By Bryan Caplan
A standard complaint about libertarians is that they want to commodify the sacred. I’ve often heard, for example, that selling organs is just plain wrong. Money has no place here (unless “here” is Iran); the only legitimate motive for an organ donation is supposed to be compassion.
Here’s what I don’t get: Why don’t these squemish scruples apply to political logrolling? The bailout is 451 pages long because it is full of outlandish “sweeteners” for fence-sitting politicians. Why aren’t people horrified by these bribes? Whether or not the bailout is a good idea, shouldn’t politicians be voting their consciences, not selling their vote to the highest bidder?
I suppose many people will give the Bismarkian response that “Politics is the art of the possible.” But that just begs the question. In the market, many people want to outlaw unseemly transactions even if they have good consequences. Why do they hold politics to a lower standard?