Sunday, January 4, 2009


It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external not internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. James Madison, Wednesday, February 6, 1788

Common sense teaches us two things: That the means employed for a task should be appropriate for that task and that the task undertaken is appropriate to do. The first duty of society is to decide what tasks are appropriate for government. The second duty of society is to structure the government so that its power is proportionate and limited for those tasks.

Limiting and defining the scope of federal government was the founder's intention when they established the Constitution. The Constitution was a document applicable to the federal government whose sole purpose was to describe government's structure and enumerate its duties. Anything not listed as a task for the federal government was prohibited and regarded as a state issue. The reason it was designed this way was because the authors were aware that the greatest danger to liberty was excessive power centralized in the federal government. Today the federal government has grown many times larger than what was ever envisioned and its duties extend far beyond the scope outlined within the Constitution. Why this has occurred is not relevant, what we must consider are the consequences of this change and what, if anything, should be done about it.

What is wrong with a benevolent king? A king that is just and fair would be great. Society would enjoy all the benefits of an efficient and competent administration without any of the burdens of bureaucracy. The problem as we all know is that the king is not accountable to anyone. If the king one day decides to no longer be so benevolent, then society has a big problem. The natural solution to this problem is to establish democracy where everyone has a voice in the administration. But this is not utopian either. What if the voice of the majority mutes the voice of the minority? What recourse does the minority have?

No government, whether administered by one man or all of them, is immune to the possibility of abuse. The problem lies in the fact that government is administered by men and men are imperfect. The danger you face with the king as well as the mob is not the structure of government, but that of unlimited arbitrary power in the hands of imperfect beings.

Limiting the scope of the government is implausible. The fact that the role of the government has expanded as much as it has should indicate that people want government to be active in trying to improve their lives. We take this as a given and it is not our policy to try to preverse the role of government. It is our policy to educate citizens about the danger of too much power in the hands of government (people like you and me) and to accomplish the tasks of government in a way that is the least dangerous to the liberty of all citizens.

The best way to limit power is to disperse it. An example of this are the three branches of the federal government. The idea behind splitting up the executive, legislative, and the judicial power of government is to provide checks and balances so no individual branch become too powerful and abusive. Unfortunately the current system is destined to fail. When government becomes involved in every aspect of our lives, partisanship ensues. It does not matter that there are three competing players when they are all on the same team. What we have today is a desperate power struggle between two factions fighting for control of all three branches of the federal government.

We advocate Federalism. Governmental power should be dispersed by asserting it at the proper level necessary for each task. We believe that issues like national defense, immigration, and foreign trade should be handled at the federal level. Issues like health care, social security, and the minimum wage should be handled at the state level. The advantage to doing this should be obvious, when the federal government advocates a policy, that policy affects the entire nation. If you disagree with that policy there is nowhere to run or hide other than leaving the country. The policy may be a bad one and instead of affecting a limited segment it affects everyone. When the scope of government increases, the mistakes increase as well. In addition, because we are a large country those who implement the policy will be far removed from those affected. Even if it was granted that there were some efficiency gains from eliminating redundancies in administration that is a small reward for such a huge risk.

By allowing the states to handle most issues what we are doing is creating a political market where each state competes with its own policies. States that are successful will force those that are unsuccessful to change or lose citizens. People have freedom to choose where to live. They are customers shopping for a political landscape that suits their needs. Just as we discourage monopolies in business we should discourage them in government.

The fallacy behind the idea of centralized government is that those in charge are above humanity. In order for it to work one has to believe that government is composed of angelic beings that are not swayed by pride, envy and insecurity. One has to believe in the all knowing benevolent shepherd.

We do not believe in this mythical "politician." While many good people serve this country, they are not above humanity. They can and will make mistakes and when power is unlimited the cost of these mistakes is dramatic. Therefore, despite the good intentions of well meaning people it is our belief to promote a system of government that accomplishes the goals for which it exists while mitigating the damage that can be done.


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