"For between the state, which is hugely generous with impossible promises, and the general public, which has conceived unattainable hopes, have come two classes of men, those with ambition and those with utopian dreams. Their role is clearly laid out by the situation. It is enough for these courtiers of popularity to shout into the people’s ears: “The authorities are misleading you; if we were in their place, we would shower you with benefits and relieve you of taxes.”
And the people believe this, and the people hope…."
That is from page 100 of of Volume 2 (“The Law,” “The State,” and Other Political Writings, 2012) of Liberty Fund’s The Collected Works of Frederic Bastiat; specifically, it’s a passage from Bastiat’s September 1848 essay “The State”.
Hat tip to Don Boudreaux.