There is something very wrong with the modern form of government. Demonstrating this is government’s inability to prevent wars, take effective steps in reducing unemployment, maintaining a stable currency, protecting individual liberties, or providing equal justice for all. In fact, there is hardly any area in which government succeeds, except in its own expansion and the oppression of its people. That is not how it is supposed to go. Government is supposed to serve the people, not the other way round.
How could things go so far wrong? Of course we can say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is also the weakness of democracy that people tend to vote for their own benefit, rather than the greatest good. Very true, but there is something more fundamental underlying the way things are structured.
Modern government consists of three main branches: legislative (law-making), judicial (law-interpreting) and executive (law-enforcing). What’s wrong with this system? It’s the accent on laws!
Laws are basically rules that tell you what to do and what not to do. They are rules that limit your independence. A preponderance of laws, too many laws limit freedom, and that is what has gone wrong. In the days of Moses there were just ten laws, instead of the thousands we have today, and people had trouble obeying even them!
There is the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law, but even lawyers don’t know all the laws and courts are needed to interpret the laws. What chances do individuals have of not inadvertently breaking any laws?
Why this concentration on laws? It must be that the purpose of government is not to serve the people, but to control them. And so it is. This is sad, but true. That’s not to say that all politicians are crooked, but that well-meaning politicians will have a hard time protecting our freedoms, because the system is rigged against them.
For a society to function properly, some ground rules are of course necessary, but the vast majority of people are basically decent folks who will do the right thing if encouraged to do so. And the society will continue to function well if the few anti-social and criminal persons are locked up, so they can’t continue to do damage.
How to fix this faulty system? In America we have a federal government, a state government in each of the fifty states, as well as county and city governments. Instead of having all these governments trying to have us all march to the same tune, it would be a good idea if the federal government just concerned itself with having good relations with the rest of the world and that the 50 states “play nice together.” That is, to settle disputes between the states and to ensure that people can travel freely from state to state, and that each state obeys the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Within these constraints, each state should be free to make its own rules, which, in turn, should deal mainly with how to interact with the federal government and with its county governments. There should be no duplication of function between the various levels of government
Only the lowest level of government should deal directly with the individuals in its area. That way, if people don’t like the officials who represent them, they can replace them quite easily. Having governments based on these principles will greatly reduce their size and cost. In fact, there would be no need for professional politicians. Congress could be made up of volunteers who meet a few times a year to scrap outdated laws and to tweak a few laws that need to be revised.
What are the chances of replacing the current broken system with a new, more effective one? Not great, but then, the pen is mightier than the sword and if enough people start thinking in the right direction, the world can become a better place.
Happy Independence Day!
Quote of the Week
Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity.
Thomas J Watson