Government, the good dog and the bad dog

As we are about to embark upon an enormous expansion of our Government into the economy and therefore into our daily lives we should take a moment to reflect upon the implications of Government when it becomes the biggest dog on the block.    We should start with the basics and and recall that our Constitution is about limiting government.   It carefully delineates the powers afforded to our government and sets forth the powers that are to remain with the people or the states.  It also details the rights that government cannot  abridge, limit or restrict.   Please read it again.  You can do that in about 10 minutes.   Our Constitution was not designed with the idea that government would be all powerful.   It was  created to be powerful enough to protect us from danger and to provide the framework for each of us to have the maximum freedom to make our own way in life without undue interference from the government.   It historically has always been a tricky business to get the balance right between the power of the government and the people.  That struggle was at the heart of the revolt against Caesar.   You may remember that Caesar was taking more and more power and limiting the powers of the Senate.   Many thought that was the wrong way to go and that too much power in a centralized form (in this case, in the hands of Caesar) was the path to loss of freedom and the rights of the people.  Thus Caesar was slain.   History probably proved those conspirators to be right.  For all its faults and shortcomings the Empire did endure for hundreds of years after the death of Caesar and all the Emporers were sensitive to the rights of the people even when they abused those rights and ruled like tyrants.   The situation usually righted itself over time and another good Caesar would come along like Marcus Aurelius.

Government can be an instrument for good but also a hive of evil when its powers reach too far.   Germany in the ’30’s and Russia during its revolution are both powerful lessons for this proposition.   In Germany the people after the devastation of the War and then the inflation and depression were looking to their government for help and they did need it.   Problem was that as the government did improve the daily life of the common man it also gained power.   The government under Hitler did better the lives of the people for several years.   He had his own stimulus package and built the autobahns and started the Volkswagen works and generally got their economy rolling with government intervention.   Likewise, the  Russians had been suppressed for so long that the new government seemed a savior to most of them during the ’20’s and soon most of them were eating at least and the government was busy building them places to live even if shoddy and they had medical care, when they could get their turn in line.   That government also gained in power with each passing year and the people in both those nations ceded more and more authority to their central governments to run and control everything.   Please read some histories of both  those nations during these periods for your own study and reflection.

When government becomes more powerful it also becomes subject to the  inevitable accumulation of power in fewer and fewer hands.   This combined with the control of the government over every aspect of one’s life from school,  to work, housing, medical care and money makes the people dependent upon the government.  It is supposed to be the other way around in a democracy where the government is dependent upon the people.   Both those nations reached tipping points and soon the government was the dominant and all powerful determiner of your life.   The government was no longer the servant of the people but the people were there only to serve the government and those who controlled it.     The more power gets centralized the more it becomes like a vortex sucking everything into its maw.   Our Federal system was designed to prevent this from happening.  Sadly our states and people are ceding more and more power to Washington rather than retaining it for themselves and their  states.   We have reached the point where Washington taxes us so much that the states are going to it now hat in hand begging for money.  If the Federal taxes were lower in the first place there would be more revenue for the states to use for those projects and benefits they believe necessary for their people.  Where in the Constitution does it give power to the Federal government to control local schooling?  That is supposed to be a purely local matter and should be.  Why are we needing to go to Washington to get funds for new school buildings or anything else related to schooling?

We have pampered our dog and fed it too much and now it has reached the point that it is becoming the master.   We should consider restoring a balance of power between the people and government again.   Everyone in Germany in 1934 thought things were going so well until they woke up one fine morning and realized that the government was not there anymore to serve them but had become their master.   Let’s not let the lessons of history go unheeded.  At least study and think about it.  If you think the government has not become too powerful and will not that is fine.  Just make sure your conclusion  is informed and thoughtful.   To say it couldn’t happen here is too puerile.

Gravity is such a strange creature.  It is on the one hand so powerful it can kill you and on the other it is so very weak compared to some of the other fundamental elements of our universe.  If it was really powerful you wouldn’t be able to function to move about because the force of gravity would pull you this way and that between objects.

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Filed under Economics, government, history

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