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Monday, March 4, 2013

Alexis De Tocqueville and Crony Capitalism

   In the age of crony capitalism and "green energy" company subsidies, this passage from Alexis De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" struck me [emphasis added]:
The European generally submits to a public officer because he represents a superior force; but to an American he represents a right. In America it may be said that no one renders obedience to man, but to justice and to law. If the opinion which the citizen entertains of himself is exaggerated, it is at least salutary; he unhesitatingly confides in his own powers, which appear to him to be all-sufficient. When a private individual meditates an undertaking, however directly connected it may be with the welfare of society, he never thinks of soliciting the co-operation of the Government, but he publishes his plan, offers to execute it himself, courts the assistance of other individuals, and struggles manfully against all obstacles. Undoubtedly he is often less successful than the State might have been in his position; but in the end the sum of these private undertakings far exceeds all that the Government could have done.
 A visit to the "Start a Business" page of the Commerce Department's website gives the impression that starting and even running a business without government help is not even an option.  We have completely turned "he never thinks of soliciting the co-operation of the Government" on its head.  Often short-term advantages of government assistance are traded for the far better long-term results achieved by eschewing the help of the State.

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