Privileges and Privacy for the Rulers

Recent journalistic investigations revealed that the family and friends of New York governor Andrew Cuomo benefited from nomenklatura privileges at the time when ordinary people had problems getting Covid-19 tests and timely results. These state-privileged people could be tested rapidly, often at home and many times if they wished. Their tests were often rushed to laboratories by state troopers and treated in priority. Liz Wolfe of Reason Magazine writes:

There was limited testing if you thought you’d been exposed, and long wait times if you did manage to nab one of those precious few tests.

But not if your last name starts with a C and ends with an uomo! …

The Albany Times Union reported last night that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the state’s top health officials to prioritize COVID testing for “the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration.”

This reminded me that, in late December, I reported on Cuomo’s intention to prosecute those who would give or sell Covid-19 vaccines to anybody outside the groups favored by the state and its priorities (“Free Enterprise: A Daring New Year Wish”). At that time, I asked the governor’s office, through its website, if he had himself received the vaccine. Two weeks later, having received no reply, I rapidly drafted a freedom-of-information request (called Freedom of Information Law or FOIL request in New York State) and emailed it to both the governor’s office and the New York State Department of Health.

The two replies landed in my virtual mailbox a few days apart in January. The letter from the Executive Chamber of the State of New York said:

This letter responds to your correspondence dated January 12, 2021, which pursuant to FOIL, requested:

“the dates Governor Cuomo, members of his family, and immediate staff have received vaccines against Covid-19; and indicate in which group of priority recipients (according to the State of New York’s policies) they fall.”

To the extent your request is reasonably described, these records are not maintained by the NYS Executive Chamber.

Please be advised that even assuming such records were maintained by the Executive Chamber, they would be exempt pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(b) because, if disclosed, would “constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Additionally, pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87(2)(a), an agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that are “specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute.” Accordingly, to the extent records may exist said records are exempt from production pursuant to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Public. Law 104-191 and New York State Public Health Law §18.

The reply from the Department of Health was not very different:

This letter responds to your Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request of January 12, 2021, in which you requested “the dates Governor Cuomo, members of his family, and immediate staff have received vaccines against Covid-19; and indicate in which group of priority recipients (according to the State of New York’s policies) they fall.”

Please be advised, the records you are requesting, to the extent such records exist, contain protected health information (PHI) regarding the individuals referenced in your request. In accordance with New York State law and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (Federal Law 45 C.F.R. §164.524), the Department requires a duly executed HIPAA authorization form in order to release PHI regarding any individual. We note your request was not accompanied by any HIPAA authorization forms.

Accordingly, your request is denied pursuant to POL §87(2)(a) as “specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute” in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (Federal Law 45 C.F.R. §164.524), and §87(2)(b), because disclosure “would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

We now know that the governor himself waited his turn and received the vaccine in mid-March with much public fanfare.

The replies to my FOIL requests, however, show something interesting. One might have thought that privacy laws were meant to protect individuals against Leviathan’s lust for private information. But these laws seem to have been hijacked to protect the privacy of the rulers themselves. Perhaps actual governments don’t work as their ideal models?

Is “highjack” exaggerated? Consider the following. If, as current legal doctrine claims, ordinary individuals have no expectation of privacy when they enter an air terminal or cross the U.S. border or relate to their loving governments in certain other ways, why would political rulers have an expectation of privacy while they serve the people and sacrifice themselves for the “public good”?


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Krugman Illustrates Caplan’s Point

In January 2019, co-blogger Bryan Caplan wrote:

The theory of market failure is a reproach to the free-market economy.  Unless you have perfect competition, perfect information, perfect rationality, and no externalities, you can’t show that individual self-interest leads to social efficiency.*  And this anti-market interpretation is largely apt.  You can’t legitimately infer that markets are socially optimal merely because every market exchange is voluntary.

Contrary to popular belief, however, market failure theory is alsoa reproach to every existing government.  How so?  Because market failure theory recommends specific government policies – and actually-existing governments rarely adopt anything like them.

What we also often see and, depressingly, even usually see, is that economists who are pro-government intervention to fix market failures have a much lower standard for the government than they have for the market. So the odds are that avoiding the specific government policy being proposed would get us closer to the optimum than implementing the government policy.

A case in point is Paul Krugman and his views on the recent $1.9 trillion spending bill. In Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “Larry Summers versus the Stimulus,” March 18, 2021, Wallace-Wells makes that point, although I’m not sure that that’s his intention.

Wallace-Wells, describing a recent debate between Krugman and Larry Summers about the Biden spending plan, writes:

Krugman asked, rhetorically, which elements of the package Summers would cut. Not the public goods, like vaccination and funds for school reopening, and surely not the needed income support. What was left was the part that members of Congress had most vociferously demanded: the aid to state and local governments (which Krugman agreed probably exceeded the fiscal need) and the checks to people who had not much suffered. Krugman said, “The checks, which are the least-justifiable piece in terms of standard economics, are also by far the most popular, and I don’t think we can entirely disregard that.”

Put aside the fact that the funds for school reopening are almost certainly not justified because the risks to students and teachers are so low. Notice what even Krugman admits. First, that the aid to state and local governments is too much, even by his standards. Second, the checks to people who hadn’t suffered much, which are a huge part of the package, are the “least-justifiable piece in terms of standard economics.” And what’s Krugman’s justification for those payments? That they are “by far the most popular” and, for that reason, we can’t “entirely disregard that.”

In short, in order to get hundreds of billions in spending that Krugman thinks are justified, he is willing to have the government spend other hundreds of billions for things that are not justified. Such is the nature of many, perhaps most, economists’ advocacy of government policy.

Note: The picture above is of a Rube Goldberg machine, which is what I think a lot of government policy is like. There is one difference. The Rube Goldberg machine always worked.


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The Logical Basis is a Difference in Incentives

British economist Charles A. E. Goodhart writes:

Thus, people voting with their dollars are supposed to be rational and to reach an efficient outcome, but when they vote with their ballots, they may not achieve their own best interests. I have always found it difficult to perceive the logical basis for this dichotomy.

This is from his “The Free Banking Challenge to Central Banks,” Critical Review, Summer 1994.

The basis for the dichotomy is a difference in incentives. When people are spending their own money, their expenditures have a strong influence on what they get. If I decide to buy a Camry, for instance, I get a Camry. But when people vote, their vote is not determinative. To continue with the car case, if we were voting on whether Toyota Camrys or Honda Accords are provided, our individual vote has a tiny, tiny probability of influencing whether Camrys or Accords are provided. Therefore, we have little incentive to compare the two.

Economists call this “rational ignorance” and it sometimes bleeds over into what co-blogger Bryan Caplan calls “rational irrationality.”

By the way, this article is a reading for Jeff Hummel’s Masters course in Monetary Theory and Policy, a course offered by San Jose State University’s economics department. I’m watching it on Zoom, doing all the reading and homework, and learning a lot.


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The President and the Good King Dagobert

It is suggested that the good President Biden called off one air strike in Syria after being told in extremis that a woman and a couple of children were near the planned impact (Gordon Lubold et al., “Biden Called Off Strike on a Second Military Target in Syria Last Week,” Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2021), just the opposite of what happened in the movie Eye in the Sky. I suspect that Joe Biden is, in private life, a decent human being. But he has some potential, prefigured in his previous politician’s life, to be a monster in politics. Jason Brennan argues in Against Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2016) that “politics makes us worse.”

But there are two related lessons of the aborted Syria strike that are perhaps less immediately obvious.

The first one is that simple people like to think that their ruler is good. “If only the king (or the Party) knew what’s happening, he would stop it.” Biden didn’t let it happen because he is a good ruler. That may bring to mind—or at least to the mind of a critical Frenchman—the French nursery rhyme “Le bon roi Dagobert” (The Good King Dagobert), in reference to the 7th-century monarch. Interestingly enough, though, the song was composed to mock royalty a few decades before the French Revolution of 1789, that is, before the French replaced a weak king with a series of strong dictators—what frequently happens in revolutions.

Trusting the rulers is an old habit of mankind, probably deeply embedded in our brains by evolution just like, according to Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek, tribal instincts are. In this perspective, the “Great Society” (to use Hayek’s formula) requires that we reject our tribal instincts in favor of an abstract and impersonal order based on individual liberty.

Despite the glitch of 1789, we can view the Enlightenment—including the Scottish Enlightenment of David Hume and Adam Smith—as a major step towards Hayek’s Great Society. The American Revolution was another step. But can mankind stop trusting its supposedly benevolent rulers? This is a crucial question, especially pressing in our troubled times. James Buchanan, the Nobel economist whose work in “constitutional political economy” was devoted to the liberal ideal although in another perspective than Hayek’s, ended up sharing the latter’s pessimism. In a Public Choice article published a few years before his death, Buchanan wrote:

The thirst or desire for freedom, and responsibility, is perhaps not nearly so universal as so many post-Enlightenment philosophers have assumed.

Perhaps many people do want their security guaranteed and their lives ruled by a good king Dagobert?

The second lesson illustrated by the cancelled strike is that it is in the state’s interest to have its subjects believe that the king or democratic ruler is good and benevolent. (In a state that is not perfectly autocratic, “the state’s interest” means the result of the interactions between politicians, courtiers, and government bureaucrats.) It is thus in the state’s interest to reveal, embellish, or leak instances of the rulers’ goodness. Isn’t there a good chance that the Syria incident was leaked under orders from our good king Dagobert?

Even under a constitutional—that is, limited—government, the belief in a good ruler is dangerous because it can disarm essential mistrust. As often, Anthony de Jasay found the way to put a related but more general problem in a few unforgettable words:

Self-imposed limits on sovereign power can disarm mistrust, but provide no guarantee of liberty and property beyond those afforded by the balance between state and private force.

This suggests many other questions. Stay tuned.


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Is Amazon a Corporate Mother Teresa?

Amazon is in many ways a fascinating company and deserves to be defended against most of its mainstream critics. However, it would be simplistic to explain its campaign for a $15 federally-imposed minimum wage by identifying it with a corporate Mother Teresa. Its more obvious reasons to preach for minimum wages are not defendable.

I will not repeat all the arguments against the minimum wage, summarized in a good article by Cato Institute’s Ryan Bourne (“The Case Against a $15 Federal Minimum Wage: Q&A”). My co-blogger David Henderson has also defended many of the standard economic arguments. There exist some disagreements among economists about the employment effect of minimum wages, but they mainly relate to the size and victims of the negative effect (see Bourne’s overview).

One thing is sure: Amazon would benefit from forcing higher costs on its small competitors, including mom-and-pop businesses. A higher minimum wage would have exactly this effect while it would have zero effect on Amazon’s costs. As the company already pays a starting wage equal to the proposed $15 minimum, the latter would be non-binding and irrelevant for the retail behemoth.

One reason why Amazon was able to bid up the wage of its entry-level workforce is that its technology and other capital embedded in its warehouses and distribution network increase the productivity of its employees, which justifies the bidding up from a pure profit-maximizing viewpoint. There is nothing wrong with profits, but there is something wrong wtith using state power to bankrupt one’s competitors. This is what is happening. Jonathan Meer, an economist at A&M University observes:

It’s a lot harder for Joe’s Hardware. We should take note that Amazon—the place with no cashiers—is the one calling for a higher minimum wage.

Other large companies—such as Walmart—have come out in favor of an increase in the federal minimum but not up to $15. In their case, indeed, $15 would be binding for some employees. (Cf. Eric Morath and Heather Haddon, “Many Businesses Support a Minimum-Wage Increase—Just Not Biden’s $15-an-Hour Plan,” Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2021)

Amazon has another reason to be politically correct, that is, to signal its virtue under current faddish and unrealistic ideas. The company can hope to cajole DC’s powerful men to spare it from some regulation that would bite. The systemic effects of such behavior point to crony capitalism and groveling toward the state, which are not good for free enterprise and future prosperity.

It is not clear, to say the least, what kind of acceptable ethics could justify Amazon’s current behavior.


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The Game of Telephone: The Knowledge Problem in Regulation

Why do economists who accept a theory oppose putting it into practice?  For example, I believe global warming is a rather significant problem.  I agree that it is internally consistent that carbon taxes (or some other variation like cap & trade) can reduce carbon emissions to a socially optimal level.  So, why then do I oppose carbon tax regulation?

There are many reasons why I (and many other GMU-style economists) oppose regulation even though a logical argument can be made, it could improve a given situation.  We tend to focus on public choice reasons (such as rent-seeking and agency capture).  The knowledge problem, most famously discussed by F.A. Hayek, is also often cited: government agents can too seldom possess all information and knowledge necessary to regulate desirably and much less “optimally.”

There is an element of the knowledge problem that warrants further attention, an element highlighted by Don Lavoie in his 1985 book National Economic Planning: What is Left? In this book, Lavoie greatly expands our understanding of the knowledge problem and its relevance for assessing central planning and more mundane government regulation.  He discusses Hayek’s formulation of knowledge as mostly tacit, but Lavoie also emphasizes that knowledge is built upon inarticulable foundations.  Attempts to articulate the inarticulate foundations are doomed to fail as each person carries with him or her different nuanced understandings of the language used in legislation authorizing regulations.

Consider, for example, the phrase “2+2=4.”  Understanding the phrase’s meaning requires a tacit, inarticulable understanding of the elements: 2, +, =, and 4.  If one were to try to rigorously define every element in that phrase, he would eventually fall into a problem of recursivity.  As children, when we first encounter mathematics, it may seem weird and arbitrary.  We just learn that 2+2=4 by rote.  It is only through repeated interactions with mathematics do we start to understand it.  To paraphrase the great mathematician John von Neumann, you never really learn mathematics.  You just get used to it.

The problem of inarticulable understandings of knowledge comes into play in the field of regulation.  The economist has a foundation of knowledge.  When he tries to convert that knowledge into policy, we run into a game of telephone.  At each step along the way, the knowledge and information get a little distorted. Each person has different foundations from which they understand the message the economist is delivering.  As such, the end policy would deviate considerably from theory, even if we assume away public choice issues.  In other words, the policy will look considerably different from the theory because of a sort-of language barrier.

Consider, for example, the word “cost” in economics.  We define “cost” to mean what one gives up to take a particular action (it is sometimes called “opportunity cost” for this reason).  Cost is inseparable from choice.  Yet, “cost” takes on a very different meaning for the general public, as it usually refers to a negative consequence (“the cost of reading is a headache”) or the monetary price of something (“the coffee cost me $2”).  Thus, the economist already faces a problem communicating his theory to policymakers.  But even within the field of economics, “cost” has different understandings.  James Buchanan’s excellent short 1969 book, Cost and Choice, discusses how “cost” has changed understandings among the various schools of thought.

I oppose regulation even when I understand the argument because argument and policy are not the same things.  When communicating, experts run into the telephone problem: the theory is misunderstood, misapplied, or miscommunicated.  Competition among experts helps solve these problems, yes, as experts become incentivized to be less wizardly and more like teachers.  But the knowledge problem remains, and regulation can only enhance the communication problems.


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Will Joe Biden Be a Dictator?

This might look like a ridiculous question to ask about a soft-looking near-octogenarian who signals his virtue by repeating the inclusiveness mantra. But not so much if you define “dictator” as a political ruler who imposes on the whole population some shared preferences of the minority who brought him or keeps him in power. A more inclusive definition would replace “minority” by “majority short of unanimity.”

Biden was elected by 51% of the American voters. If, to be inclusive indeed, we include the third of the electorate (that is, of Americans eligible to vote) who did not vote, Mr. Biden’s support shrinks to 34% (51% × 66%). Now, consider that many who voted for him probably did so only or mainly because they thought that his adversary, Donald Trump, was even worse—not an unrealistic hypothesis. If Biden imposes the preferences of 17% of the electorate to 83%, or even of 34% on 66%, he will be a dictator. (Note that my definition of the term is not very different from the one in Kenneth Arrow’s famous Impossibility Theorem.)

An interesting article that bears on this topic is John G. Grove’s “Numerical Democracy or Constitutional Reality,” Law & Liberty (our sister website), November 12, 2020. Grove argues that the United States is a limited, compound republic, not a numerical democracy, and that the whole check and balance structure is meant to prevent a numerical majority from bulldozing the preferences of the rest. In this perspective, each side has a right to have its preferences incorporated in the winner’s legislation and an adverse electoral result is not, for the losers, a catastrophe to be corrected at any cost.

By the very nature of government, however, it is not easy to prevent winner-win-all results: a law is enforced against everybody, especially against individuals who did not agree with it. It seems that, on the basis of an individualist philosophy, only a near-universal consensus could justify radical change.

One disturbing implication is the following. Grove’s idea is a two-edged sword. When we start from several decades of a collectivist legislative and regulatory drift that has trammeled the minority of individuals who want to be largely left alone, even a new numerical majority may not and could not rapidly change course. Ronald Reagan, with his many good ideas (and a number of bad ones) did not bring much change and perhaps no lasting change. But for the same reason, thank God, Trump was not able to do more damage than he did.

James Buchanan, the Nobel economist, understood the conundrum: How can one reverse dictatorship without being a dictator himself? The solution, Buchanan argues with Geoffrey Brennan in their book The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy (Liberty Fund, 2000[1985]), is a “constitutional revolution.” That is, we—“we” classical liberals and libertarians—need to promote radical change to which our fellow citizens can unanimously consent, at least in theory. This pedagogical and abstract task is not an easy one.


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Margins and the 2020 Presidential Election

The Power of Thinking on the Margin

Because I understand the power of one vote–it’s very close to zero–I always vote in Presidential elections for the candidate who’s closest to my views. The first time I was able to vote in a Presidential election was in 1988 and from then until now I have voted for the Libertarian Party candidate.

That’s where thinking on the margin has led me.

But Presidential candidates have a much thicker margin. They make hundreds of decisions–about where to speak, how to debate, and what to say. When they are incumbents, they have a large input on many policy issues that can affect the outcome of the election.

Health economist (and friend) John C. Goodman sent me an email Monday with the provocative title “Why Trump lost the Election: Health Care.”

In it, he writes:

The editors of the Wall Street Journal, the editor of National Review (Rich Lowry) and John Goodman all agree: Trump didn’t endorse the plan outlined by Goodman and Heritage Foundation scholar, Marie Fishpaw.


Trump actually did the things Goodman and Fishpaw recommended, including allowing people to talk to their doctors by phone, email, and Skype; allowing employees to have access to 24/7 primary care as an alternative to the emergency room; and allowing employer-provided health insurance to be personal and portable. But Trump never talked about any of this. So, he didn’t get credit for any of it.


I think John is right. But one could also say that if he hadn’t been so incredibly rude and nasty in the first debate, he would have won also. (Although we now know in retrospect that Trump was probably awfully sick with COVID-19 during that first debate. When you’re sick, you tend to let out your inner self. And Trump’s inner self is nasty.)

Consider the fact that if Trump had received just 43,000 more votes, properly distributed, in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, he would have won the electoral votes of those three states. That’s a total of 37 electoral votes. Had Trump won those, he would have had 269 to Biden’s, wait for it, 269.

What would have happened then? It would have been thrown into the House of Representatives where each state delegation gets one vote. So California gets one vote and Rhode Island and Montana each get one vote. Etc. The vote is based on the November 2020 election results. Based on those results, Republicans had 26 votes. In that case, Trump would have won.

Interestingly, though, he might have had Kamala Harris as his Veep because the vote for Veep would have been by U.S. Senators. This is unclear, though, because the Senate is tied 50-50. Does anyone who reads this know?

Now back to the main point: Trump’s thick margin. As Holman Jenkins pointed out in an aptly titled Wall Street Journal opinion piece, “Trump Threw it Away,” January 6, 2020, Trump almost won. Jenkins wrote:

Of course the microscopic margin rankles—he lost the pivotal electoral votes of Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin by fewer than 43,000 votes. He has every reason to be beside himself since he absurdly oversupplied these voters with reasons to vote against him and he still almost won.

Imagine a team so bad and good at the same time that it would have prevailed if it had fumbled the ball 1% fewer times in its own endzone.

Imagine what would have happened if Trump had been neutral, not nice but simply neutral, to the memory of John McCain. He probably would have won Arizona. (Of course, that’s like asking what would have happened if Trump hadn’t been Trump.) What if he had pointed out the record growth in median incomes for various minority groups? He might have won Georgia. What if had actually run a campaign based on his accomplishments up to the end of 2019? He might have won Wisconsin. Etc.

So although we voters can’t individually affect the outcome, candidates can influence the outcome with a few key decisions.


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A Shocking USPS Admission

USPS: We Don’t Care; We Don’t Have To

Last Monday, January 11, I mailed off my estimated tax payments to California’s state government (an agency called the Franchise Tax Board) and the federal government (IRS). Both, but especially the check to the IRS, were for large amounts.

At about 10 a.m., I put them in a mail box close to my office in downtown Monterey. The sticker on the box says that pick up is at 12 noon.

At about 2:20 p.m. I received a call from a man at a nearby men’s club. He explained that he had received my letter to the Franchise Tax Board in that day’s mail. He had used my return address to track down my phone number. I thanked him profusely, rushed over to the club, and picked up the letter. My concern, of course, was about what happened to the check to the IRS. Was it badly misplaced also? And if it was, would the person who received it be as responsible and as resourceful as this nice man?

I walked from there to the downtown post office. When it was my turn, the woman I talked to said she would get the postmaster. I waited about 10 minutes until he came to the front. I started to explain the situation. My first surprise was that he told me that the mail from that box hadn’t been picked up yet. I was surprised because I was showing him the letter that I had put in that box. How did he think I got it? When I finally got him to listen and understand, I told him my bigger concern: was the IRS check similarly misplaced?

He answered that he didn’t know and couldn’t know at this point. Then he told me a shocking number. He said that the postal service loses about 2 percent of the mail. Even though I had my mask on, I think he saw my eyes widen.

“Two percent?” I said, “that’s terrible.”

“No, it’s not,” he answered. “We have billions of pieces per day.” (I think he overestimated by at least an order of magnitude, but that doesn’t matter for these purposes.)

“Two percent is a large number,” I answered. “FedEx doesn’t lose 2 percent of its shipments.”

“You can’t mail something with FedEx,” he said.

“Yes, you can,” I replied, “You can put a letter in a FedEx envelope.”

“Then use FedEx,” he answered.

“Meanwhile,” I said, “I’ve got this problem that I did use USPS and I want to make sure my check to the IRS will be delivered.”

“We can’t cross that bridge until we come to it,” he said.

I didn’t understand what that meant in this context, so I asked, “What’s that bridge look like? How would you know we’ve come to it?”

“We would know when the IRS contacts you and says they didn’t get the check.”

“I’m pretty sure they don’t get in touch when that happens,” I replied. “I won’t know until April when I file my taxes and they tell me I owe a big amount rather than sending me my usual small refund. They would also charge me interest and a penalty.”

“So that’s how we would know,” he said.

(I’ve since realized that if I don’t see that the check has cleared by, say, January 22, then it was lost. It’s not clear what I would do. Would I call the IRS? Good luck with that. Would I put a stop payment on the check and send another one? I’m nervous about putting a stop payment on a check to the IRS.)

One of the interesting things about the interaction, which shouldn’t have been surprising, is how little this guy seemed to care and how blasé he was about a 2% loss in mail.

As I say, though, incentives matter. And the USPS’s incentive to deliver all the mail is very low.


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Ralph K. Winter Jr. RIP

Catching up on Wall Street Journals from December today, I came across an obit of federal judge Ralph K. Winter. I never met the man although I gather that a number of my friends have. But it’s amazing how one quote can stick out in your memory from over 40 years ago. I remembered that quote and found the publication it was in.

Winter wrote “Campaign Financing and Political Freedom” for the American Enterprise Institute in October 1973. I think I was on the mailing list for their domestic policy publications. (I think my marked up copy disappeared in my fire.)  One reason those pubs were really good is that Yale Brozen, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, had a real academic entrepreneurial eye for a good study and had a large role in choosing authors and topics. (Incidentally it was written with John R. Bolton, who became famous for his hawkish foreign policy views.)

I remembered that Winter had made a strong cogent case against the campaign finance laws that were about to happen and I found it persuasive.

Here’s the part I remembered clearly and still love:

Candidates seem never to lose because the public is indifferent to them or to their platforms; they seem to lose because they cannot raise enough money. Tom Wicker tells us that Fred Harris and Paul McC!oskey saw their campaigns founder “for want of means to wage a primary campaign,”” a state­ ment that is true in the same sense that if a mayoral candidate in New York City were exposed as Martin Bormann, his withdrawal statement would mention only difficulties in raising campaign funds.



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