November 17, 2021
By Timothy Sandefur
Last week I was honored to give the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Western Growers Association in San Diego. The Growers asked me to discuss the regulatory burdens on agriculture in California and other western states, but I wanted to put the challenge in a broader cultural and philosophical perspective. Here’s an excerpt:
“The most important thing you can possibly know about government…is this: Government gets paid even when it gets the answer wrong.
“If I go to Taco Bell and order a burrito and they don’t give me what I want, I can go to Del Taco instead. I don’t buy from Taco Bell anymore, and they don’t get paid. But if a government agency gets my order wrong—nothing happens. They don’t get fired, they don’t get their budgets cut. If anything, they get more money, because they tell politicians that the reason they got the answer wrong was because their budgets are too small.
“And if government gets paid even if it gets the answer wrong, why in the world would you trust it to get the answer right?
“This sounds like typical complaining about big government—and I suppose it is that. But it connects with what I said earlier about the virtues of productivity. As I said, productivity does not just happen. It is the consequence of individual choices, and specifically, moral choices by people who every day face the decision of whether to go to work or not—whether to find a solution to the problem or quit—whether to pay their bills or screw their creditors—whether to find a way, or blame somebody else—whether to create wealth, or whether to live on the wealth that others create.”
Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.