Why Be Sceptical of Big Government?
Sometime back, I spoke in a talk about the politics & economics of climate change. When I brought up the dishonesty of Climategate (surprisingly, only 1 out of an audience of 30-40 heard of it), the impression that some got was that I was attempting a broad-sweeping smear of the progressive environmentalist agenda by the bad practices of a few scientists.
That wasn’t my intention and in hindsight, I wish I clarified it. Rather, the simple point that I tried painstakingly to illustrate was that the more power is concentrated in one location, the higher likelihood that people within that institutional environment will attempt to manipulate it towards their own ends. We see this happening in full effect with the IPCC – an intergovernmental body that is propped up by the United Nations. This point is a simple one on the logic of politics. It doesn’t matter if you’re progressive, conservative or libertarian, and it’s not something that is exclusive to politically-motivated climate change scientists in Climategate. Many of us have similar experiences in our daily lives. Students butter up their teachers in order to get insider tips on their examinations, employees curry favour with their bosses to secure a better standing within the company or competitive siblings sweet talking their parents for favours. In all these brief examples, the teacher, the corporate boss or the parent are central locuses of power, hence there is a competitive rivalry to influence the power in one’s favour. This is the simple reason why libertarians advocate minimal government and are ever sceptical of proposals for governments to exercise more control over the economy. If you want less abuses of power, then the simple lesson is to stop supporting concentrations of power.