The Political Circus and the Court

Richard M. Ebeling 

Wilhelm Röpke on the Psychology of Political Dependency

But this is indicative of the political ideology and psychology of our time. The psychology of the modern welfare state, about which all these political plans and promises necessarily revolve, was explained by German liberal economist, Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966) in A Humane Economy (1957):

The morally edifying character of a policy which robs Peter in order to pay Paul cannot be said to be immediately obvious. But it degenerates into an absurd two-way pumping of money when the state robs nearly everybody and pays nearly everybody, so that no one knows in the end whether he has gained or lost in the game . . .

“It is true, of course, that people do not always realize that when they turn to the state for the fulfillment of their wishes that their claims can be satisfied only at the expense of others. We have met the underlying sophism before. It rests on the habit of regarding the state as a kind of fourth dimension, without stopping to think that its till has to be filled by the taxpayers as a whole. A money claim on the state is always an indirect claim on somebody else . . . it is a mere transfer of purchasing power through the medium of the state and its compulsory powers. It is astonishing for how long this natural and simple fact can be obscured by the modern welfare state.” (p. 165)”