On Government

by John Hawkins | September 20, 2010 10:22 am

The more you expect from politics, the more you will be disappointed. That’s because the government does very few things well and the politicians who tell you otherwise are inevitably shameless liars. So, why do people insist that our government engage in activities it does poorly and was never intended to do in the first place? Because transforming a free society through persuasion is extremely difficult. To paraphrase Dilbert, it’s like herding cats, but just to make it interesting, many of the cats are drunk and stupid. So, instead of convincing hundreds of millions of Americans to follow a particular course of action, it’s much easier to just pass a law, and then force everyone to comply whether they agree or not.

Of course, we’re often told about government’s successes — and there are a few. But, what’s seldom acknowledged is that if we’re honest, we have to admit that the government’s big success always come with an enormous price tag, either in freedom or in treasure. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth it, just that we shouldn’t pretend that the people didn’t pay a dear price for the government’s success.

However, that’s just a small part of the equation. For every great government success, there are hundreds of non-functional programs, boneheaded decisions, and legislative money pits that do far more harm than good. This is not the result of not having the right people in charge, it’s the result of constantly using a slow, clumsy, unwieldy instrument on jobs it was never intended to do in the first place. Our government doesn’t even do a good job on things it’s SUPPOSED to do, like securing the border and enforcing its own regulations, so it’s obviously not a good idea of expand its power into every nook and cranny of American life.

The more government expands, the less money, freedom, and, yes, even human dignity, the American people will inevitably have. Every time the government takes over a responsibility that people used to handle for themselves, the people affected become less competent, less prepared, and less capable of looking after their own lives. In other words, the more the government acts like a parent, the more the American people become like children.

Consider it all in totality and you will understand why wise people have much more fear of what the government can do to them than hope about what the government can do for them.

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