LIMITED GOVERNMENT VERSUS THE TYRANNY OF THE SELFISH

Are you voting to protect the rights of your family, friends, and neighbors? Are your certain? Do you know the difference between a constitutional republic and a socialist state?

  • In a constitutional republic, the supreme power resides in the body of the citizenry, the people who have the right to vote. The constitution of a republic limits the power of the government by defining what the government — the state — is allowed to do. Thus, citizens retain the right to do anything their government is not allowed to prohibit.
  • A socialist state is a government defined by the nature of Socialism. In the socialist ideal, everything is owned by everyone, that is, collectively, and everyone has the right to vote. However, because everyone owns everything, effectively the government owns everything. Thus, citizens can only do what their government permits, and the government — the state — can do anything the “majority” permits.

Two Issues

Each of these forms of government has its pros and cons, and I have listed some of those below. What do I want to point out here? There are two issues.

The first issue has to do with giving up our independence. Benjamin Franklin expressed the thought this way.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. — Benjamin Franklin (from here)

When we accept the promises of politicians to redistribute the wealth, that is, the wealth of others and special rights, we sell them a portion of our souls. We give them the right to enslave our neighbors to our wants and needs.  This is nothing but legalized theft. Any People who condones such behavior from their government soon find itself unable to protect itself from the abuse of its leaders.

The second issue is relates to the basic problem of controlling the government. James Madison put it this way.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor 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. — James Madison (from here)

The more power and and authority we give our government, the easier it is for politicians to pit us against each other, factionalize us. This is the “beauty” of identity politics. When politicians succeed in splintering us into myriad identity groups, it then becomes possible for politicians to implement a policy that is only supported by a small minority. Each identity group, obsessed by the thought of getting its own demands fulfilled, ignores what it would otherwise regard as abuse of political power.

Pros and Cons

What are the advantages of a constitutional republic?

  • The initiative remains with the citizenry. The state is less likely to become a bottleneck that prevents things from getting done. That allows the decentralized management of the resources of a society.  Citizens can respond to the law of supply of demand (seek a profit), be generous to the downtrodden, or spend the resources under their control on their own needs and wants.
  • Citizens have the opportunity to receive the benefits of their work. That provides an incentive for productive work.
  • If the Constitution provides effective checks and balances, then rulers find it difficult to consolidate power and tyrannize the citizenry.
  • The will of the majority is more easily discerned. Because the state has relatively little power, politicians cannot make very many promises and still be taken seriously. That is, politicians find it more difficult to pit the People against each other.

What are the disadvantages of constitutional republic?

  • Because the management of the resources of a society are decentralized, it can be difficult to organize and implement large projects, especially large infrastructure projects.
  • Those who are incapacitated by poverty, age, handicaps and similar problems may not receive the help they need.
  • The constitutional limits on the power of the state can render the state unable to act when some people believe it should act.

What are the advantages of a socialist state?

  • Because the resources of the society under the direct control the state, the state can readily organize and implement large projects.
  • The state can readily reallocate resources from those have plenty to those who have unfulfilled needs.
  • The state has the power to act whenever those in charge discern the need.

What are the disadvantages of a socialist state?

  • Because the state has control over all the resources of a society, all decisions must be made by the state. Thus, the bureaucracy of the state tends to become a massive bottleneck.
  • Because the fruits of their labors have little to do with how hard they work, citizens have little incentive to work. Effectively, citizens become the slaves of the state, working only because they are punished when they do not.
  • Because state places few restraints on the authority of the rulers, tyranny by the ruling elites is almost inevitable.
  • The will of the majority can be difficult to discern. Because the state has great power, politicians can make lots of promises and still be taken seriously. Unfortunately, that can make it difficult to discern which promises get any particular politician elected.

Conclusion

Because of the nature of the pros and cons, some think we can solve the problem of government pragmatically, that there is a practical compromise between a constitutional republic and Socialism. These people forget there are unavoidable moral issues.

  • When do we have the right to tax our neighbors to support the government? Consider that when we tax someone we use the power of the state to take their wealth. Taxation requires us to threaten people with violence, the seizure of property, and jail time.
  • When do we have the right to enforce a law with the threat of violence? When our government makes a law, as citizens we confer upon the state the power to confront lawbreakers violently. People don’t happily accept fines and jail time.

Because violence is required, we should not give our government the power to force our neighbors to do something they do not want to do unless the need is dire and we have no other alternative. This is why Socialism is immoral. However, unless we behave as a moral people and voluntarily fulfill our social responsibilities we will get Socialism and eventually a tyrannical government.

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