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Big Government and Bribes: Where is the connection?

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I have frequently argued with my non-objectivist, collectivist colleagues, that the larger the power you give a government over matters that are not their proper responsibility, the worse the culture of bribes get.

If you need to ask the government permission to act (say, to open a business, to get a license, to build a house, to get a certificate, etc) the likelihood of dealing with bureaucrats who ask you for money will increase substantially.

By the same token, if you don't need to ask bureaucrats permissions to live and excercise your rights, bribes will be minimal.

The whole issue makes minimal government appealing, specially in a country like my country, where bribing is so widespread.

But then, when thinking about this, I realize I might be thinking as a determinist.

My argument seems to go in this direction: "The larger the chance to cheat and get away with it, the worse the person will behave".

In other words, persons are cheaters awaiting their chance to cheat.

Free will seems to have little to do here. Given a certain array of circumstances, bureaucrats will act as a thieves.

This is certainly in contradiction with Objectivist view of man.

On the other hand, suppose the argument goes in this direction "It is not circumstances which creat thieves out of good people. Thieves and cheaters exist in equal proportion in a big government or in a minimal government. What happens is that in the big government, already existing cheaters would have more chances to excercise their cheating skills".

If that is the argument, then we could conclude that police would accept as many bribes in a free country as in a totalitarian country. If the proportion of cheaters is the more or less the same within any given group of policemen, it is irrelevant whether the goverment restricts itself to its proper functions or not.

What is wrong in my position about relating minimal government with minimal bribes?

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Government officials by the very nature of statism are in charge of collecting and distribution of other people's wealth. Money for them has no owner, belongs to everybody. If so, why not to themselves? They also distribute government favors in accordance to the rule of thumb or political pressure of different gangs. If this is a legitimate process, why not to do it for a small fee? Statist government is inherently corrupt . Only corrupt people aspire for a job with such a government.

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Government officials by the very nature of statism are in charge of collecting and distribution ...

Statist government is inherently corrupt . Only corrupt people aspire for a job with such a government.

That's a good response to Hotu's concerns that corruption could be as present (although less so) in

minimal govt, as in a totalitarian one. With the former, the concept of ownership - it's not yours, hands off! -

would be well-entrenched. And only honest people would seek the jobs.

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Thank you very much, Reide. I think you're right.

At an individual level, the standard argument it is not determinist.

It looks as if it were determinist when we examine the group of people as a whole and for a longer period of time.

If group A has much more incentives to be dishonest than group B, then group A will very likely behave worse than group B.

This statement only reflects the effect of accumulated number of immoral decisions, and not any determinism at each individual decision.

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