Statism as Theology, or why Envy is beating Greed at the polls

Doug Bandow’s book “The Politics of Envy: Statism as Theology” was written in 1994, but this following excerpt rings true on Election Day 2008:

Today we have to contend with an age of politics  that has not yet fully wound down. And that politics, in the United States, at least, has increasingly been based on envy, the desire not to produce more for onseself, but to take as much as possible from others. Of course, all of the proponents of the politics of envy proclaim themselves animated by public-spiritedness: who in Washington would admit that the higher taxes he advocates will be used to pay off the interest group of the day, whether farmer, coproration, or union? Who would suggest that he has anything but good will toward those who he is intent on mulcting?

Indeed, the problem of envy has always been much more serious than that of greed. Those who are greedy may ruin their own lives, but those who are envious contaminate the larger community by letting their covetousness interfere with their relations with others. Moreover, one can satisfy greed in innocuous, even positive ways — by being brighter, working harder, seeing new opportunities, and meeting the demands of others, for instance. In contrast, envy today is rarely satisfied without use of the state. True, some people pull a gun and heist the nearest person’s wallet or purse. But for the otherwise law-abiding, the only way to take what is someone else’s is to enlist one or more public officials to seize land, impose taxes, regulate activities, conscript labor, and so on. Statism, then, is integral to the politics of envy. Statism has become the basic theology for those committeed to using government to coercively create their preferred version of the virtuous society.

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