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Sins of Businessmen, Crimes of Politicians

George Reisman has published another article at the Mises Institute. It contrasts the seriousness of the sins of businessmen with that of politicians.

There's little new here for a person already familiar with Austrian economic and libertarian political theory, but it's always good to hear the message well-stated:

Acts of dishonesty and fraud have no more essential connection to business activity than they do to the practice of medicine or the performance of music or to any of the arts or sciences. Just as the existence of dishonest physicians, musicians, artists, or scientists has no actual bearing on the nature of those activities as such, so too the existence of dishonest businessmen has no actual bearing on the nature of business activity as such.

In sharpest contrast, the activity of politicians and government officials is always inherently negative — it is always destructive or threatens destruction. This is because the foundation of all law and government activity is physical force or the threat of physical force. This is expressed in the ancient Latin dictum "nulla lege sine poena," which means "no law without punishment." That is, there is no such thing as a law, administrative ruling, edict, decree, or government order of any kind that is not backed by the threat to use physical force to compel obedience to it. In the absence of the government's ability to use physical force to compel obedience, its declarations would be without effect. They could simply be disregarded at will.

Of course, you should read the whole thing.

Tiny Island