What is "Government?"
The word "government"
can be used in different ways. We can speak of "self-government."
The owner of a business imposes a form of government on his
employees. In family, school, neighborhood association, and groups
of all kinds, there is "government." But only "the
government" ("the State") claims the right to seize
the property of others, have those who resist beaten
and raped, and kill
all those who get in the way.
George Washington is reported
to have said,
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is
force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
. . .
"Trust No One"
Some people criticize libertarians for not having enough trust
in government. John Adams wrote in 1772:
There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free
government ought to be to trust no man living with power
to endanger the public liberty."
Should libertarians have more confidence in their government?
Thomas Jefferson, 1799:
Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism. Free
government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is
jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited
constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust
with power.… In questions of power, then, let no more be heard
of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the
chains of the Constitution.
James Madison warned the people of Virginia (1799):
the nation which reposes on the pillow of political
confidence, will sooner or later end its political existence in
a deadly lethargy.
Madison added in Federalist No. 55,
[T]here is a
degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of
circumspection and distrust. . . .
Trusting government, having "confidence in
government," is un-American.
"There Oughta Be a Law!"
Actually there already is a Law. The Declaration of
Independence speaks of "the
Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
- When someone says
- "There ought to be a law!"
- he really means
- "There ought to be government
-- there ought to be vengeance --
there ought to be misery and pain inflicted on the person who
And when the government says "Mr. Smith has a right
to quality health care," that usually means that Mr. Jones
better pay for Smith's healthcare, or pain and misery will be
inflicted on Jones.
and threats of violence.
Consider this opinion from the Los Angeles Times in June
California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said at a press conference
about Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay: "I would love to
personally escort Lay to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with
a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey."'
Here's why Lockyer should be removed
from his office of public trust: First, because as the chief law
enforcement officer of the largest state in the nation, he not
only has admitted that rape is a regular feature of the state's
prison system, but also that he considers rape a part of the
punishment he can inflict on others.
Second, because he has publicly
stated that he would like to personally arrange the rape of a
Texas businessman who has not even been charged with any illegal
Lockyer's remarks reveal him to be
an authoritarian thug, someone wholly unsuited to holding an
office of public trust.
But his remarks do have one positive
merit: They tell us what criminal penalties really entail.
Contrary to some depictions of
prisons as country clubs, they are violent and terrible places.
My Name Isn't Justice, Honey,' and Shame on Lockyer, L.A.
Times, Wednesday, June 6, 2001
You pay your taxes to finance government projects which you know
are unconstitutional, wasteful, and undermine your moral values. You
pay because you know if you don't, you will be audited, harassed,
and, quite possibly, locked up with carjackers and rapists,
brutalized and sodomized in a government prison. If you decide to
stand on principle and you're willing to take the risk, your
employer will still withhold your taxes from your salary because he
knows if he doesn't he might meet "Spike" in
a government prison.
Incredibly, millions of Americans still believe that bigger
government will bring a better life.
What kind of "government" do we need in order to fully
protect "the good life?"
What is "the Good Life?"
America's Founding Fathers believed it was the enjoyment of
God-given unalienable rights:
— in other words,
| — this is man.
And in spite of the cunning of
artful political leaders,
these three gifts from God precede all human
and are superior to it.
—Frederic Bastiat, The
What is Good Government?
It is easier to say what good government is not
than what it is. Good Government does not violate our
God-given rights to Life, Liberty
and Property (also called the Pursuit
"No person shall be . . . deprived of
life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law. . . ."
—The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
When it does violate these rights, that government must be
altered or abolished.
|WE hold these Truths to be
self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the Pursuit
of Happiness, That to secure these Rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their
just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these Ends, it
is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government
Those who ratified our Constitution believed that "religion,
morality and knowledge" were "necessary for good
government and the happiness of mankind" (Northwest
Ordinance, 1787). They believed that without virtue,
the by-product of "religion, morality and knowledge," no
government could be powerful enough to maintain
social order, that is, protect our Life, Liberty
and Property. In fact, the greatest
threat to social order is often the government itself.
|We the people of the
United States, in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide
for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and
secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and
our posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of
Today our government works to destroy our
posterity, not secure the blessings of liberty for our
the globe, for millions, maybe even billions of people, the federal
government is a threat to life:
More on The Pursuit of Happiness
When the 14th amendment guaranteed "life,
liberty, and property,"
it was echoing a basic theme of our Founding Fathers, a secular
trinity, each of which is an essential component and guarantee of
the others. Life, liberty, and property--they
are like three pegs holding up a table. Remove one, and the whole
thing comes crashing down. It seems almost old-fashioned to talk
about property rights these days, but to our Founding Fathers,
property rights were part of the natural law, the self-evident
rights granted by God. Governments were instituted among men to
guarantee them, not to take them away. A man's home is his
castle--that is the foundation of civilized order, an ancient
statement of individual rights that comes down to us through
English common law. But in the last several decades, it seemed
that the Government saw a man's home as simply another source of
tax revenue. Marginal income tax rates soared as high as 75 and on
up--90 percent. They were, to use another old-fashioned term,
—President Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a White House Briefing for
Minority Business Owners, July 15, 1987, Public Papers of the
Presidents, 1987, p. 828.
If they could travel through time into the 21st Century, our
Founding Fathers would be shocked at the growth of government power
and the assault on Life, Liberty and Property.
In order to protect "the good life," we must eradicate
the entire concept of "the government."
next: First Steps to Restoring