Thursday, October 18, 2007

Too Big Not to Fail


Seems like maybe the secessionist movements are gaining ground. See Montesquieu had it right when he said that political bodies can become too large and when they do so they lose accountability.

Nature abhors a vacuum. When political bodies become too large one hand doesnt know what the other is doing so people come in to take advantage of the situation. In economic terms this is called 'rent-seeking'; when economic actors come in to game the system by taking advantage of incomplete information and government power. In the 'good old days' people knew what their neighbors were voting for and what their tax money was being used for as they could see it being used locally.

But now that the nation-state (and even, well obviously, the city and state of New York) has grown so big politicians just come in and take advantage. Monies spent through politics are unaccountable monies because the costs are diffuse and the benefits concise. Many people pay for the privelages of the few, this is special interest politics. And all politics is special interest politics, by definition. Because, who after all pays their taxes voluntarily?

You can see too that this is not just a problem in the USA. Since 1975 taxes have slowly increased over time in most major countries. This just shows that the tendency is for things to become less accountable, for government to grow, overtime as the polity grows overtime. Small local government is cool because it is people helping out their neighbors. But the huge powerful nation-state is where the big bucks are and where the big corrupt deals are made. Let alone the war machine run amok.