We pay taxes on property. We pay them on income. We pay them on sales. We pay them to live. We pay them when we die. Let’s face it – the government owns us.
What the people of the United States have is not a government of, by, or for the people. Ronald Reagan’s dictum — “We are a nation that has a government —not the other way around” — has been placed on its head by condescending elites who know neither self-restraint nor common decency.
Government, whose production consists of coercive regulations, unnecessary wars, exorbitant taxes, and absurd inefficiency, exists for the benefit of those in power and at our expense. Its machinery is given life by capital, which represents our blood and sweat. It is driven by power and lubricated by greed.
The government is clearly its own interest as is any for-profit corporation. Yet a corporation must create and produce desirable goods and services in order to remain in business. The government has no such constraints. It has guns and fiat money to forcibly sustain its unwanted operations.
This nature of government was not lost on those who founded this nation. Precautions were taken to forestall the government’s transformation into a weapon to be wielded for the benefit of an exclusive political elite.
But a government is ultimately made up of self-interested men, who may narrowly pursue personal power at the long-term expense of the conditions that provide them such power. This is the root cause of the rise and decline of civilizations. Self-interest, when unguided by reason, is corrupted.
What is government? At its best, it is a resource that promotes the conditions that allow men to freely lead their lives – to create, to produce, to trade the fruit of their labor in kind facilitated by capital. The conditions of a free people are entirely encapsulated by the security of persons and property.
At its worst, government is a tool of men to force people to do or not do particular actions. The more particular the law, the more liable it is to be the instrument of particular interest. Over time, corrupt politicians tend to enact laws that benefit their personal interest, and to suppress behavior that threatens such interest.
The laws proliferate as the government becomes more corrupt. It has been estimated that there are now over two million laws in the United States. It is such a time, to paraphrase Ayn Rand, that it is impossible for a good man to live without being a criminal. As Frederic Bastiat observed:
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim – when he defends himself – as a criminal.
If government is a tool of men, then which men are most fit to rule? This is the question on which the fate of a people rests. Only the elites and their dependents believe that the answer is an aristocracy. The great majority of the American people believe the answer is the people, in other words, a democracy. These are wrong answers. Self-government, or government of the individual, is the most superior form of government. But this is also the most precarious form and the most difficult to maintain, as it requires reason, morality, and self-sufficiency. Unsurprisingly, these qualities are enemies of the corrupt government.
The symbiotic relationship that perverts a society arises when the people’s capacity for self-government deteriorates as politicians abuse the law to paternalistically accrue power and glory. The capacity for a system of laws to be sustained is undermined, and eventually the entire rotting edifice of the structure collapses.
Crisis provides social engineers the license to complete their reconstruction of society to their own benefit; and indeed, one finds that the authoritarian kernel of the transformative state had been embedded in the society generations before, like an acorn that grows ever-so-slowly into a mighty oak, and whose branches are clipped to form the fasces of despotic power for a tyrant.
A complete despotism is rarely, if ever, imposed against the will of a people. The sad fact of history is that authoritarian governments arise when people are prepared by the government to desire subjugation and are driven by necessity to beg for sustenance at the feet of their masters.
The hallmark of a government that is undermining the capacity of a people for self-government is the altruistic claim that the people must be saved from themselves. Such a government, through taxation and welfare, remedies victimhood by creating more victims. By siding with the failures of the society over those who succeed on their own, the government incentivizes and multiplies failure.
A great civilization filled with great men is thus overtaken by those of the mob, who have surrendered their lives to the state. Those whose lives are empty are filled up by those whose lives are overflowing until the life-blood of a society is drained. A free people is corrupted from within and then enslaved.
It may be said in Biblical terms that the devil does not destroy, he desecrates. Lucifer takes that which is beautiful and puts it in the service of evil. Just as the devil has no capacity for creation, those who seek to undermine our nation are not destroyers, they are corrupters. If shot through that prism, only the light of truth can vanquish them. And only morality, reason, and adherence to principle can sustain us.