Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and New York Times Bestselling author of Open Borders, The Myth of the Rational Voter, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, and The Case Against Education, blogged for EconLog from 2005-2022. How Evil Are Politicians? collects the very best of his EconLog essays on the vicious use of political authority.

How Evil Are Politicians? explores how leaders manipulate voters to amass power. Above all, successful demagogues appeal to Social Desirability Bias - crowd-pleasing absurdities like, "Victory at any price," "If it saves one life," and "Every American deserves the best." Democrats and dictators, left and right: they all rely on absurd lies - and they all neglect the Spiderman principle that, "With great power comes great responsibility."

This is clearest in wartime. Leveraging the moral precept that one should not kill innocents unless you know the gains far exceed the costs, Caplan argues that modern warfare is morally impermissible - and war-making politicians are villains. This "pragmatic pacifism" is perhaps Caplan's most controversial view, but how is he wrong?

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  • Print Length: 198 Pages
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