IS GOVERNMENT A SOLUTION TO ANYTHING?
People often debate or argue about the "role of government." But there is a basic argument that is almost always overlooked. It is a very simple argument:
Is there any evidence that just because people call themselves "government," or they organize themselves into an institution called "government," they can do their jobs better?
In Man and Superman George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Government is the organization of idolatry." The dictionary defines "idol" as:
An idolater is a worshipper of idols. Idolatry is the phenomenon of worshipping idols. What do we call the belief in the "magical power" of government? What about the belief that because people call themselves "government" - or they organize themselves into an institution called "government" - therefore they have "magical powers" to perform miracles? Superstition, perhaps?
WE NEED PLANNING, COORDINATION, AND MANAGING
Certain "communal" activities need to be performed. For example, in a city certain things need to planned, coordinated, and managed. If you go to any city, you will find some human beings doing just this. They may use computers and other equipment, but the essential planning, coordination, and managing is always done by human beings. If you visit a large company, you will find the same thing. We absolutely do need planning, coordination, and managing. We have it. People do it.
DO WE ALSO NEED COERCION, VIOLENCE, AND MONOPOLIES?
Generally, the people who call themselves "government" operate on a different basis from that of the people who don't call themselves "government." The following assumptions seem to underlie the behavior of the people who call themselves "government":
Governments utilize coercive power, the power of violence, the power that stems from the barrel of a gun, power over or against people, government power at the expense of individual power. Government is organized violence. Governments, over time, tend to do their utmost to eliminate individual power. With a few exceptions, governments do not solve problems, they create them.
THE WEAKEST ARGUMENT FOR GOVERNMENT
If we don't have government there will be chaos, disorder, crime, poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, drug abuse, pollution, etc, etc.
Answer 1: How do you know? Answer 2: Such a list almost always consists of problems we already suffer from - in other words, if we have government there will be chaos, disorder, crime, poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, drug abuse, pollution, etc, etc.
The people who call themselves "government" need such problems in order to justify their jobs. It is in their interest to create such problems and make them worse. The worse the problems, the bigger the bureaucratic empires they create, the more money they get, the more power they obtain, the more people they control.
The bigger the government, the greater the problems. A politician like Bush may say that he will reduce government and lower taxes because he thinks it will help him get re-elected. In practice Bush has greatly increased his own bureaucratic empire. His administration has expanded government regulation with abandon. He promised, "Read my lips, no new taxes," and then raised taxes. Under Bush, deficit spending has ballooned out of control.
PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED BY PEOPLE, NOT BY GOVERNMENTS.
Once you realize that governments consist of people, and that whatever is being done is done by individual human beings - even though they may use machines and equipment - then it becomes embarrassingly obvious that only people can solve problems. The entire notion that government can or should do anything becomes quite absurd.
In their book Breakthrough Thinking, Gerald Nadler and Shozo Hibino write that "an organization, as a collective body, can't approach a problem." They have a section on "political and governmental horrors." They indicate that politics and government "are the graveyards of misbegotten problem solving." Politicians and bureaucrats have three basic types of "solutions":
In terms of problem-solving methodology, all three types are at best inefficient.
I would go further and suggest that as soon as people call themselves "government," there is a considerable probability that they acquire some kind of "magical power in reverse" - they somehow become less able to solve problems. Nadler and Hibino say that, "Government is operated mainly by bureaucrats, and bureaucrats' classic criterion in decision making is not fulfillment of project purposes but protection of their jobs."
Some people say government is a fecal alchemist - everything they touch turns into feces.
GOOD PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT
There are good people in government who produce worthwhile results. These valuable results are produced, not because the good people call themselves "government," but because they are good, competent, skillful people. If these people were to leave government - stop calling themselves "government" - I expect they would be able to produce even better results.
ANARCHY OR SELF-GOVERNMENT
In the coming chapters you will be provided with some tools you will be able to use to greatly increase your economic and social power. You will gain both greater power to govern yourself and freedom to operate your business or financial affairs on the basis of voluntary exchange - as intended by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Call it anarchy, or call it free enterprise, or call it individual self-government. It is the solution to both personal and societal problems.