A re-post from a couple of years ago:
Across the pond, Mediocracy is often thinking about the sorts of things that we puzzle over. In this case, the tendency of people to expect governments to perfect the world. One quote from his piece on "Freedom To" vs. "Approval Of":
Another point of confusion for some libertarians, as for most others with enthusiastic views about the right way to run the world, is the false dichotomy between 'everything is fine' and 'collective action is required'. It is in fact possible to hold a third position, namely that:
(a) the world is imperfect
(b) a legal framework which upholds private agreements is a good thing, because it helps to exploit the benefits of exchange (this principle is usually abbreviated into 'free markets')
(c) specific market failures may require collective action (defence is definitely one; education and medicine definitely aren't; other putative market failures are a matter for debate)
(d) apart from providing a safety net, trying to address any other imperfection by means of government action is to be avoided, if for no other reason than that it invariably involves some form of coercion.
There is a tremendous psychological pressure in contemporary society to jump from 'something less than ideal is happening' to 'the state must intervene'. In fact, it is more than a pressure, it has become an unconscious automatic connection.
Well, not an automatic connection for me. Despite all of the accumulated evidence to the contrary, many insist on that "hope" the hope that government can and will fix "it." And politicians are more than happy to exploit that, because accumulating power tends to be their "unconscious automatic connection."
I heard it yesterday from somebody at lunch: "Bush doesn't care that we're in a recession." I noted (to myself) that this nice Liberal lady was assuming 1. that how much Bush emotes matters and 2. that a President could control international markets if he only chose to do do. I elected to move on to other subjects.