Yes, yes, I realize that Bill Gates is far richer than I am. It bothers me not at all, because he has no power over me. I can refuse to buy his products by exercising my own free will. But even the pettiest state official — a bullying policeman, for example — does have power to coerce me. I have no choice about doing business with the state. It can take my money without giving me anything in return. And after all, what can it give me? It produces nothing.
But can’t the rich use their money to buy power — by influencing elections? Certainly. But the problem is not the money, but the state. It’s usually corrupt and uses its power corruptly. If there were no state, or if it could be strictly limited to a few powers, it couldn’t become an instrument of the rich. “The way to get rid of corruption in high places,” the libertarian Frank Chodorov said, “is to get rid of high places.”