Tonight on Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal interviewed a handful of newly-elected and reelected mayors about their plans and priorities. Greg Stanton, the new mayor-elect of Phoenix, gave a surprisingly honest description of his aim:
In Phoenix, we really need to be working with local entrepreneurs, with local business — we need to be working with the federal government as well — to make sure that Phoenix and Arizona get more than our fair share of the jobs program that has been introduced through Congress.
Note that the Mayor-elect doesn’t want his fair share. He wants more than his fair share. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip? I suppose we can’t blame him. He is only responding to his incentives. Though they may not be as open about as Mr. Stanton, the unfortunate reality is that when the national government is doling out money to local governments, every other mayor in the country faces the same incentive.
As Bastiat put it some 150 years ago: “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”