Kleptocracy Against Itself*

Mike Huckabee — former governor of Arkansas, Fox “News” talk show host, and contender for the 2008 and possibly 2012 Republican presidential nomination — is on the attack versus “kleptocracy.”

I’m tempted to take credit for putting the idea into his head — my own most recent column on the subject appeared ten days before his own monologue/column — but it’s possible he’s put his leash on the word and walked it around the block before. On the basis of the first hundred or so it looks like all but the most recent such results are other people (correctly) referring to Huckabee as a kleptocrat himself, but I confess to lacking the patience to wade through all 37,200 Google returns on the linked terms “Huckabee” and “kleptocracy.”

This is far from the first time a big-government type has misappropriated and made hay with a perfectly good libertarian term (and the misappropriation is real, whether I’m the one he stole it from or not). I’m sure it won’t be the last. All that can really be said about it is this: Pot. Kettle. Black.

Just to be fair, I’m going to work from Huckabee’s own definition of “kleptocrat”:

A Kleptocrat is an elected official who takes that which doesn’t belong to him and either keeps it or gives it to someone that he can win favor with for future votes. … A Kleptocrat can readily justify stealing from those who worked and earned and giving to those who didn’t by using words like “fairness,” “compassion” and “rights.”


As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee supported:

– Redistribution of property tax revenues to “equalize” government school district funding, and introduction of the $7.6 million “Smart Start” elementary education program. In other words, he stole money that didn’t belong to him and used it to buy votes from people in the state’s poorer areas.

– A sales tax hike, the additional stolen revenues to be used for the purchase of votes from conservationists, environmentalists and government employees with with “improvements” to state parks.

– The purchase of more votes from the poor with stolen money allocated to the “ARKids First” socialized medicine scheme.

– The purchase of votes, support and endorsements from clergy, congregations and religious lobbyists, bought with his signature on the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act of 1997 (which allowed religious organizations to compete for a cut of Arkansas government’s stolen monies allocated to “welfare”).

* The purchase of votes and support from the construction/contracting lobby and government maintenance workers with a tax on gasoline and diesel (three and four cents per gallon respectively) to fund highway construction.

According to Club for Growth, Huckabee increased government spending, every dime of which had to be stolen before it could be spent, by 65.3% from 1996 through 2004. He was, in the words of Arkansas Times columnist Ernest Dumas, “the biggest taxer and spender” — the biggest kleptocrat — “in Arkansas history.”

As a 2008 presidential candidate, Huckabee came out for the “Fair Tax,” which if implemented would be the largest government “redistribution of wealth” scam in US history, disbursing a monthly federal welfare check to every man, woman and child in America. That’s a lot of stolen money being used to buy a lot of votes. He also supported a 50% increase in the biggest existing kleptocratic spending category, the already severely bloated “defense” budget.

This is the guy who wants to lecture you on the evils of kleptocracy! Hint: The next non-kleptocrat politician will be the first. Coercive taxation and monopoly government are, by definition, theft.

* With apologies to Jean François Revel

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Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory