Politics is Other People's Money

This article by co-editor Ole-Jacob Hoff is from the September 23, 1967 issue of the Norwegian weekly, Farmand, published by Dr. Trygve J. B. Hoff. While written with a view to the current local elections in Norway, its content may apply to other countries and other elections as well.

One of the shorter definitions we know is precisely this: politics is other people’s money.

We quote it here as an aid to voters who, their senses numbed by party propaganda and the promises of politicians, are start­ing to wonder just what a demo­cratic election is about. Because, dear voter, this, like most other elections, is concerned with one thing and one thing only — your money, and who is to spend it —you or the politicians.

Every party has its magic form­ula designed to convince you, the voter, of the wonders that will be wrought with your money, if only that particular party’s politicians are empowered to conjure with it. "Planning and Controls" are what the Labour Party wants, while "Rural Development" is the uni­versal incantation intoned by them all. But — as voters will already have perceived—these catch phrases are rehashes of the age-old assertion that by investing your money via a multitude of bureaucrats you will benefit more than if you invest it yourself.

Is the politicians’ claim justi­fied? Obviously it is not. Neither is it true. The high standard of living presently enjoyed by the Norwegian people has not been brought about by the efforts of politicians or the government. It is attributable solely to the profit­able activities of private business­men. What is more, such benefits as have accrued to the people of Norway would probably have been far greater had not the state and the authorities intervened as ex­tremely expensive middlemen. Admittedly, the politician’s lot is not an easy one: in a modern democracy like Norway politicians are compelled to bid at auction for public support. This explains why they strive to outbid one another, and frequently make promises they are unable to redeem.

Don’t let them confuse you, dear voter. Their magic formulas are no more effective in the rarefied atmosphere of political promises than they are at the earthly level of private enterprise. The real point at issue is to what extent you are willing to put yourself under the tutelage of the authori­ties.

Nevertheless—listen carefully to what the politicians have to say. If you happen to hear of someone who, instead of wanting to do con­juring tricks with your money, is prepared to take a chance on you — private citizen and taxpayer, the man politicians and authorities live on (and off) — then, but only then, you may heed the dictates of your heart and reason:

Vote for him.



The Duty of Private Judgment

For nothing is more incongruous than for an ad­vocate of liberty to tyrannize over his neighbors.


Further Reading