Un mai vechi dar valoros articol de Robert Higgs:
Not long after the democratic dogma had gained a firm foothold, organized coalitions emerged from the mass electorate and joined the elites in looting the public treasury, and, as a consequence, in the late nineteenth century the so-called welfare state began to take shape. From that time forward, people were told that the government can and should protect them from all sorts of workaday threats to their lives, livelihoods, and overall well-being—threats of destitution, hunger, disability, unemployment, illness, lack of income in old age, germs in the water, toxins in the food, and insults to their race, sex, ancestry, creed, and so forth. Nearly everything that the people feared, the government then stood poised to ward off. Thus did the welfare state anchor its rationale in the solid rock of fear. Governments, having exploited popular fears of violence so successfully from time immemorial (promising “national security”), had no difficulty in cementing these new stones (promising “social security”) into their foundations of rule.
Even absolute monarchs can get bored. The exercise of great power may become tedious and burdensome—underlings are always disturbing your serenity with questions about details; victims are always appealing for clemency, pardons, or exemptions from your rules. In wartime, however, rulers come alive. Nothing equals war as an opportunity for greatness and public acclaim, as all such leaders understand (Higgs 1997). Condemned to spend their time in high office during peacetime, they are necessarily condemned to go down in history as mediocrities at best.
Upon the outbreak of war, however, the exhilaration of the hour spreads through the entire governing apparatus. Army officers who had languished for years at the rank of captain may now anticipate becoming colonels. Bureau heads who had supervised a hundred subordinates with a budget of $1 million may look forward to overseeing a thousand with a budget of $20 million. Powerful new control agencies must be created and staffed. New facilities must be built, furnished, and operated. Politicians who had found themselves frozen in partisan gridlock can now expect that the torrent of money gushing from the public treasury will grease the wheels for putting together humongous legislative deals undreamt of in the past. Everywhere the government turns its gaze, the scene is flush with energy, power, and money. For those whose hands direct the machinery of a government at war, life has never been better.