The purpose of government, according to the Declaration of Independence, is to secure the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Actual government agencies, however, are often destructive of these ends. Public choice economics shows that government officials are just as self-interested as anyone else, that their work in the public sector tends to benefit themselves and bolster their institutional power at the expense of ordinary citizens — and people have noticed. A recent nationwide survey from ScottRasmussen.com reveals that 60 percent of voters believe the federal government primarily looks out for its own interests.
Only 27 percent of people in the same survey expressed belief that the federal government primarily serves the interests of the American people, and only one in six people trust federal officials “to do the right thing most of the time.” It has been 47 years since a majority of Americans trusted the federal government.
“Trust in government is at a breathtakingly low level, and there’s a good reason for that,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “Every day, it’s easy to see the waste, fraud, abuse, and persecution of peaceful people that permeates nearly every corner of government. Unjust wars, sky-high spending and taxes, consensual crime laws that imprison people who have harmed nobody, persecution of minority communities and immigrants, crony capitalist bailouts and favoritism, micromanaging regulation that chokes off small businesses and economic growth, a dysfunctional health care system, failing public schools — and that’s just the beginning of a much longer list.”
In the early 20th century, mainstream economists treated public officials as though they were somehow extraordinary exceptions to the rules of self-interest that apply to everyone else. The private sector was obviously selfish and greedy, and the public sector was there to keep it in check. The public choice school, pioneered by Nobel laureate economist James Buchanan and several others, turned this conventional wisdom on its head. Being elected or appointed to office doesn’t magically confer special powers of selflessness. The insights of public choice economics explain the behavior that we actually see in the public sector — a culture in which politicians and bureaucrats tend to inflate their budgets and expand their power at every turn.
“It’s easy for anybody to be tempted by the power of government, so doing the right thing in office requires a commitment to the principles of liberty,” Sarwark said. “That’s why it’s so important to vote for Libertarian Party candidates. We’re the only political party that takes freedom seriously. Individual rights are the foundation of every plank of our platform. If we want to see a government that truly secures our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we can’t get there with the same business as usual from Republicans and Democrats. Only the Libertarian Party places individual liberty at the forefront of all public policy.”