This article is a dare to anyone who believes we need fix to “the government” or even “get back to the Constitution.”
These are cute, pleasant thoughts. However, The State is actually working as designed.
The State, properly defined, is an institution with a monopoly on the ability to initiate coercive force. You might not be able to see it or be all that sensitive to it, but The State bulldozes human beings, compelling them to do things they otherwise wouldn’t choose to do.
Those who pretend that bullying can be used for good are called statists. Statists dominate both major parties.
Until recently, my personal view was that a reduction in the size, the scope, the power, and the expense of the national government was the remedy to statism.
- I worked to elect “better” candidates.
- I fought in the courts to repair election laws which discriminated against challengers.
- I organized people to lobby legislators.
So trust me when I say…
Chances are you’ve never realized there was an alternative to political reform — until now. If you consider the information below, I think you’re likely to at least second-guess your desire to focus on improving how The State works.
Let’s see how it goes. Ready?
QUESTION ONE: The Political Attraction Principle
In Dune Frank Herbert wrote…
“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities… Power… is magnetic to the corruptible.”
Do you agree with Herbert that pathological personalities are more likely than average to be attracted to and successful at politics?
Since you mistrust politicians, your answer was probably, “Yes.”
QUESTION TWO: The Avarice Axiom
Most people would consider the following quote by Lord Acton to be as true as gravity…
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Do you agree with Acton?
That means, even if the person seeking power is NOT a sociopath — even if his intentions are pure as the wind-driven snow — once he obtains power, the pull towards corruption is overwhelming. Experience demonstrates that this rule holds more than 99% of the time.
A study of the incentives in the political system demonstrates why this is the case. Political incentives are perverse.
Stated differently, corruption is inherent to politics. Where most human beings outside the system consider it a flaw, it’s actually a feature! If there was no corruption, it would be impossible to buy-off the necessary votes to create “consensus.” Thus, cronyism, the method of building support for incumbent campaigns, needs corruption to thrive.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t agree with Lord Action’s axiom. I can probably safely assume, once again, that you said, “Yes.”
If you answered, “Yes” to the first two questions, then you’re already indicting the present system as irreparably flawed. Some still cling to the notion that somehow, like winning the lottery, we can find righteous men and women to lead. Such a search is likely futile. Exceptions only prove the rule. However, I’ve been told, “55 men in Philadelphia pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor’ to some pretty awesome principles, so it’s not impossible!” That brings us to the final question…
QUESTION THREE: The Alleged Necessity of Representation
Think carefully. Try to recall if you’ve ever said to yourself…
“Wow. I’m so glad I have a congressman there to represent me. Why, if I didn’t have one, I would have to cast those votes, and I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as my representative does!”
Have you, even once, had the grateful thought that you needed your Congressman to do the voting for you?
Chances are, if you’re like the audiences to which I’ve put these three questions, you’re laughing right now. The answer is obvious.
How is it we ended up with “representation” in the first place? Here’s how I tend to think it happened…
The custom, in New England, was Town Hall meetings. Everyone in the village went to these rarely-held meetings. The agenda was short enough to be deliberated in mere hours. Everyone voted.
Not too long ago, there were no phones or Internet, no trains, planes, or automobiles. Attending a legislative meeting at a distant capitol would require grueling travel over long distances — time away from family and commercial responsibilities. It would’ve been impractical to expect everyone to give up their jobs to go to the meeting. So people handed a person they trusted, who could afford the trip, their proxy. They probably gave him a gift to help pay for his travel expenses too.
The men who made these trips were the local aristocrats. No one else could afford the adventure. Sitting through meetings didn’t seem worth the trip. Yet, once the aristocrats arrived, they voted themselves a stipend and wrote a constitution to create permanent positions for their sons. That’s what governments do, right? Since it made sense to formalize the proxy arrangement, the move received tacit public consent.
But really, with the phone and the internet, do you need someone to vote on your behalf? Can’t you handle this task yourself?
You might respond that you couldn’t, because there are so many matters that would come before you every single week. You have a job, a family, and a life. You could never hope to keep up. But that gets to the heart of the matter. As Robert Higgs observed…
“What of any consequence remains beyond the state’s reach in the United States today? Not wages, working conditions, or labor-management relations; not health care; not money, banking, or financial services; not personal privacy; not transportation or communication; not education or scientific research; not farming or food supply; not nutrition or food quality; not marriage or divorce; not child care; not provision for retirement; not recreation; not insurance of any kind; not smoking or drinking; not gambling; not political campaign funding or publicity; not real estate development, house construction, or housing finance; not international travel, trade, or finance; not a thousand other areas and aspects of social life.”
The State even regulates the temperature of your hot water tank and the amount of water in your toilet. Is it safe to say there should be far less legislating?
And if, as you just established, a Congress is undesirable, doesn’t this new discovery directly call into question the Constitution itself? Its first great mistake is Article I, for by it were created positions which…
- attract sociopaths like magnets, while
- corrupting even the best-intentioned, so that both
- can mis-represent us.
IMAGINE (sung to the tune of the John Lennon song)
Imagine there’s no Congress.
It’s easy if you try.
No bickering amongst us.
Above us only sky.
Imagine there’s no Congress.
It isn’t hard to do.
No politicians. No slogans.
And no lobbying too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
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