Bridges fall, wars are stalemated, services run in the red, pot holes prevail, dams leak, steam pipes explode, transit trains collide and the American people cry for more government “oversight”. How much evidence is necessary for citizens to realize the answer to better performance cannot proceed from political hacks intent on reelection, arbitrary power and playing flip flop behind the podium? There is not nor has there ever been any organization that could be all to everyone. To posit the idea that an elected government could fulfill such a role is the height of naivete’. The reasons are quite simple and are spelled out below.
The first reason the government cannot do a good job of running everything is it has a limited function. No one supposes a plumber can be a landscape architect simultaneously yet whenever a situation becomes evident that a solution is needed we turn to the government to legislate and enforce a “perfect” solution. Government was not created to fulfill the ocean of wishes citizens could come up with. The material needs of people are satisfied primarily by the practice of trade. Trade requires suppliers not redistribution agents. Trade requires freedom to adjust to the market demands. Trade does not thrive on bundles of restrictions and edicts that confound the process of trade. Trade is disrupted by excessive taxes, regulations that confuse and restrict, and bureaucratic decisions that are arbitrary and ill considered.
The second reason the government cannot do a good job of running everything is the fact that the government is made of humans operating under edicts without any special expertise, ability to produce or special insight. A government employee operates under a different incentive program than the private employee. The private employee must act to seek repeat business. The government employee has customers that have no alternative but to seek services at any given agency as the government holds a monopoly on its services such as the Post Office, Amtrak, Driver’s License issuance, etc, etc.
The third reason the government cannot do a good job of running everything is the fact that the government deals exclusively with force and compelling citizens . The government doesn’t say, “ Take it or leave it”. The government says,” Either take it or there will be penalties,” For instance, if you should decide to opt out of the universal Health Care system of Massachusetts you will be fined. Ask yourself, “ if this is so good why should I have to participate and what will it hurt if I don’t?” The government in this case is requiring your participation because it fears you might choose other alternatives to spend your earnings on. This freedom of choice has been eliminated. The alternative of self insurance is no longer an option. Your health is now the business of the government whether you want it to be or not.
The fourth reason the government cannot do a good job of running everything is the fact that all endeavors require funds, allocations and priorities. Placing priorities into the prerogative of political favorites, pressure group influence and whimsical politicians is a sure way to end up with bridges that are improperly maintained, levees that are built and forgotten, roads that do not have funds to be safely maintained, parks that are insecure, dirty and harbingers of crime. The government does not seek profit but the fine line between profit and loss called non-profit. This line is never clearly defined and is simply an imaginary line that operates on the notion that you can spend whatever you can manage to get. Thus the Post Office and Amtrak and multitudes of government “enterprises” steadily operate in the red, constantly raise prices and live off the mistaken notion that deficit spending has no day of reckoning. The current state of Venezuela with its hyper-inflation , rationing and starvation which was seen in the Weimar Republic prior to the rise of Hitler should be example enough of what too much government eventually leads to.
The fifth reason government cannot do a good job of running everything is the fact that it stifles the agencies and individuals that can. The oil companies could supply us with all the oil and gasoline we need if the government didn’t restrict them from drilling in oil rich regions, make building refineries practically impossible and restrict their capital accumulation via heavy taxation. When innovation occurs , such as in the software field, the government doesn’t have any expertise to require the innovator to meet specific standards. Only after the profits begin does the government begin to see that it can get a piece of the action by interfering and regulating. It is not government that gives us new ideas, products or services. The government only steps in when there is profit which the government has determined must be tapped even though it has contributed nothing.
The government deals with force and enforces its edicts by force. This makes it a different kind of entity than one that seeks voluntary participation and trade. This means it must be limited to those instances where force is a component. When a person tries to force another person this is a job for government. When a government tries to force a person this is a job for self regulation of government or else tyranny is the end result. Government can only be a force for good if it takes upon itself to avoid being a perpetrator of force on its innocent citizens. If it passes laws that makes criminals of certain classes of citizens it has lost its objectivity. If it makes success impossible in the world of trade it has lost its objectivity. If it believes it can enter any commercial endeavor and manage it better than the private citizen it has entered the world of fantasy and is pursuing a path to destruction.
This is not the view of government that is taught in government subsidized learning institutions for if it was the government would not be in the education field at all. It would not encourage the preaching of omniscient government. It would not see the production of clones ranting for more and more government interference in the lives of individuals. It would not be eager to muddle up the workings of business with contradictory edicts, chocking taxes and unlimited ongoing promises that could never be fulfilled. It would be a fitting protector of the economy that is necessary for the prosperity of all including necessary government services such as the police , the armed services and the courts. The barnacles of the educational, entitlements and antitrust would be scrapped and forever banned from the purview of legislative interference. The government would restrict itself to limited activities, limited funds and limited scope. It would recognize the futility of micro-management of all facets of the economy and individual lives. It would be the necessary adjunct to a country of freedom. The Constitution fails to be a constitution ( i.e. a limit of what the government can do) when it is not given absolute top priority in limiting the scope of government. An ignored constitution, a constitution that is misinterpreted is a constitution in name only and doesn’t serve its function of limitation on the government. This was the intent of the founding fathers and it is the only way the government can function without sliding into tyranny and chaos.
Ignoring the role of government leads to the mistaken notion by politicians that they are able to handle all the issues of the country because that is what their constituents want of them. This is a pompous overreaching impossible idea that is doomed to failure. It releases the incompetent to seize power and dictate further impossibilities. Thus the failures noted at the beginning of this article are perpetuated and progress begins to deteriorate.