As we continue to deal with the Anno Horribus 2020, and especially the mess called the General Election of 2020 and the Second Lockdown, let us sit back and think for a moment or two.
What is the real role of human, involuntary government? Not what its advocates, defenders, or detractors claim. But what it is really capable of doing? Both internally and externally?
Tough question, eh? Important though it may be, it isn’t something you can give a middle-schooler an essay assignment on: write 1,000 words on what government is capable of doing.
Especially if you limit it to “good things” – that is, things that everyone can agree are good to have happen.
How about if we twist the question. Let’s ask, “what things can government NOT really do anything about – or not do anything good about?” No matter how hard it tries to do good in those areas?
That is quite a list, too. As demonstrated by millennia of historical events. Of governments of all kinds trying to do all kinds of things. Frequently, government can make things WORSE. But seldom “better.”
Government, for example, cannot:
- Control economic activity efficiently or effectively
- Protect sound money that will hold its value
- Provide good educations to children or adults
- Protect people from death, injury, or illness – or even prevent such things much
- Improve economic trends – things which improve prosperity
- Increase personal liberty
- Preserve the peace
- Improve society and create a better culture
What government has done?
- Destroyed economic activity: made it inefficient, ineffective, and harmful
- Destroyed sound money in dozens of ways
- Provided indoctrination and rote learning
- Increase the numbers of people injured, made ill, and prematurely dying of violence and other things
- Destroy prosperity – take away honestly-earned wealth
- Stolen away personal liberty
- Disrupted the peace of communities and the world in countless ways
- Damages society and causes the general culture to decay
Government can destroy. Lives, communities, and more. THAT is its power.
Maybe I’m being extremely critical of government. Too much so? Governments have (at least theoretically) tried to do such things. And seem to have failed – all the time. Any improvement has been fleeting at best. If the actions were “improvements” at all – and not just eyewash.
What has done these things? Individual people working cooperatively, voluntarily, together as families, communities, voluntary associations without coercive power. Clubs and churches and even spontaneous groups who reached out and did something about one or a very few connected problems. Always on a local level, even if ultimately their efforts had large-scale, even global, impact.
Governments can, at best, pay or force someone – an individual or a group – to do something good, to create something valuable. But then, most of the time, government takes that creation and either uses it for bad purposes, or simply wastes it. It appears to be merely a coincidence when government actually improves matters. An incidental result while it does the only thing it can do: destroy.
No Congress, no president, no supreme court can do anything to fix all the problems our States, the world, faces today. Not in a year, four years, or four centuries. No Legislature, no governor, no council or commission, no mayor or executive, no judge (or jury) or justice of the peace. At best, the government can destroy things, so that some of the problems go away – but that is certainly not a desired outcome.
Indeed, it is doubtful that any of those people in power, and the system that they can control can even possibly bend the arc in a better direction. Make life “somewhat” better. No matter how small the government – and with less and less potential the bigger the government and the state it claims to rule is.
The only thing that has ever seemed to work, in the history of humanity, is to take away government. To take away the power of government. To reduce the power of people in government to control others. To steal money. To punish people. To make things illegal. To destroy things.
Nothing else seems to work. When we free people from control by other people, from domination, we get people who go out and do great things. Invent things, make things, sell things, help people, help their families, help society, help the community.
The opposite of what government does. Government destroys. People create.
But we have to teach people that. Even people who claim to love liberty – and especially those who believe that government gives them security and peace and happiness. NOT to base their attitudes on who won or who did not win. On who defrauded other people. We have to teach people. We have to ask, among other things, why on earth they should believe that a government that can’t do something as basic as running an election should possibly be in charge of the rest of our lives?
The sum? There is no real role for government. And until we learn otherwise, we will continue to live in misery and fear. Because ultimately, the more powerful government becomes, the more it destroys.