Submitted by James Miller, chief blogger at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada
SS Agents and Prostitutes- Another Case of the Worst Rising to the Top
Austrian economist F.A. Hayek’s most famous work, The Road to Serfdom, is renowned for identifying two general rules in regards to politics and the state. As the title of the book suggests, Hayek was keenly aware of the massive centralization of power taking place during the World War II era as Keynesianism took off and planned economies seemed like the next, natural step in the art of governing. He correctly warned that economic intervention begets further intervention which would eventually lead to totalitarianism.
To reinforce this claim, Hayek explained a truth which haunts all those vying for public office. Because the state, by definition, acts as a monopoly of force and predation, those who seek to brandish its authority don’t always have the most charitable intentions in mind as they clearly prefer an occupation of violence over harmonious enterprise in the private sector. As Hayek writes:
Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule.
While Hayek wrote on the mindset one needs to be successful in implementing the state’s various decrees, this type of behavior often spills over into otherwise unrelated government activities. Such delinquency is fostered by the fact that those who operate within the public sector have little regard for the money and privileges designated to them as it is paid for on the backs of taxpayers and not from their own personal funds. One of these embarrassing (for the ruling class, not those forced to support them) moments came to pass recently in Colombia as a few Secret Service personnel, tasked with preparing a summit venue for a visit by President Obama, were caught both soliciting high end call girls and stiffing them after the deed was done. From the National Post:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service said Wednesday that three employees will leave their jobs over the sex scandal in a hotel in Colombia which tarnished the elite presidential protection agency’s image.
A total of 11 agents and at least 10 military personnel are being investigated over the incident, which reportedly came to light when a prostitute got into a dispute over payment with one of the agents.
The New York Times on Wednesday carried an interview with one of the prostitutes, who said that the affair came to light after an agent offered her $30 for sex after earlier agreeing to pay $750.
By virtue of being a gang of thugs in charge of watching out for one of the biggest bullies in the world, the Secret Service’s reputation has long since been tarnished. There is something to be said when the leader of a supposedly free and friendly country must employ brutes to shakedown visiting tourists at his “place of residence” and designate areas as “non free speech” zones on whim.
Rather than a small security force, the Secret Service has evolved, like all executive government agencies inevitably do, into something far more sinister. Not only can it unilaterally revoke the protection of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, but it has proven to be staffed with those inept and feeling entitled enough to waste the public’s dime on seedy shenanigans.
Hayek, while a brilliant mind, was not right on everything. He saw the welfare state is legitimate, a need for regulation into private industries such as education and food, and the necessity of the state in providing for individual and national defense. Yet even he was able to distinguish how political power attracts those who will use in the worst manner.
The Secret Service agents who procured prostitutes may be relieved of their duty but it will only serve as a cautionary tale for the rest to keep their off-duty exploits better concealed in the future. The waste and graft will go on despite a pledge from Obama for a “rigorous” probe and his potential successor’s promise to “clean house.” These promises are just political theater used to conceal the playground like mentality which possesses the attitudes of all those who wield the guns of the state.