Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Fundamental Problem With Government

More and more, I am becoming convinced that the fundamental characteristic of government is that it cannot change its mind, cannot retreat, cannot cut spending. Why is this?

Well, obviously it issues out of the very nature of government, which I define as:
An armed minority, occupying territory and taxing the inhabitants thereof to reward its supporters.
The point of this definition is that it covers every government from a criminal gang in an inner city, to a guerrilla group in the hills, to a modern national welfare state.

Now, as British politician Norman Tebbit argues, it is probably a good idea for a government to do a little more than that. If it has good laws to encourage enterprise, a stable currency, good roads, etc., this enhances its power and keeps the people from forming a head of rebellion.

But the basic thing that every governing class understands is defending its territory, rewarding its supporters, and getting the revenue to fund those two vital tasks.

Notice the basic parameters of this situation. The governing class needs that revenue, else the supporters may start to get restless. But the way to maximize that revenue is to promote a healthy, growing economy that throws off revenue like a dog shaking itself after a swim.

So the sensible thing for a cunning ruling class would be to limit the amount of revenue spent on the supporters, for this one very good reason:

If things go south, then where is the money going to come from to reward the supporters?

Hello Venezuela. Venezuela once had a prosperous economy founded on its oil resources. But the Chávez regime decided to ramp up the rewards to its supporters by looting its oil industry. The policy looked like political gold for a while, and every lefty in the world cited Venezuela as an example of social justice and redistribution.

Yet now Venezuela is a basket case; its population lost an average of 20 pounds each last year, and its economy has dissolved into hyperinflation. What went wrong?

Quite simply, the government promised more to its supporters than it could deliver. One fine day eevil American frackers, no doubt supported by the CIA, flooded the world with cheap oil and natural gas, and the price of oil dropped by 50 percent. Suddenly the Venezuelan government could not afford to reward its supporters as they had become accustomed.

Now if the Venezuelan government had been a business it would have declared bankruptcy, stiffed the shareholders, and paid the bondholders 25 cents on the dollar. And the workers would have found jobs elsewhere and the equipment and factories would have been sold off to other businesses.

But government isn't a business, so the Venezuelan government inflated the money supply, controlled wages and prices, seized businesses, jailed its opponents and armed its supporters and sent them out into the streets.

From this textbook case of national self-immolation you can see that there are three things a government cannot do.

A Government Cannot Admit It Was Wrong. I think this is because the real job of a government is to lead the nation in war, and a war leader cannot admit his doubts and mistakes. He must lead and inspire the nation to work and fight for the inevitable victory. Therefore,

A Government Cannot Change When Things Go Wrong. The basic fact of existence is that it is one thing after another. Whether you are a housewife or a CEO, things go wrong and you have to fix things and apply the lessons learned. But government cannot admit that things have gone wrong, except to blame them of saboteurs and wreckers, and therefore cannot seem to change.

A Government Cannot Cut Spending When Things Go Wrong. Check my definition above. The basic government program, indeed the only program, apart from defending the borders, is to reward the supporters. How can the government cut the rewards to the supporters? Chances are the greedy pigs would start looking for another armed minority to promise them the rewards withdrawn by the present armed minority.

What is the meaning of the three catch-phrases above? They tell us that the only business of government is war. If you are fighting a war then you cannot admit things are going wrong, because then people would start to lose heart and wonder if the war is really worth it. But that would defeat the whole purpose of the war, which is to win it, come what may. Then, if the government cannot admit that its war is going wrong, it cannot admit it when it sensibly changes strategy after the inevitable disasters and reverses of a war. And the government certainly cannot reduce spending on the war and its soldiers, not until the last coin from under the last mattress has been spent on furnishing and supplying the armed forces in the march to victory.

See how this notion tells us that the whole welfare state culture is horribly mistaken?

First, pensions. It is pretty obvious that the current pension model is broken. Our Social Security model was designed in the 1930s when the average life expectancy was 60-something instead of the present 70-something. But it is politically impossible to adapt the program, because people that have paid in all their lives demand the full benefit. Government cannot admit that there is a problem with Social Security, cannot admit it needs to be changed, and cannot bring itself to tell people that their benefits are going to be cut.

Social Security needs to be privatized, so that the pensioning of our senior citizens can constantly change and adapt to new realities. But that won't happen until it is completely broken.

Obviously the same thing applies to health care. The provision of health care is an immensely complicated affair, and obviously needs to constantly adapt as problems arise, and as new technology, new techniques, new understandings about disease and ageing appear. But government is incapable of acting except in response to the needs of organized political interests. And the central issue in any change becomes what to do about the people that might lose their benefits.

In education the notion, over a century ago, was probably to spread literacy. Then it became training factory workers. Today? Yes, just what is the point of today's government education system? Inquiring minds would like to know. But the teachers and administrators demand that we should continue the current system without diminution.

And then welfare. We know that it is a disaster, but the Democrats cannot agree to change it because its recipients and its administrators are their supporters, and the purpose of a government is to reward its supporters.

When the next civilization arises out of the ruins of our own, I hope that its founders will assert that no collective task, except defense, should be assigned to government. Because look what happened to "Western Civilization."

This is not to say that everyone should be "thrown upon the market" without mercy. Not at all. I am just saying that there are plenty of ways to perform "collective" tasks without doing them with government. And I am saying that government is the last place to look if you are searching for mercy.

No doubt, as the #WeBelieve yard sign says, "Kindness is Everything." But Government is Force, and that is all it is.

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