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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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World Improvers

The trouble with the big wide world is that it is never quite good enough for some people. They keep trying to improve it. No harm in that; you should always try to make your world a better place. Wink at a homely girl, perhaps, or curse a bad driver. But the world improvers are rarely content with private acts of kindness. Instead, they want gas chambers and Social Security—vast changes almost always brought about at the point of a gun. Thus it was that central banks were set up and given the power to control what doesn't belong to them—your money. Thus it came to be that we got regularly felt up by strangers at airports—and thought it normal.

Today's newspapers ooze world improvements. A single day's issue of the New York Times—an especially earnest journal—brings forth a plague of them. On the editorial page one day is “A Proposal to End Poverty.” The proposal is made by world‐class world improver, Jeffrey Sachs, who urges rich nations to rob their own citizens so that the money might be turned over to poor nations.8

While the New York Times merely dreams of ending poverty, our favorite columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, joins our president in wanting to “rid the world of evildoers.” We are not making this up; this was George W. Bush's own line. Bush, Tony Blair, and Friedman are hoping that the forced conversion of the Iraqis—to democracy—will squeeze out a little more evil from the planet.9

When it comes to resisting the temptations of world improvement, married ...

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