One day someone may offer to fulfill your wishes and dreams. The question is, are they an honest dealer, or are they concealing the cost of their help and the size of the benefits they can actually provide?
This Wish Seller may be a car salesmen, but the Wish Seller that’s most dangerous is the politician seeking power. Voting, for better or worse, does not work on a “cash on delivery” system. You vote now for the guy who promises to fulfill your wishes in the future, whether by passing a law you desire or raising a tax that will be spent for your benefit.
In comments to my previous post, AG asks if people who are angry at institutions that fail to delivery “the goods” will moderate their expectations over time, or if people will continue to expect governments to deliver the impossible (leading to cycles of instability).
Now we are getting into pure conjecture, but I think two things will happen.
Firstly, the violent revolutions will eventually stop. The institutions and forms of governance that are necessary to meet basic needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy are well known, globally. Only pockets of ideological resistance (such as Bolivarian Venezuela or among the crazier Islamnic cults like Boko Haram) remain (a.k.a., the “End of History” has arrived). The nations which have not caught up to the developed world (like Peru) have done so due to lazy cronies being in power, not out of ignorance of the benefits of property rights and rule of law (as Hernando de Soto proves). Eventually, enough revolutions will see all the bad actors out of power and replaced. This may take three, four or more revolutions in some of the harder case countries, but I’m fairly confident that the digital egalitarian society will keep working this problem until it’s solved.
Secondly, there’s a difference between the people who want things that can be delivered (e.g., low taxes and a tolerable administration of justice) verses people who want things that cannot be delivered (e.g., large scale socialism or government benefits that exceed the tax base). Category 1 people will eventually get what they want, and Category 2 people will eventually learn, however hard a case they are, and thus cycles of instability will eventually peter out in both cases.
Why am I confident about Category 2 eventually learning? The reason is that it’s just impossible for a Walter Duranty to exist in today’s world. Any bald-faced lie in the news is quickly debunked, and the reasons why are at least available for those willing to hear. Only systems of near-total media control (as practiced in modern China and North Korea) can produce false information faster than the digitally-egalitarian public can produce and process truth. And on a long enough time scale, I don’t see Chinese or Korean-style regimes of control lasting forever, if only because nothing lasts forever and once they collapse it’s really hard to put them back in place.
The above means that the record of success and failure will be plainly available for all to read. There will always be holdouts who, for emotional reasons, refuse to see the truth about one thing or another, but I expect that democratic majorities of people will prove open enough and morally flexible enough to judge the facts for themselves and vote accordingly. (And if you don’t believe me, you’re far too cynical. The view of the voting public obviously changes over time. Almost no one self-identifies as a Communist anymore, and just look how quickly the world has moved on acceptance of Gays. Change happens)
And hopefully, when that Wish Seller next comes along, the voting majority will know the correct response: