August 18, 2003
The 7 Vital
Principles About Government
It's easy to think sometimes that a new government
program, law, or
regulation could cure a pressing social problem.
.... But when you get that kind of thought, I hope you'll remember the
seven principles that apply to all government programs -- not just the
ones you oppose.
Government is force.
Every government program, law, or
regulation is a demand that someone do what he doesn't want to do, refrain
from doing what he does want to do, or pay for something he doesn't want to
pay for. And those demands are backed up by police with guns.
expect that force to be used only against the guilty. But we can
how the Drug War, the foreign wars, asset forfeiture, the Patriot
other government activities have used force just as often
innocent -- people who have not intruded on anyone else's
person or property.
In fact, government force is used more often against
the innocent than the
guilty, because the guilty make it their business to
understand the laws
that apply to them and stay clear of them.
Meanwhile, the innocent, thinking they've nothing to fear, suddenly find
that they've innocently violated laws they never heard
2. Government is
Whenever you turn over to the government a financial,
military, or commercial matter, it's automatically
transformed into a
political issue -- to be decided by those with the
most political influence. And that will never be you or
Politicians don't weigh their votes on the basis of ideology or
good. They think in terms of political power.
You don't control government.
It's easy to think of the perfect
law that will stop the bad guys while
leaving the good guys unhindered. But
no law will be written the way you
have in mind, it won't be
administered the way you have in mind, and it won't be adjudicated the way
you have in mind.
Your ideal law will be written by politicians for
administered by bureaucrats for political purposes, and
judges appointed for political purposes. So don't be
surprised if the new law turns out to do exactly the opposite of what you
thought you were supporting.
government program will be more expensive and more expansive than anything
you had in mind when you proposed it.
It will be applied in all
sorts of ways you never dreamed of. When Medicare was initially passed in
1965, the politicians projected its cost in 1992 to be $3 billion -- which
is equivalent to $12 billion when adjusted
for inflation to 1992 dollars. The
actual cost in 1992 was $110 billion --
nine times as much.
Medicare was enacted, Section 1801 of the original
specifically prohibited any bureaucratic interference with the
practice of medicine. Today not one word of that protection still applies.
The federal government owns the health-care industry lock, stock, and
The new program you support will eventually include all sorts of
and privileges you can't even imagine right
5. Power will always be
Give good people the power to do good and that power
eventually will be in the hands of bad people to do bad. As Michael Cloud
has pointed out, "The problem isn't the abuse of power; it's the power to
abuse." Give politicians power and it certainly will be abused eventually
-- if not by today's politicians, then by their successors.
O'Rourke said, "Giving money and power to politicians is
giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
6. Government doesn't work.
government is force, because government programs are designed to enrich the
politically powerful, because you can't control government and make it do
what's right, because every new government program soon wanders from
its original purpose, and because politicians eventually misuse the power
you give them, it is inevitable that no government program will deliver on
the promises the politicians make for it.
For years, I've asked
listeners during radio interviews to name a
government program that has
actually delivered on its promises, and no one has been able to do so. If
you think there's a successful government program, you probably don't
know how much it actually costs, aren't aware of all its destructive
side-effects, have no idea how easily and inexpensively such a thing could
be done outside of government, and/or are basing your view of its success
on political propaganda.
It doesn't matter whether a program is
supposed to do something you want or something you don't want, whether the
program is something you consider a proper function of government or
something beyond its limits, It won't work. Government programs always wind
up disappointing you.
must be subject to absolute limits.
Because politicians have
every incentive to expand government, and with it their power, there must
be absolute limits on government. The Constitution provides the obvious
limits we must reimpose upon the
federal government. Until the Constitution
is enforced, we have no hope of containing the federal government. The
present system of unlimited power is like giving a drunken stranger a
set of signed, blank checks on your bank account. You are reduced to
relying on the honesty and integrity of people you don't even know -- and
they abuse that trust again and again.
Whether you think government
should be bigger or smaller than the limits
specified in the Constitution,
the first step is to restore absolute limits, and then -- if you like --
work to change those limits to ones that would be more to your liking.
With the above as a foundation,
would not American's be well advised to adhere to the admonition
of Thomas Jefferson, "Let no more be heard of confidence in men, but rather bind
them down by the chains of the Constitution."
So long as there are no chains binding down
and restricting the government, do we really believe that giving government
more powers, more enforcement and more laws will cure our problems? Nay!
Quite the contrary. Yes, wild tigers are interesting to observe at the zoo so
long as they are kept in constraint. But who wants to observe a wild tiger on
their front lawn?
Yea, I, Ron Branson, adamantly argue
that it is time we have the constraints of the Federal J.A.I.L. Bill in place
before we look to Congress for solutions to our problems, for "Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is
force; and, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful
master!" - George Washington.
"..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an
irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." - Samuel
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who
striking at the
-- Henry David Thoreau