Yuri Maltsev on the Purpose of Government

I’ve received quite a few emails in response to my eulogy for Yuri Maltsev published on the weekend edition of LRC from people who either knew Yuri, heard him speak at a conference, or watched him on YouTube.   My favorite so far is from B.G., who describes himself as a “Ron Paulian libertarian” who left the “Republican fascist party” years ago.  He met Yuri in 1989 at Mises University at Stanford, which I think I probably participated in.  He asked Yuri about the differences between the USSR and the USA.  “You Americans are kind,” Yuri told him.  “When we heard there were bananas available at a store,” B.G. recalls Yuri telling him, “a long line would form and 4 or 5 big men would push their way to the front of the line and buy everything.”  The lesson B.G. learned from this that, thanks to our higher degree of economic freedom, “Our abundance allowed us to practice kindness.”

The second thing that Yuri told him was that “The U.S. government was just as corrupt as the USSR government” but, foolishly and unlike Russians, “Americans still believe their government.”  “Don’t you know,” Yuri said, “The purpose of government is to take bribes”?


5:04 pm on January 29, 2023