It Usually Starts With Friedrich Hayek

Writer Charlotte Hays tells her story:

Like most people who went into journalism in those halcyon days, I started out on the left.  We New Orleans scribblers loved then-Mayor Moon Landrieu, father of Senator Mary Landrieu, mostly because, in addition to being a colorful personality, Landrieu had a talent for getting federal money for the city. This was unquestionably a Good Thing.

Then I went to cover that press conference. It hit me that both sides (it’s too long ago to go into) were really haggling about who was going to benefit more from a federal housing program. I had an epiphany: We are becoming a nation with two classes, the earners and the confiscators. It was a blinding insight for me, and pretty soon I put down my Marcuse and picked up Hayek. I began to worry that one day the dependent class would become as large as the earning class.

That was quite a long time ago, but the insight of that day stuck with me and is the core of my political philosophy such as it is. Alas, I was right. A report today states that the government is now giving out in benefits more than it is taking in taxes ..

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A government which cannot obey any principles must maintain itself by handing out special favours to particular groups. It must buy its authority by discrimination. — F. A. Hayek

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