A major advantage of limited government is that the most dangerous individuals can do only limited damage if they rise at the top of the state.

A recent book I am reading (and will review for Regulation) provides a good illustration. In More: The World Economy from the Iron Age to the Information Age, Philip Coggan writes (p. 210):

Ford was, like many other early auto leaders, both a visionary businessman and a thoroughly nasty person. In 1920 he published a series of pamphlets with the title The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, which earned him a citation in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. As late as 1939 Ford sent Hitler a cheque for $50,000 on his birthday and, in the following year, claimed that “international Jewish bankers” had caused the outbreak of war. Louis Renault [the founder of the French automaker Renault] was another anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator; the British carmaker William Morris funded Sir Oswald Mosley, Britain’s wannabe Führer; and Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat backed Mussolini.

One should add to the list the names of many great scientists, artists, and even businessmen, who espoused socialist or communist causes—that is, fascism of the left. The rightist form of unlimited power is not the only dangerous one.

When acting on the free market, such dangerous men as those named by Coggan achieved some good, for the market obliges them to serve their fellow citizens if they want to prosper. It is easy to imagine the evil they would have wreaked at the helm of the powerful states of our time.