Charles Murray: Corruption is baked into an unstoppable political system where government sells an endless array of valuable favors to the private sector

Last Monday (January 8), AEI scholar, political scientist, author, and libertarian Charles Murray celebrated his 75th birthday and his transition to scholar emeritus status at AEI. To mark the occasion, Dr. Murray delivered a lecture “Right Questions and Wrong Answers” that offered a retrospective of his career. You can watch Charles Murray’s lecture above and a transcript is available here. At about the 46:00 mark in the video, Charles Murray talks about how while researching his 2015 book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission he realized that the “legal system was far worse” than he had imagined. “The levels of complexity, subjectivity, prosecutorial discretion was shocking.” Here’s more:

We have a terrible problem of de facto lawlessness. The regulatory state is far worse than I had realized. It is indeed, an extralegal state within the state that in effect passes its own laws, enforces them with its own police, and then acts as jury, judge and appeals court all completely within the powers given to it by Congress.

The level of corruption in Washington is far worse than I thought, but qualitatively and quantitatively, more appalling than the situation prior to the mid-1970s. Moreover, in the years after Republicans won Congress in 1994, I had to accept that the hypocrisy and corruption among Republicans once they controlled Congress matched the worst that the Democrats had done during their decades    of control.

Worst of all, I had to recognize that the underlying dynamics of the corruption were systemic. More principled congressional leaders weren’t going to fix them. I actually think we’ve had some quite principled leaders from time to time and they’ve made no progress whatsoever. The corruption is baked into a system in which the government has an endless array of valuable favors to sell to the private sector. That market is vibrant and vital and unstoppable.

Best of luck to Charles Murray as he pursues the next chapter of his life as “scholar emeritus” at AEI!