— David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom (via objectivistnerd)
"I have a choice of two ways of making $1,000; both are political. The first way is to work for the repeal of an enormous number of different special interest laws - CAB and ICC price-fixing, agricultural subsidies, oil quotas, and so on ad nauseam - each of which costs me from a few cents to a few hundred dollars a year. The second way is by working to pass one more special interest law which will benefit a small special interest of which I am a member and which will cost everyone else a few dollars. Suppose that I have no moral preference for one method over the other. Obviously, I will choose the second; it is enormously easier to pass one law than to repeal a hundred. Of course, the first method not only benefits me, it benefits everyone else - but I get nothing from that. The second method benefits me and a few others and harms everyone else - but that costs me nothing. Even if I am just as willing to make money in a way that benefits others as in a way that harms them, the existence of governmental institutions makes it enormously easier for me to do the latter. The result is that in a society such as ours, in which most people would rather produce than steal, we all spend a large part of our time using the laws to steal from each other."