The Bureaucrat As A Voter–Mises

The bureaucrat is not only a government employee. He
is, under a democratic constitution, at the same time a voter
and as such a part of the sovereign, his employer. He is in
a peculiar position: he is both employer and employee. And
his pecuniary interest as employee towers above his interest
as employer, as he gets much more from the public funds
than he contributes to them.

This double relationship becomes more important as the
people on the government’s pay roll increase. The bureaucrat
as voter is more eager to get a raise than to keep the
budget balanced. His main concern is to swell the pay roll.
The political structure of Germany and France, in the
last years preceding the fall of their democratic constitutions,
was to a very great extent influenced by the fact that
for a considerable part of the electorate the state was the
source of income. There were not only the hosts of public
employees, and those employed in the nationalized
branches of business (e.g., railroad, post, telegraph, and
telephone), there were the receivers of the unemployment
dole and of social security benefits, as well as the farmers
and some other groups which the government directly or
indirectly subsidized. Their main concern was to get more
out of the public funds. They did not care for “ideal” issues
like liberty, justice, the supremacy of the law, and good
government. They asked for more money, that was all. No
candidate for parliament, provincial diets, or town councils
could risk opposing the appetite of the public employees for
a raise. The various political parties were eager to outdo
one another in munificence.

In the nineteenth century the parliaments were intent
on restricting public expenditures as much as possible. But
now thrift became despicable. Boundless spending was considered
a wise policy. Both the party in power and the opposition
strove for popularity by openhandedness. To create
new offices with new employees was called a “positive”
policy, and every attempt to prevent squandering public
funds was disparaged as “negativism.”
Representative democracy cannot subsist if a great part
of the voters are on the government pay roll. If the members
of parliament no longer consider themselves mandatories
of the taxpayers but deputies of those receiving salaries,
wages, subsidies, doles, and other benefits from the
treasury, democracy is done for.
This is one of the antinomies inherent in present-day
constitutional issues. It has made many people despair of
the future of democracy. As they became convinced that
the trend toward more government interference with business,
toward more offices with more employees, toward
more doles and subsidies is inevitable, they could not help
losing confidence in government by the people.

Bureaucracy, pp 80-81, Ludwig von Mises

Book: Bureaucracy, by Ludwig von Mises