A Theory of Government

2007-06-08

British historian Lord Acton once wrote: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Since government is power, it follows that anyone who works in government tends to be corrupted by the experience. While I recognize that not all governments are created equal and that the presence of a strong public service ethic can help maintain a government that is less corrupt, I maintain that all governments are to some extent corrupt.

In places that are relatively open and free, corruption takes the form of special interests who use the levers of power to their own advantage; examples I'm familiar with include mining interests in Montana, the oil and gas industry in Wyoming, and real estate developers here in Denver. In places that are less open and free, corruption starts to become an end in itself; examples I'm familiar with include New Jersey and Chicago. In places that are utterly closed and unfree, corruption becomes a way of life and there is very little scope for initiative outside government (think various Banana Republics and Asian despotisms).

Or so it seems to me.


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