While reading Hayek’s famed “Choice in Currency” essay this weekend, I stumbled across a passage that was, to me, particularly insightful. Hayek discusses the negative impact that group interests play within democratic governance. Spending my time at the Nevada Legislature, I see this play out every day just as Hayek notes:
I must confess that in the course of a long life my opinion of governments has steadily worsened: the more intelligently they try to act (as distinguished from simply following an established rule ), the more harm they seem to do-because once they are known to aim at particular goals (rather than merely maintaining a self correcting spontaneous order) the less they can avoid serving sectional interests. And the demands of all organised group interests are almost invariably harmful-except only when they protest against restrictions imposed upon them for the benefit of other group interests. I am by no means re-assured by the fact that, at least in some countries, the civil servants who run affairs are mostly intelligent, well-meaning, and honest men. The point is that, if governments are to remain in office in the prevailing political order, they have no choice but to use their powers for the benefit of particular groups.