Poor altruistic statocrats who have so little power!

A story this morning The Wall Street Journal “Russia” (ie Putin’s Russian state) followed the EU government’s move to cut gas supplies to European customers. The article contains some confusing statements and some sound points from a narrow economic perspective, but that’s not what I want to focus on. (See my more mainstream post from yesterday on the same topic.) Instead I consider it a general result of economic analysis of politics.

The WSJ wrote (“Europe agrees to cut gas use as Russia squeezes supplies,” July 26):

“Governments have not done a good job of preparing the public for such demand-saving measures,” said Argus Media analyst Natasha Fielding.

I wonder where Mrs. Fielding lives or what she has read about the last century or century and a half—and longer if we are to approach Alexis de Tocqueville’s predictions of the soft tyranny of future democratic regimes. Governments have done what they can without overt violence and often with sanctimonious overt violence to get used to being dependent, trusting and addicted to their political and bureaucratic masters. “Citizens” often tell pollsters that they distrust the current government in power, but they see the state as a god and as it will be, and when the democratic crowd or democratic strongmen support their own views and interests. The failure to see how free-market prices could alleviate the increased shortages in the gas market is just one example among millions.

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