Wow. My man, Alexander Hoffelder, shared a quote from Bastiat that I had never seen before. And that quote is the single best indictment of the rent-seeking society that I have ever seen. It's all there....the rent, the seeking, the damage, and the moral decay.
"When under the pretext of fraternity, the legal code imposes mutual sacrifices on the citizens, human nature is not thereby abrogated. Everyone will then direct his efforts toward contributing little to, and taking much from, the common fund of sacrifices. Now, is it the most unfortunate who gains from this struggle? Certainly not, but rather the most influential and calculating." - Bastiat, Justice and Fraternity
Frederic Bastiat: the Robert Tollison of the 1850s.
UPDATE: Another pretty good quote, from Joe Stiglitz, before he went all Krugman on us:
Public actions, however, are also subject to constraints and limitations, so that the essential problem of public regulatory policy is to determine when government action improves market performance and when, in contrast, private action can take better advantage of information and incentives within the marketplace” (Stiglitz, WHITHER SOCIALISM, 1994, 36)