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Monday, June 21, 2010

Dishonest Politicians Get Paid More

Why do corrupt politicians squeeze out honest politicians? There's a very obvious explanation. If you're an honest politician, you only get paid your base salary. If you're a corrupt politician, you get to augment your salary with all the State resources you steal.

This reddit thread about real-world corruption was widely cited. It has some interesting bits.

Suppose I decided to run for Congress, and behave honestly. That's an economically bad decision. There's a lot of time and energy spent on the campaign. If I win, the salary is worse than many private-sector jobs.

A corrupt politician has a much higher effective salary. It's even better if the politician is so pro-State brainwashed that he doesn't know his own corruption. He thinks "Everyone does it. That's the way the game is played." In his own mind, the corrupt politician is the hero.

To what extent are corrupt politicians and lobbyists aware of their crimes? As a practical matter, it's irrelevant. "Intentions matter" is a principle of corrupt State law. The correct answer is "outcomes matter". Corrupt politicians lead to massive theft. It makes no difference if they're doing it on purpose, or if they're so stupid that they believe their own lies. It makes you a better psychopath if you believe your own lies; that makes it easier to convince the victims about your sincerity.

When all your peers are scumbags, corruption seems normal! In such an environment, the honest person sticks out as abnormal. Honest people learn to avoid a career in politics. They get negative feedback if they start investigating. Similarly, honest and intelligent people tend to avoid careers as journalist, lawyers, and other parasite-dominated careers.

Most former Congressmen get high-paying jobs as lobbyists. This leads to a "quid pro quo" arrangement. The Congressman lets the lobbyist write laws for him, in exchange for a high-paying job later.

State corruption is fueled by taxation/theft. State bureaucracy selects against intelligent and honest people. Once most high-ranking State insiders are corrupt, reform is impossible.


Scott said...

Your entries are always logical, full of common sense, and correct but depressingly surprising proclamations that the emperor has no clothes.

In this one I liked how you called out that intentions shouldn't matter since psychopaths are always well intentioned. For example, we know that Hitler was genuine and sincere and truly had nothing but the best wishes for his homeland. But this seldom is mentioned and is rightly irrelevant.

FSK said...

Some psychopaths have good intentions and some psychopaths are doing it on purpose. They're psychopaths, so how can you be sure? Psychopaths believe their own lies, because it makes them more effective liars. If psychopaths didn't believe their own lies, then people might pick up their body language.

Rather than arguing about the motivations of psychopaths, it's better to say "Outcomes matter, and not intentions."

For example, a policeman shoots and kills an unarmed victim. The policeman said "I didn't do it on purpose! I thought he had a gun!" State law accepts that as a valid excuse.

"Intentions matter and not outcomes!" is an excuse by State parasites to justify good-intentioned theft.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Perhaps it's even simpler than that. Honest people don't get elected because they know they can't promise every single special interest group the moon on a stick.

Anonymous said...

Could it also slightly be a case of the devil told me to do it! Sure take the money but who provides the backroom? FSK you made a great post!

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