Poor Altruistic Statocrats Who Have So Little Power!
A story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal follows up on the EU government’s actions in the face of “Russia” (i.e. Putin’s Russian state) cutting gas supplies to European customers. The article contains some some confused statements and some sound points from a narrow economic viewpoint, but that is not what I want to focus on. (See my more mainstream post of yesterday on the same topic.) I will instead underline what I think is a general result of in the economic analysis of politics.
The WSJ writes (“Europe Agrees to Cut Gas Consumption as Russia Crimps Supplies,” July 26):
“Governments haven’t done a good job at preparing the public for these kinds of demand-saving measures,” said Natasha Fielding, analyst at Argus Media.
I wonder where Ms. Fielding has been living or what she has read about the past century or century and a half—and longer if we want to reach to Alexis de Tocqueville‘s premonitions about the soft tyranny of future democratic regimes. Governments have done whatever they could without open violence, and often with sanctimonious open violence, to accustom individuals to being dependent upon, trustful of, and addicted to their political and bureaucratic masters. “Citizens” often tell pollsters that they mistrust the current government in power, but they deify the state as it should be and as it would be if and when the democratic crowd or the plebiscitic strongman espouses their own views and interests. The failure to see how free-market prices could resolve heightened scarcity in the gas market is only an example among zillions.