level of aggregation to be useful. Think of the Founders idea to have offsetting branches of government (offsetting processes) at the Federal level and to set in motion competition between different state government processes. IMO, the premise of the paradox (identical processes) is a fiction that creates a fictional paradox.

Merry Christmas Coordination Problem people; I have learned much from your spirited conversations!

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