Sunday, July 17, 2005

Always Evil?

Government is evil when it is not sufficiently restrained. The framers of the U.S. Constitution knew of government's tendency to gain more power and become a threat to the people. They harbored no utopian illusions that government is a paternal figure with only our best interests at heart. “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it can be a dangerous servant or a fearful master,” said George Washington. Like fire, it must be kept under control before it consumes everything.

As James Madison stated, “If men were angels no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." -- James Madison, The Federalist Papers, Paper #51. Why do we need government? Unrestrained governments have a tendency to steal away the rights of the people, but so do unrestrained men. Governing forces always exist, even in anarchy, but the only legitimate ones are those which exist by the consent of the people. Now, I am not referring to the Hobbesian idea that we must give up all of our rights for some amount of security which the government may afford us. Rather, we recognize that individually it may be difficult to secure our rights against those who may form alliances against us. To protect those rights (life, liberty and property), we created our own alliance, known as government, to enforce our contracts and settle civil disputes, protect us from foreign threats, and convict and punish criminals. Government's job is not to supply goods or services -- it is not to protect us from ourselves -- it is not to make us good people -- it is not to make us tolerant -- it is not to make us smart -- it is not to make us healthy -- it is not to make us rich -- yet, in remaining limited and providing only the environment in which we may thrive and produce all of these things ourselves, we become all of the above.

The next question is then, Why doesn't government stick to doing its job?

To be continued .........

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