”A Man Sees What He Wants to See . . .

May 2, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

. . . and disregards the rest. “ (Paul Simon)

If you believe that government welfare programs are the road to serfdom, then whenever you see them, you look down that lonely road and see (what else?) serfdom, regardless of what’s really there.

Brad DeLong unearthed an interview that Friedrich Hayek did with Reason magazine in 1977.
Reason: If big government is really the culprit, why do Sweden and many Scandinavian welfare states seem to be prospering? . . . Sweden is reasonably successful.

Hayek: Yes. But there is perhaps more social discontent in Sweden than in almost any other country I have been. The standard feeling that life is really not worth living is very strong in Sweden. Although they can hardly conceive of things being different than what they're used to, I think the doubt about their past doctrines is quite strong.

This seems to be a case of ideology guiding perception. I guess Stockholm’s a lonely town when you’re the only serf (er, boy) around. Or maybe he’d just seen a lot of Bergman movies.

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