Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Axioms of Government

A number of years ago I wrote an article for my blog called, “The Rules of Money,” which covered in my mind a set of my own axioms regarding how I think of money and the ways in which it seems to work. As fate would have it, it is my most popular article.

I think that liberalism, for most people who adhere to the modern big government philosophy, is composed of large sets of misunderstandings of the nature of just how certain societal level systems work. Among those is, of course, a misunderstanding of what money is. Another major flaw in the understanding of those who would support big government is the true nature of what government is. To them, they support it because it has presented itself as a system of providing benefits to the People. In spite of this apparency nothing could be further from the truth as far as its actual nature is.

So in the same spirit as my axioms regarding the rule of money, I most humbly offer my rules of government. It should be noted that these axioms are more of a commentary on the way things are, rather than the way things have to be. I do this in the hopes that in pondering these points I will disabuse a few liberals of the supposed benefits of giving any group of people the power to control us all in everything we do.

I’m fairly certain that some are going to think me rather cynical in my viewpoint of the government as represented by these axioms. The thing is I can think of many examples where the government has behaved exactly as these rules say. Furthermore I can think of almost no exceptions to them.

1.       Government is force.

No matter how generous and benevolent their programs seem to be we should never lose sight of their real nature. There is a quote, widely and I think incorrectly, attributed to George Washington, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence—it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

Regardless of who actually said it, it is philosophically correct, and a very usable, undeniable axiom. Government is force. Initially government, as defined by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, are people who are authorized by the People to use force against other people who are not willing to comply with the laws necessary to our security, so that we may be free to exercise our own rights. “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They don't do that so much anymore as they have now been charged with providing anything we whimsically define as our "rights" directly; all subject to their rules and regulations.

Well, what do they have to make sure those rules and regulations are followed? The authorized use of…wait for it…that’s right…GUNS! That is all they have to back their policy. If you don’t do what they say, sooner or later, nice men with guns will show up and make sure you do what they want. If you ever doubt this, give it a try sometime. And please be sure to send me the results in the comments below.

2.       The government will never limit its own power.

This is a natural functioning of human beings wherever they exist. Their normal tendency is to try to expand and grow. Whether it is in business, or their own income, or a game they are playing, or a government, they always try to make it more. It goes against human nature to try and contain people at or below a certain level. This only becomes important when the nature of their growth becomes in issue of increasing power over other people, often against their will.

3.       Laws are by definition implied or overt threats of the use of government force against certain behaviors of people.

Every law I’ve ever read includes a section which specifies what the penalty for non-compliance is. Just for example one of my personal favorites is Title 18 U.S. Code § 2381. This section provides us with the legal definition and penalty for treason. "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

This is a threat. They can imprison you or kill you if you don’t follow it. It is certain that they will because they have. Due to the extreme nature of this law the penalty of it is quite severe but every law has the threat of fines, imprisonment, or loss of means to an income included in it. This can extend from death at its highest level, or the loss of things like your license to teach, or drive a car, or be a doctor, at its lowest level.

One category of law people tend not to think of is taxes. Yes, taxes are laws. If you don’t pay you are going to go to prison for violation of the law. Your behavior, that is your failure to pay, does not suit the whims and edicts of the government so you go to jail. Al Capone didn’t go to prison for all of the people he allegedly killed. He went to prison for not paying his taxes.

4.       Any law is a binding limitation on the freedom of all of the people.

Laws, simply put, apply to us all, whether we are the current focus of them or not.

One might be tempted to think that a law which says a billionaire must be taxed at a higher rate does not apply to them. Well yes, but only to the degree that they aren’t a billionaire. If they ever become a billionaire those laws will apply to them.

But setting that argument aside for now is still the undeniable fact that if they can take money from a billionaire, why can’t they take it from you? The billionaire has billions of dollars to defend himself and his money from the government. Hell, most billionaires can afford to buy officials within the government. If the government can limit how much money he can make he can limit how much money you can make. And in taking the money from a billionaire they are making it so the billionaire can’t pay the money to you for a job well done, supposing he has the inclination.

Such is life in an open economy where the government can take whatever it wants from whoever it wants.

There are many other examples where this applies and a little bit of thought would tend to make them obvious.

5.       The basic function of government is to provide security to the people, within its zone of responsibility; so that they can be free enough practice their rights.

This is a somewhat Jeffersonian axiom. Its origin is from the Declaration of Independence quote above, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The most important words to me in this are, “to secure these rights.” Security is the most operative word here. So what does this mean? What is security in this sense?

If another country invades ours and kills a large number of people it would definitely be a violation of their right to live. Wouldn’t it? If the invading country established a rule that the survivors of the war were not allowed to do what they want with their lives it would be a violation of their liberty. Wouldn’t it? If the invading country did everything they could to make certain the people were not happy it would be a violation if their pursuit of happiness. Wouldn’t it?

That is the basic function of a valid government; with the only qualification being the assumption that it is a civilized society.

To be certain this principle extends from the highest level, as above, to the lowest local levels. Security would extend by example to the laws regarding the robbing of banks. You cannot be secure in your income if people are by force taking money from you that isn’t theirs. Can you?

And believe it or not, this leads directly into the next of my axioms.

6.       If a government does not follow the laws that apply to it there can be no security or freedom for the people whom that government is supposed to protect.

This concept goes historically back to the Magna Carta which King John of England agreed to in the year 1215. There are a lot of things that can be said about this document, the Wiki page is quite extensive, but with all of those things the important part is the understanding that even the king, as a supreme ruler, is not above the law.

Well, suppose that there is a supreme law that applies to the highest level of government that says you can’t take money or property from other people without due process? Suppose the highest government, in spite of that supreme law, decides it can take from whoever it wants, whatever it wants, for any reason it wants? Could you—who are dependent on your property and income for your life, liberty, and happiness—be secure in a society “protected” by such a government?

7.       Government abuse is when so much “security” is provided the people are no longer free to exercise their rights.

The quotes around the word security are there for a specific purpose. There are different definitions to the word; some of them imply the wrong meaning for this context. In the Encarta Dictionary referenced by this version of Microsoft Word, the word security in the sense I’m referring to is, “the state or feeling of being safe and protected.” I’m not talking about financial security, although it could be in some more extreme circumstances. I’m talking more about physical security.

If the government protects us from EVERYTHING that could happen to us, in spite of our own desires, how could we ever exercise any of our rights? I like to participate in the shooting sports. Certainly I could accidentally shoot myself in the foot. That’s just one of the potential ramifications of freedom. Bad things can happen to anybody who does anything. The only way to protect a people against them all is to enforce the doing of nothing, which by itself would lead to the destruction of anybody to whom such laws are applied.

To live is to risk something.

Do you want to shoot? Do you want to drive? Do you want to fly? Do you want to travel? Do you want to eat? Do you want your health? Do you want your income? Do you want a job? Do you want a house? All of these things imply, by their nature, a certain amount of risk, without which life would not be much worth living.

If the government provides “security” from all of the risks involved with the things that make life enjoyable, a person cannot have any rights at all.

The point of tyranny taking control is when in the name of “security” for the people, all rights are removed. In the name of “security” people would be no longer free to speak so that the government could “protect” the people from “disloyalty” to the people in charge. In order to protect the people from insurrection the personal right to arms would be ignored and revoked. In order to protect the people from secret plots against the country there would no protection for the people to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure. In order to further protect the people from covert plots, they could be compelled, using whatever force necessary, to testify against themselves. In order protect the people it would be the government, in their benevolent “wisdom” who would define the people’s rights.

8.       The more things are put under governmental control, the more potential control they exert against the freedom and rights of the people.

Another way of putting this same idea would be to say the rights of the people are inversely proportional to the power of the government beyond its basic function; as per axiom 5 that basic function is security.

I know several people who are teachers. Of course there are, rightfully so, many people who are concerned about the state of education within our country. Many of them are currently freaked out, maybe properly so, because of the person in the government who is in charge of education. Well, my sympathy is somewhat dispersed by the fact that the government, by axiom number one, is force, and it is by their own considerations the government was put in charge of education.

What does the force of government know about education? Apparently nothing. But the primary consideration of this axiom is that by ceding control of something, anything, to the government, whether it is education or any other example, puts whatever it is you want as a power directly under government control, force, and threat of law. The bottom line is that you will do whatever they want you to do rather than exercise your choice of what to do.

There are some other axioms that come later that apply to this principle. To narrow the list to a specific few would be silly because all of them rely on this point to some degree. Thus, just for the sake of example, education will come up quite a bit in the axioms to follow.

9.       Anything a government provides comes from someone else.

The government is not, nor can it ever be a charity because everything it has to offer is taken by threat of force from someone else. A charity, by definition, gathers its money by donations freely given.

This is a fundamental truth which a lot of people tend to ignore when considering what the government should do. But it is true whether it is an aircraft carrier or an education or food. Money paid out as benefits of both was taken by force of law from someone else because the government, as currently structured, does nothing to make its own money. So the freedom to have an education paid for by the government is a loss of freedom to the person who provided the money because they weren’t given the choice to not pay it.

It is a fundamental principle of the practice of accounting to balance the books. The right side of the ledger has to be included with the left side. Withdrawals have to be considered as well as deposits. If educational freedom is given to someone at the expense of someone else, the expense needs to be considered. The taxpayer has no choice.

But just as a general commentary on this let’s look at Bill Gates. Here is a man, in spite of whatever flaws he might have, who took hundreds of dollars and made it into thousands, thousands into millions, and millions into billions. Those billions provide jobs to tens of thousands of people around the world and secondary jobs to millions. He is the reason you are able to read this article right now, along with the reason I am able to write it and communicate it to you. Those billions of dollars provide billions of dollars to charitable causes around the world.

Sure, he has more money than most of us can conceive ever having a use for and the money taken from him could conceptually provide lots of benefits to other people who aren’t named Bill Gates. But I urge you to set aside that thought for the moment and consider what it costs us to use the force of government to take money from such a man. Especially when the government is composed of people who take trillions of dollars from taxpayers, turn them into billions, billions into thousands, thousands into hundreds, hundreds into nothing, and nothing into hundreds of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities.

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”—George Bernard Shaw

“But it makes slaves of them both in the end.”—Brett John Ashton

10.   Anything provided by a government cannot be considered to be a right. Corollary: The second the government tries to provide your rights you've lost them.

I’ve written about this subject plenty of times before, and will certainly write about it again, but for now just look at the preceding axiom. If your education is funded by money taken by the force of law from someone else, as a “right” of yours, how is that money not their right? Especially when it comes to you by government rules and regulations. Either you have the right to your own earnings or you don’t. If the government, by its own considerations, can take it from you or choose whether to give it to you, you don’t have the right to it. Someone else does.

If they regulate it or provide it, it is subject to their supreme considerations and cannot be a right. A right is something which under your own responsibility, you control. Anything else is not a right, but instead could generously be called an entitlement. Well, to pay for any entitlement using the government, the funding has to come by force of law from someone else. This by necessity of logic implies that it is subject to their control, not yours.

11.   The closer to its zone of responsibility the government is the more effective it is. Corollary: The further from its zone of responsibility the government is the less effective it is.

This is an easy one when you understand what I mean by zones of responsibility. The national government has as its zone, the responsibility of national issues. The state governments have as their zone, the responsibility of state issues. The local governments have has their zones, the responsibilities of local issues.

Below that is what could be called the individual level of government which would be defined as personal choice. You have the responsibility of your own decisions. The other word for this is freedom.

By the nature of people, of which all governments are composed, the most effective uses of these various levels is in conjunction with the level immediately above and below. The national government is most effective at dealing with foreign nations and states. State governments are most effective when dealing with the national level and local levels. Local governments are most effective when dealing with state governments and the individuals. Individuals are more effective when dealing with local governments.

Things go wrong when governments go more than a single level above or below. When an individual controls the national government, which controls states, localities, and people, you have a king. When the national government controls everything you have a tyranny, regardless of the specific form. The examples are as endless as you can be creative about crossing the levels of control.

Right now we have a national government obsessed with controlling individual actions. Heath care and education are currently fantastic examples of places which should be under individual control but have become national issues. Not only is such a practice a form of tyranny, even assuming the honesty of the national government, which I don’t, it would be impossible to organize in any effective manner. Look at the chaos that has ensued.

12.   The government loses its effectiveness, outside of their basic function, in direct proportion to the degree they control areas where they have no specific expertise.

Not only does the effectiveness of the government diminish as it progresses from its own zone of responsibility into others, vertically, it diminishes as it progresses laterally.

Why is an organization whose primary concern is national security in charge of space exploration? Health care, again? Education? Energy? Social Security? Or any of the other among the plethora of things under their control? From where does the expertise to control everything under the sun come from? Why is there this assumption that whatever they decide for anything is the best possible thing?

How is it that we have become a society where the bona fide experts of any given field are not in ultimate control of it; trusting the guidance of such fields to genuine amateurs, at their highest level? Would you ask your mechanic to perform dental surgery on you? Would you ask your third grade teach to pilot an aircraft? Well then, why would you ask your professional security agency to educate your children, regulate your doctors, explore space, or collect money for your retirement?

Sure, the government has the ability to use force to gather large sums of money, but that does not give them any expertise in the field they are gathering it for. Nonetheless, if you want that money you, as an expert, have to bow to the king who gathered it for you. Just be certain that he will use the leverage of the money received by you, to control your actions within that field.

13.   All people within the government inherit the power of their predecessors.

You trusted President Obama with your health care? Congratulations! You’ve given that same power to President Trump!

Are you feeling happy about that? Some would say yes and others would say no. I would say hell no! This goes for everything under the sun that the government does—from national security to what kind of light bulbs they will let you have. You would do well to lose forever the idea that, “President [fill in the blank] would never use his power like a tyrant would!” Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t. The point is you don’t know if the next president would or not.

14.   Government is not the people whom they represent or protect.

I keep hearing people say, “we should do this,” or “we should do that,” when discussing politics. That’s fine as long as “we” are properly defined. When it comes to the government never lose sight of the fact that it is “they should do this” or “they should do that” on our behalf. This makes them by definition, not the same thing as us.

The government is not the people. The people are not the government. The words, “government of the people, by the people, for the people” are some of the worst political words I’ve ever heard anywhere. Sure, they make you feel good, but they also make no logical sense. The government is separated from the people, by their own election or appointment, for the purpose of providing security to the people. They are authorized by the people, to act on the people’s behalf, using powers that the people do not inherently have as individuals. This is a distinctly different thing than having the government and the people the same thing; which would essentially be the theoretical basis for communism. And just in case anybody has any doubt, let me be perfectly clear; Abraham Lincoln was one of the most radical liberals to ever hold the presidency.

15.   The considerations of being a part of the government do not supersede human nature.

All people in government behave as any person normally would; given the specifics of their circumstances and bent of nature. A person is not made any more virtuous, or less so, simply by the fact of their holding a public office. You are not being led by anybody with any kind of superhuman power. People are people wherever you find them, and that includes within the government.

The reason I mention this is simple. There are many who seem to believe that if Big Business, that is to say, rich corporations, are allowed to have their free reign, the country would be overrun by greed. Maybe so, but really, what’s the difference? Power through profit is still power, whether it is controlled by the people of business or government makes very little difference. One thing to be said though is that at least corporations have to provide you with something of value in order to earn it. The government just takes it from you and gives it to other people to buy their votes.

But even when the government is operating like it should it would do us all well to understand that there is nothing automatically right about a decision just because it came from the government. In fact, they can be quite wrong at times.

16.   The sanity of a government is directly proportional to the sanity and education of the people of a country.

Does it seem like the government is kind of insane at times? Guess what, we elected them. It’s our fault. When we allow the uneducated to vote, or the insane to vote, we don’t get the best representatives of our society. We get at best the average. If the electorate is uneducated we get uneducated representatives in the government. If the electorate is composed of criminals we get criminals in the government. If the electorate is misinformed we get misinformed representatives. If the electorate were brilliant and prosperous we would get brilliant and prosperous representatives. That’s what an election is; an agreement among the average of the people who vote.

A people, any people, who have any government, always have the leaders that represent their state of mind. The German people backed Hitler. The Soviets backed Stalin. The Chinese back Mao. The Iraqis backed Saddam Hussein. True, not all of them did (and they were the ones to suffer because of it) because there are outliers in any group of people, but as an average there was enough support within the people of these nations to keep the tyrants in power. No tyrant can stand on his own without people who will follow his insane edicts.

17.   Large numbers of people provide no protection from an insane government.

This is almost a corollary of the previous axiom but it still needs some things said about it.

I’m often told that if a tyrant takes over the country, we are a democracy, we voted him in and so we can just vote him out. Simple, right?

Well, no. It’s not a democracy, it’s a republic. With that said a large number of people would blindly support anybody. I’ve seen videos of women swooning for Adolf Hitler. Google it. They’re there.

Tyrants gain support of people who help them become tyrants. Tyrants, by definition, do not follow the rules of a republic or a democracy. They kill people who don’t support them. That’s why they are tyrants. You can’t just vote them out and the people who supported making them tyrants would still follow them if you tried. The cult of personality factor is huge within such a populace, and the cult like following wouldn’t listen to your reasoning anyway. They’d just report you as insane.

There is only one protection from an insane government and that is to not give them enough power to harm you.

18.   In terms of governmental control, the natural considerations of freedom and equality are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Corollary: Freedom cannot exist in the presence of enforced equality.

Aaaahhh! Freedom! Everybody wants to be free, right?

Aaaahhh! Equality! Everybody is equal, right?

There is a problem though. If everybody is free there is no way possible that they could be equal. It might not seem so but these two things, in terms of governmental control, are opposites to the degree that they are mutually exclusive of each other.

People by their nature are different. For example, I play guitar. Eddie Van Halen also plays guitar. This does not mean that I’m as good as Eddie. I can’t play nearly as fast or nearly as well. Eddie is a superlative guitar player which means he’s going to make more money doing it than I will. That’s a natural thing. Our natural differences give us our relative and varied degrees of success, or failure.

What would be unnatural would be if I petitioned the government to force Eddie to slow down and give his extra notes to me, along with his excessive income. We could call it, “Note Neutrality,” or some such thing. That way I would be equal to Eddie Van Halen in terms of guitar, but I would still be better looking. So maybe the government could take some of his extra money and get his face fixed up so he looks like me.

We could have the government force everybody to be equal, by law, or we could just let people be free to explore their differences and enjoy their differing potentials. The thing is, if we were to have the government force everybody to be equal, they would not bring the supposed bottom of society up to equality with the top. It is much, much easier to bring the few at the top down to the bottom. And that’s what they would do. It may be kind of cynical to point this out but nobody is more equal than slaves, unless they are dead.

Were I to be given the choice of freedom or equality, I would choose freedom, even if I were fated to be toward the lower end of society because of it. It’s a no-brainer. If the government automatically caps the top performers to keep them equal to the bottom ones there is no freedom to succeed at anything. Thus, there is also no freedom to fail.

Happiness, in part, comes from making choices about what we want to do with our lives and seeing the outcome of those choices come to fruition. The more choices the government takes off the table in supposed equality for all, the less potential for happiness there is.

None of this excludes the one valid equality that the government is supposed to enforce. If I am called to show up in court the laws that are applied to me should be equally applied to anybody else. That is the only place on Earth that we should be considered equal.


Note: These axioms represent my thinking at whatever time I reviewed them last. As initially published they may be somewhat embryonic, and thus, are subject to occasional revision. As always I am willing to consider differing viewpoints.

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