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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14138/what-kind-of-person-runs-for-public-office/

What Kind of Person Runs for Public Office?

October 4, 2010 by

Many elected officials are already wealthy by most people’s standards. What makes the wealthy and otherwise successful want to hold office? Is it an overweening ego and an insatiable hunger for public adulation? FULL ARTICLE by Doug French

{ 20 comments }

Ben Ranson October 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

“Hoppe writes…’Moreover, because of selective mating, marriage, and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are likely to be passed on within a few noble families.’”

Not likely. Regression towards the mean suggests that the children of “natural authorities” would rejoin the masses of common men within a few generations.

HL October 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

You can’t apply regression toward the mean – a group phenomena – to individual families. Though I do admit it seems every family of greatness ends up being ruined by some ninny’s idea of love with a lower-order person. Whether it’s a prince who marries a stripper or a princess who marries a personal trainer, any progeny can undo generations of effort.

Mr. Printing Press October 4, 2010 at 9:31 am

“What makes the wealthy and otherwise successful want to hold office?”

1. Most of them got their wealth through collusion with the state.
2. It’s easier to collude with the state when you’re in charge of it.
3. It’s harder to collude with the state when the people in charge of it are your business competitors.
4. It’s harder to become “wealthy and successful” when the people in charge of the state are your business competitors.

Paul in Lakeview October 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

The Sage of Baltimore had it correct that to be elected and stay elected in American politics to any full-time position requires the suspension of any ethics or good sense a person may possess.

If so, then Ron Paul suspended any ethics or good sense that he may have once possessed.

Jake October 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Well, there are exceptions to every rule.

HL October 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

Allow me to plug “Boardwalk Empire.” I stumbled upon the show on opening night and have to say I like it. It has all the stuff a good Austrian needs in a drama. It has an openly corrupt powerful politician who tell lies with fluid ease while controlling corrupt cops who commit murder with glea, and, lest there be heroes in this tale, morally bankrupt federal agents who are keen to fill that gaping void in their souls by hammering the men and women who courageously work to quench the thirst of the republic. I think the Sage of Baltimore would have found it entertaining.

J. Murray October 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I’ve considered running for public office on the pure fact that I’m tired of the system and that’s the best way to dismantle it. Then I come to the realization that I can never win against the established political elite – I’m unwilling to lie or compromise my integrity to win the position. I reserve violating those two rules for personal survival.

Troy Doering October 5, 2010 at 2:59 am

Anyone smart enough to run the country, is to smart to run for office.

If we were to ban candidates for being sociopaths from running. there would only be five people in all of Washington D.C. and they’d be custodians.

Politics is were the truly ugly and untalented, Can go and screw everything up. and maybe once every hundred years or so. somebody with some brains comes along and does more good than bad. 2052 isn’t that far away.

Walt D. October 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm
Bruce Koerber October 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Ambitious Materialistic Politicians!

The contagion in this era of materialism – which can also be described as the Dark Ages of economics – is the strange combination of ego-driven interpretation and ego-driven interventionism. Vain imaginings taint the perception of reality in the minds and hearts of the ego-driven, not only in their ambitions of who to become but also in what to do along the way.

In this era of materialism the ego-driven essentially regard themselves as gods which is surely an idle fancy and vain imagining. They want followers and they want to be obeyed.

This perversity will persist as long as people are fooled by these delusional, self-consumed devils.

Troy Doering October 5, 2010 at 3:18 am

The Cult of personality. when nightmares rule. Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot. nothing good can happen if we go that far from Liberty.

Mike D. October 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Walt: ROFL – as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Matvei October 5, 2010 at 12:44 am

Doug, Very good piece, except too much dwelling on Maslow’s hierarchy. If I understand correctly, this theory is controversial and not accepted by all psychologists. If you use psychology and so forth, you should cite more recent books/periodicals. I’m not an expert, so take this for what it’s worth. JMHO. Otherwise, good piece.

Allen Weingarten October 5, 2010 at 3:49 am

“Maslow’s view was that the basic human needs — thirst, hunger, breathing — must be satisfied before humans can accomplish or worry about anything else.”

The way this has been interpreted, leads people to believe that the colonists in 1776 could not have accomplished anything, nor could civilizations have done so prior to that period. What has been defined as “basic human needs” places our ancestors in the category of having been continually hungry, while lacking in clothes and shelter (and using outhouses to boot).

T. Paine October 5, 2010 at 9:15 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP_tC2dYX3o

This is the kind of person who runs for office.

peace be still October 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm

LOVED T. Paine’s youtube link; freaking hilarious. Yet, at the same time, I’m repulsed by this article’s message, its unmitigated anti-democracy tome, and its romanticizing over Hoppean philosopher-kings, excuse me, “natural elites”. “Natural elites” do not, and have never, existed, except in the minds of those who believed themselves worthy of such titles.

To answer the question, “What kind of person runs for public office?” Obviously, somebody intent on extracting a large deal of wealth at the public’s expense would be attracted to politics. But then, so would somebody who has firm convictions about the world and how it could be run. Somebody who believes that abortion is murder, for example, would be compelled to run for office on a pro-life platform, or at least try to effect legislation through political means.

How does this fit into libertarianism? Quite simply, the best and brightest libertarian thinkers in history have been–surprise!–politicians and legislators. Ukragina, an ancient Sumerian warrior-king, enforced the property rights of the common people. During his reign, the term ama gi, literally “to return to the mother”, was elevated to a legal concept. It represented political freedom, as slaves who were freed were literally returned to their mothers.

Likewise, William Wilberforce was a British abolitionist who helped end slavery. Anyone care to guess what his job title was?

Similarly, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a member of the French Parliament, and he was the first person to call himself an “anarchist”. That somebody could be simultaneously a politician and an anarchist might be surprising, but it shouldn’t be.

Suppose that a modern-day anarchist was determined to undermine the power of the state. What can he do? Violent revolution against the government is neither feasible nor desirable. He ought to run for public office on a moderate-sounding platform of cutting taxes and ending foreign wars. He’ll accomplish more in a year than all the mask-wearing window-smasher will in a lifetime.

peace be still October 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Maybe because he knows he can never have Prince Charles’s job, Sir Richard Branson — knighted for “services to entrepreneurship” — sticks to business and reportedly owns 360 companies.

Notably absent is any moral justification for why Prince Charles can have Prince Charles’s job, but no one else can. Pro-monarchy shills masquerading as libertarians are bereft of moral arguments, so they have to invent pragmatic, consequentialist ones.

For instance, more and more billionaires are entering the political arena. While the wealthy tycoons of a previous generation were private and tended to covet seclusion, today’s captains of industry such as Ross Perot, Michael Bloomberg, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Jon Corzine are running for office. And while Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and George Soros haven’t sought public office personally, they spend millions of dollars on political contributions and are visible in trying to sway the public debate on political issues, when their time would obviously be more productively spent (both for them and everyone else) on other, wealth-creating endeavors.

America is a market of ideas. If any of those men and women have political ideas that they want to share with the American electorate, using their own wealth, they ought to do so.

George Soros, for example, lived through both Nazi and Soviet dictatorships, emigrated to America, and amassed billions. If he wants to advance progressive ideas, either through U.S.-based think tanks or color revolution in eastern Europe, isn’t he most qualified to determine what would be the most “productive” use of his wealth? What ever happened to property rights????

Robert October 7, 2010 at 4:42 am

“Even those who begin political careers with the best intentions and have measurable abilities that would make them successful in any field soon realize that the skills required to succeed in politics are not those required outside politics.”

Political power comes from the support of others and this is where the problem begins. Politicians, prime ministers and presidents are dependent on those who give them support and help them keep their positions. But nothing is for free, at least not in the world of politics!

Mark October 10, 2010 at 6:27 am

Another characteristic of successful people is the level of their personal fitness. Here in Australia, we love our sport and we admire sporting success. Its no coincidence then that our current opposition leader is a renowned fitness fanatic. Even those who don’t like his politics can’t help but respect his fitness achievements.

Even our ex conservative Prime Minister, John Howard recognized that the constituency respects fitness, and his daily brisk walks in the outdoors are almost legendary.

Jeffrey Santillan loves stripper poles November 2, 2010 at 5:04 am

Yeah u’r right…..rules are made to follow……and need to follow always..

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