Quite interesting topic selected for this month’s survey. From experience and observation, I have very strong opinions on government at all levels, having been forced by this band of mountebanks (at the point of a gun) to give up some fifty percent of the fruits of me efforts to support it. The vast majority of the people of our land have never been taught the original purpose for the establishment of our government. The purpose is clearly spelled out in the first paragraph of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --“
“to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men” - . The rights in question are positive rights, such as the right to a free press, free speech, etc., which impose no obligation on anyone else except that they leave you the hell alone to enjoy them. They are not negative rights, such as FDR dreamed up; the “right” to freedom from hunger, etc.
To quote P.J. O’Rourke, most government functions do not meet the “gun to grandma’s head” test. Meaning, of course that all government functions, even the obviously unnecessary such as the National Tea Taster’s Board, (http://www.polyconomics.com/searchbase/02-09-01.html) are supported by taxing the productive. How it works is, if Grandma doesn’t really see a need for such an agency, and chooses not to contribute, then jackbooted thugs from the government will come and find her, and hold a gun to her head until she agrees to pay up. My all-time favorite person in history, Lysander Spooner, expressed it much better than I can, as follows:
“For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.: 1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a "government" (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. 2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future. 3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so? To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his money without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it. 4. If a man wants "protection," he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to "protect" him against his will. 5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury. 6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.” - From No Treason, the Constitution of No Authority
Those of you who know me and suspect that I never had an original thought in my life – well, that’s OK, because I have, in a sense, “stood on the shoulders of giants” – to quote a few of my favorite giants on their take on government –
Be it or be it not true that Man is shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, it is unquestionably true that Government is begotten of aggression, and by aggression. -- Herbert Spencer, 1850.
This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention, the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State; that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long-run sustains, nourishes and impels human destinies. -- Jose Ortega y Gasset, 1922.
It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men. – H. L. Mencken, 1926
“(Government’s) intention, far from contemplating "freedom and security," contemplated nothing of the kind. It contemplated primarily the continuous economic exploitation of one class by another, and it concerned itself with only so much freedom and security as was consistent with this primary intention; and this was, in fact, very little. Its primary function or exercise was not by way of Paine's purely negative interventions upon the individual, but by way of innumerable and most onerous positive interventions, all of which were for the purpose of maintaining the stratification of society into an owning and exploiting class, and a propertyless dependent class. The order of interest that it reflected was not social, but purely antisocial; and those who administered it, judged by the common standard of ethics, or even the common standard of law as applied to private persons, were indistinguishable from a professional-criminal class. The modified technique has been in use almost from the beginning, and everywhere its first appearance marks the origin of the State. Citing Ranke's observations on the technique of the raiding herdsmen, the Hyksos, who established their State in Egypt about B.C. 2000, Gumplowicz remarks that Ranke's words very well sum up the political history of mankind. Indeed, the modified technique never varies. Everywhere we see a militant group of fierce men forcing the frontier of some more peaceable people, settling down upon them and establishing the State, with themselves as an aristocracy. In Mesopotamia, irruption succeeds irruption, State succeeds State, Babylonians, Amoritans, Assyrians, Arabs, Medes, Persians, Macedonians, Parthians, Mongols, Seldshuks, Tatars, Turks; in the Nile valley, Hyksos, Nubians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks; in Greece, the Doric States are specific examples; in Italy, Romans, Ostrogoths, Lombards, Franks, Germans; in Spain, Carthaginians, Visigoths, Arabs; in Gaul, Romans, Franks, Burgundians, Normans; in Britain, Saxons, Normans." Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy the State, 1935 (Bold type mine)
“Giving money to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” P.J. O’Rourke
I could go on and on, quoting Wilhelm von Humboldt’s “Limits of State Power”, John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”, John Locke’s “Second Treatise on Civil Government”, Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Thomas Paine, etc., etc., but I think you get the picture about what my attitude is. Brief case in point, the Arapahoe County Library District, which opens only on very limited hours on Sundays. On a recent Sunday I visited one of the libraries, and counted ten parasites sitting around on their fat asses getting bed sores. If I choose to not participate in this outrage, by not paying my property taxes, men with guns will come to my house, and if I resist their aggressions, THEY WILL KILL ME, if that is what it takes to confiscate my property for the funding of their hare-brained “social engineering” nonsense. To contrast, take a look at Barnes & Noble bookstore, which is open late every day, and functions very efficiently with a limited staff. And we all love to hate the United States Post Office, which at one time outlawed the sending of faxes by anyone other than the US Postal Service. Is this what they call “government services”? Sounds like government taking care of its’ own interests to me.
What?? You don’t believe governments routinely kills their own citizens? Take a look at R.J. Rummel’s “Death by Government” - In the book, Rummel researched government killings and reported that throughout history, governments have killed more than 300 million people--with more than half, or 170 million, killed during the twentieth century. These numbers don't include war deaths! My gast is utterly flabbered! It is an eternally repeating phenomenon, and always plays out in very similar way. First, demonize a segment of society. Then pass “gun control” laws, to disarm them. Then slaughter them. One such is in recent memory, the tribal slaughter of some 800,000 Hutus by the Tutsis in Rwanda. Disarm them, then kill them. The twentieth century has turned out to be the bloodiest in human history, confirming the worst fears of classical liberals who have always warned about government power.
Some philosophers still may say that the purpose of government is the protection of your life and property, but the real purpose of most governments today, including our own fed, state, county, city, etc., is the aggrandizement of politicians by the spending of your money. The best way for a politician to promote his own ends is to start a war; unfortunately this method is a major disaster for the people. But it’s our own fault, because if we are asked to name a few good presidents, most people would mention Lincoln and FDR. Lincoln presided over more suffering than any two other presidents, and FDR ruled over a depression and a world war. If asked to name bad presidents, we might mention Grant, Harding or Eisenhower, presidents who held office in peaceful and prosperous times. The message is clear – Good leaders fight wars. If a president can’t find some foreigners to attack, he will declare war on poverty, drugs, rock and roll, witchcraft, or anything else that a majority of the voters can be persuaded to oppose. As the Sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken put it, politicians would happily pass laws promoting cannibalism or astrology if they thought the voters wanted them.
James Madison’s thoughts on today’s flavor of federal government are brilliantly written down in Federalist Paper #10 as follows:
Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union. The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.
The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:
“From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths” - (italics mine)