I have a 100-point question: What happens ot politicians who lie? Nothing? What do you mean? They can afford misleading their voters by the most fantastic offers, and after they come to power pretend to forget what they promised, because they have immunity and the laws do not include the moral norm?
Sort of; politicians now can utter any enormity nowadays and have no responsibility for what they say. Subsequently, the idea of erosion of those in power is presented as an axiom. Without considering that an axiom is just an error so old nobody protests it anymore.
Actually, those in power get eroded only if the proper steps are not taken. From the “axiom” of their inevitable erosion, we would infer that anyone who climbs to power around here, or who assumes a high position in the state, is below the office they get.
As a proof that those in power are not necessarily eroded, we will mention the prime ministers who governed the United Kingdom for a decade. They are, of course, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Thatcher, also called the Iron Lady, even had policies that cannot be labeled as “populist.”
And let’s not stop at the examples of Brits. Before becoming the Secretary General of NATO, liberal Anders Fogh Rasmussen was head of the Danish government for eight years, thus upsetting the taboo of the welfare state as a solution.
But when politicians come in front of the voters with the most blatant lies, then do not become liable for it, they do it to compete. And while market competition is continuous, allowing the buyer to pick the seller – as Buchanan and Wagner noted, the political competition is intermittent; a decision is mandatory only once in four years.
Market competition allows the simultaneous presence of several competitors; a seller taking over a sizable part of the market does not deny a minority of buyers the possibility to select their supplier. Conversely, the political competition is “all or nothing”: by conquering a majority of the market, one supplier becomes the only ruler.
In market competition, the buyer is reasonably certain about what they purchase. Which is not true in political competition, because here a buyer gets the services of an agent that is not held to some decisions, and to whom they must delegate a high degree of discretionary decision. Politicians cannot be made liable for their promises, like private sellers are.
Moreover, the need for a politician to secure the cooperation of a majority of politicians results in the vote for a politician being less clear than the one for a private company.
The main problem observed in political competition is thus the impossibility to adjust one’s preferences. Contrariwise, in the product and service market one does not keep buying from those one doesn’t want anymore. And because you cannot change their preferences, the politicians emotionally blackmails you to keep you on their side. Meaning when they don’t reform the system, as they promised during the campaign, they highlight the misconducts of their competitors.
Buchanan and Wagner also point out in their book ‘Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes’ that politicians always aim at maximizing their electoral gains. They try to get as many votes as possible by committing budget expenditure, risking to lose the votes of taxpayers in order to support such expenditure. As we can see, here’s the eternal problem of the politician who cannot take trust and money from the same place. Unfortunately, turning to the “tier” of voters who create a critical mass, the political gamut is shifted to the left.
Taking more and more money to bring public goods in the political competition, they deplete by taxation the resources (capital, cash) necessary for the economic competition.
In other words, the investment force and the business environment are altered by the state growth. The amount of private goods goes down, and their price goes up.
What we are offered today, with no exceptions, in all countries, is a situation without political parties in the classic sense, with pressure groups only, Mises observes.
A pressure group is one that wants a special privilege at the expense of the general population, consisting in subsidies, in laws preventing others from engaging in competition against the members of the group. This guarantees a special position for the pressure group. The privilege offers it things refused to others.
And each party has its share of representatives of the pressure groups, more interested in cooperation with representatives of the same group in the rival party, than with the members of their own party.
This is a completely different context from the 18th-19th centuries, when the ideas that led philosophers and lawyers in laying the foundations of the new political system were based on the premise that the ultimate goal for every decent human being is the general welfare of the country.
They saw the rivalry among parties as natural, considering normal the existence of different opinions on the optimal ruling of a state.
People with similar ideas on a matter would cooperate, and it was called a party. But party structures were not permanent. They did not rely on individual positions within the social structure. They could change when people realized that their original positions were wrong.
Is this golden past in any way similar to the present conditions? Not at all. Where should we start? From holding politicians responsible for their promises, like private sellers are in the markets. Because politicking lies should not be accepted as normal, but seen as very serious.