Political Realities

By S. Leon Felkins

Originally Written: 20 December 1995

Latest Revision: 10/9/09


Hard at Work!Notice: This section is under constant revision!


"To be governed is to be watched,inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed;then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. THAT is government;that is its justice;that is it's morality." P.J. Proudhon

In this essay I would like to discuss government and politics in a straightforward manner. I suspect that what I have to say will not be what you are used to hearing whether you be conservative, liberal, libertarian or whatever. There are some basic fundamentals about politics that can be discussed with little emphasis on any particular party. In other words, as we can discuss religion without getting into any particular religion, hopefully we can discuss politics without promoting any particular flavor of politics.

The following paragraphs attempt to describe the concept of politically based government. The assessment is based on observation more than ideological theory. I do not see the evils of government as being a result of the people that are in it as much as the system itself. While I realize that government no doubt attracts a certain type of person, in my opinion, the main problem is not the people in the government. It is the nature of the system. If you replaced all those "bloodsuckers" that reside there now with honest people like you and me, not much would change. I will try to explain why.


Notes:

1. See the excellent essay on this subject, "The balanced budget amendment: Clarifying the arguments", by James M. Buchanan, Public Choice 90: 117-138, 1997.

2. The March 12, 1997 issue of The Hill, a Washington newspaper, carries a full page advertisement encouraging congress to vote for H.R. 4, a bill that would move transportation spending "off-budget". Who do you think paid for the ad? In the same issue, Representative Robert L. Livingston exposes the concept that the ad promotes for the fraud that it is. You need to write to him and express your appreciation.

3. "Unintended Consequences" are a major problem with controlling organizations, particularly the government. An excellent book on the subject is Edward Tenner's Why Things Bite Back, 1996, Knopf. A related issue and a primary cause is called "Gaming the System", wherein the people subject to the rules look for ways to take advantage of the rules -- in their own favor. An example that immediately comes to mind is the bidding procedure of ebay.com. While ebay allows for a week or so of bidding on an item up for bids, with open display of the current bids, by "gaming the system", bidders can do better by bidding in the last 10 to 30 seconds or so. For all practical purposes this converts the ebay system from an open bidding system to a "sealed bid system". Two other notorious examples are how farmers "game" the government and how tax avoiders "game" the IRS rules (e.g., deducting costs of items intended for personal pleasure, creating a nice discount on the purchase price).


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