Does mankind need government? If so, what kind of government best serves our needs?
ANARCHY – NO GOVERNMENT
If you’ve spent even a little time browsing through current events you might have noticed that the few countries on earth that effectively have no government are not places you’d like to raise a family. Somalia is certainly the poster child for anarchy today. Gangs roam the streets praying on the weak, pirates capture ships to extort money, and black marketeers control trade. Families from other African nations are not clamoring to immigrate there. I doubt its in the top 5,000 honeymoon locations either.
Why don’t humans behave well without government? There appears to be “control” and “exploit” traits among many of our planetary co-habitants. Some people simply have a need and/or desire to financially, politically, or physically control and exploit the lives of their fellow men. The Somali gangs, pirates, and black marketeers are obvious examples of these traits.
Not surprisingly there are no shortage of controlling government types. Bruce Springsteen summed it up well with the lyrics:
“Poor man wanna’ be rich, rich man wanna’ be king, and the king ain’t satisfied ‘til he rules everything.”
Kings controlled the lives of those in their kingdoms. An Emperor controlled the lives of even kings. Communism allowed the poor to switch the tables on the czars and emperors and gain control over their countrymen. Nazism allowed an ambitious corporal from WWI to control first German lives then as many of the people in neighboring countries as possible. Fascism allowed the Italian government to control people by controlling services and production. Socialism attempts to put the workers in charge of their fellow countrymen. Liberalism attempts to use elites to control the lives of others for their own good and to eliminate perceived disparities by controlling the reallocation of wealth. Because democracies may have socialist and liberal policies they too can be controlling governments. It is important to keep in mind here that Nazism and Fascism came about as a result of democratic elections.
Controlling governments pass laws that reward bad behavior. They seek to impose some form of direct or indirect control over citizens. They pass laws to give advantage to groups, industries, and individuals. They always claim those laws will benefit society. They always claim to be helping someone. Fresh titles and soaring rhetoric is combined to help that bitter pill go down:
- Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)
- Fairness Doctrine
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA aka Stimulus Package)
- Cash for Clunkers
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)
- and many more
The laws may appear to be helpful and kind but if they extend government control they will still have a net bad effect. The CRA of 1977 is a classic example. Helping those with bad credit and financial histories buy homes should help society. The government intervened in a safe and profitable market and over the course of a couple decades created a monster that brought the financial markets of the world to its knees. Regardless of a law’s intent, if the result is increased control of some portion of the citizenry, then those in power will have advanced their agenda toward domination. It pays to remember here that the German 1933 law that gave Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers was called the “Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation”. It must have sounded good at the time. Increased control is increased control no matter what sort of innocuous or euphemistic title it has.
Supervisory governments exist to promote the people’s general welfare and for protection of the citizens from external dangers. They are self limiting and have tools in place to prevent the government from controlling the lives of its citizens. Only democracies such as representative republics and parliamentarian systems have achieved supervisory government status in any large sense.
The US Constitution was a document that went about creating a supervisory government. The checks and balances spelled out in that incredible document along with the amendments sought to provide a framework to ensure that citizens would be free from the tyranny of a controlling government. Supervisory governments are always being eroded by forces in their societies who seek to control the lives of others.
Supervisory governments pass laws that reward good behavior. They avoid passing laws that provide an advantage to majority or minority groups, industries, companies, or individuals. Neither failure or success is guaranteed by the government. The role of governance in a supervisory government is to ensure competition, enforce property rights and contracts, protect the citizens from external threats, and guard the society from individuals and other entities who seek to impose control over citizens. In other words, defend freedom and liberty and promote freedom and liberty. When government does these things society prospers.
CONTROLLING VS. SUPERVISORY GOVERNMENTS
Our founders set out to purposefully create a relatively weak central government. They understood that a weak central government would lead to strong, innovative, creative, self-reliant, and confident citizens. A strong central government would lead to weak, stagnant, reliant, and self-doubting citizens. Government strength and people strength are inverse to each other. That is why controlling governments pass laws to weaken the people for without weakness they cannot impose their control.
- Stifle opportunity
- Stifle economic growth
- Stifle personal growth
- Stifle innovation
- Stifle liberty
- and stifle vitality
They don’t advertise these results of course. Failure to grow and thrive are chalked up to not enough control. If you’re still not successful the government will use that as an excuse to increase its control. The massive government control of the economy due to FDR’s New Deal policies were abysmal failures and extended the Depression long past a natural recovery. However when measured by the amount of increased government control they extended they were a fabulous success. One can only conclude that those policy makers were idiots beyond compare or that the goal was government control rather than economic recovery.
We now find ourselves in the midst of another serious economic decline and the new math gurus hired by Obama are trying to revive many of those same policies that so failed our country 75 years ago. The rationale? The government didn’t intervene enough back then to be successful so we will have to try it again with even more government intervention. Would you like to lay odds on the success of economic recovery vs. the success of increased government control?
- Promote opportunity
- Promote economic growth
- Promote personal growth
- Promote innovation
- Promote liberty
- and promote vitality
This in turn produces a confident citizenry. Remove these factors and you have a citizenry filled with self-doubt which is a fuel necessary for those seeking control. Those who desire control understand that they must first create an atmosphere of self-doubt. Then their offer to bring back confidence if you just let them take some of your liberty sounds like a fair trade. Still don’t feel confident? Give as little more of your liberty! Until one day you have no confidence and no hope and find out that the government you relied on to help you was simply using you.
If the greatness of a nation is measured by the industry, vitality, and liberty of its citizens then it becomes obvious that controlling governments are not destined to create great nations. Controlling governments can reduce once great nations though. America has been the destination of choice for immigrants for centuries. The reason was because we had a constitution that protected liberty and a society that would allow anyone to be great. When the government does not put up barriers to advancement then the poorest of the poor have opportunity.
SPOTTING CONTROL FREAKS
By now you might be wondering, “How do I tell if a politician wants to control my life vs. liberate my life?”. For starters, if a politician calls themselves an anarchist, a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a nazi, a progressive, a green, or a modern liberal then they want to control your life. If the politician is too clever to advertise their inclinations with one of those labels you have to examine their policy proposals. Remember – if they’re too clever to give away their intentions with a label they will also try to hide their intent with rhetoric. “Social justice” sounds like it would be liberating but the result is control of opportunity. In other words the government decides the winners and losers and vitality is stifled.
Nearly all Democrats are now liberal/progressive and advocate for some amount or form of government control. Conservatives have been successfully expunged from the ranks of Democrats. Republicans haven’t been immune to control freaks either. A large portion of the blame for the reduced impact of conservatism is because too many Republican politicians chose the control path themselves. They started to believe that government was the solution rather than the problem. When conservatives failed to stand up to increased control and Republicans themselves started to advocate for government control the party gave the advantage to the liberals/Democrats.
Many an ambitious man with the desire to control the lives of others has risen to the heights of power for they have an ambition. Those who do not want to control others seldom have the desire to walk the halls of power and will on occasion put themselves at the mercy of the ambitious. Now is one of those times and our country is at a crossroads. Our constitutional protections against a controlling government have been eroding for over 225 years now. Do we bow to the force of controlling government or do we start to rebuild those institutions that have been eroded? If we choose to rebuild our institutions of freedom and liberty how do we begin?
I suggest we begin by finding, promoting, and electing conservatives that demonstrate that they want to reverse the erosion of our constitutional principles. The politician that promises to eliminate controlling laws has my vote. I’m not near so interested in new policies as I am in old policies. We will need to put our government on the “if it tastes good spit it out” diet. We simply can’t afford to financially support our current government in the short term let alone the long term. Everything the government spends had to first be taken from a productive citizen or borrowed from a bank (and repaid by taking even more from productive citizens later).
Government intervention/control harms individuals, majority groups, minority groups, industries, and all facets of life. Eliminate all laws that reward bad behavior starting with the CRA of 1977 and its offspring. Eliminate all laws that prevent competition and mandate advantage. Phase out all subsidies and all corporate taxation. The one new policy I could get behind would be to institute a single tax source for financing government. A tax that everybody pays, is consistent regardless of income, and makes obvious the cost of government would be best. If no taxes were taken out of payroll, or escrow accounts, or cell phone bills and a 50% tax applied to all purchases people would finally be able to gauge the cost to benefit of government. If everyone could easily grasp the cost of government they would likely hold their elected officials more accountable – as it should be.