Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Bullies, Muggers, Sneak Thieves, and Con Men

Under the title, Four Types of Government Operatives: Bullies, Muggers, Sneak Thieves, and Con Men Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute, considers why the beginning of political wisdom is the realization that despite everything you’ve always been taught, the government is not really on your side; but is, instead, out to get you. Here’s a taste:

Without dismissing the alleged dangers entirely, a sensible person quickly appreciates that the threat (of attack by foreigners—nowadays, by Islamic terrorists, in particular) is slight—just do the math, using reasonable probability coefficients—whereas the cost of (purportedly) dealing with it is colossal. In short, as General Smedley Butler informed us more than seventy years ago, the modern military establishment, along with most of its blessed wars, is for the most part nothing but a racket. Worse, because of the way it engages and co-opts powerful elements of the private sector, it gives rise to a costly and dangerous form of military-economic fascism. Lately, the classic military-industrial-congressional complex has been supplemented by an even more menacing (to our liberties) security-industrial-congressional complex, whose aim is to enrich its participants by equipping the government for more effectively spying on us and invading our privacy in ways great and small.

3 Responses to “Bullies, Muggers, Sneak Thieves, and Con Men”

  1. Paul says:

    What else does he expect from a government that has only just accepted the existence of climate change and sees a very limited role for itself in meeting the health, education and social wellbeing needs of its electorate.

    jb says: Maybe he doesn’t expect much, Paul. But it’s always nice to hear another voice.

  2. Peter says:

    What is one to think and do in these times?

    I had a jar of delicious rhubarb jam confiscated at Charles de Gaulle Airport last month after I had thoughtlessly stuffed it in my carry-on rather than in my checked baggage. Such excesses can only benefit the jam-makers of France.

    On the other hand, how comfortable would I be if I knew that someone was doing cost-benefit analyses and calculating acceptable levels of risk before implementing heightened security measures?

    jb says: Hi Peter, good to see you here. And I think we can safely say that someone is doing the math. It’s some of the answers that seem to be the problem.

  3. John says:

    I fail to see the bad thing about giving government more tools to protect it’s people, First of all USA is in war, second, if you not are criminal you don’t have to much to worry about.

    I know There are concerns about personal integrity, which is always somethings that has to be handled carefully, but what are the other options. USA is in the forefront, protecting democracy, they will have enemies and terror attacks can be done with devastating consequences.

    jb says: It’s personal liberty we’re worried about, John. Not integrity.