Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Worriers

The worrying classes got hold of government in the 1930s. Then the worrying masses got in the habit of looking to government to solve every problem -- no, to anticipate every problem so that nothing bad ever happens to anyone.

Rational people -- libertarians, thinking conservatives, and free-market economists -- can talk until their throats go dry, but it won't sway the worriers. Worriers cannot be convinced that people would be better off with less regulation, with private Social Security accounts, with even fewer restraints on international trade, and on, and on. Worriers seem incapable of envisioning the greater good that economic freedom brings to most people. And having lost the habit of private charity, they cannot imagine that the many who profit by economic freedom will help the few who do not.

Ironically, FDR said it best: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." But FDR, as usual, did exactly the wrong thing. He turned government over to the worrying classes and seduced the worrying masses into dependence on government. The cycle of power and dependence remains unbroken.