“Bad” people make “good” government?
Posted by Mike Maharrey
A professor at Valencia College in Florida recently asked his students to write an essay describing their vision of the “American Dream.” According to the professor, more than 80 percent of his students indicated that they believed the government providing them stuff was part of that dream. Pres. Obama came up with a whole campaign theme called “Julia” to tap into this notion.
One student wrote:
“As human beings, we are not really responsible for our own acts, and so we need government to control those who don’t care about others.”
For the sake of argument, let’s accept the student’s first premise. Yes, people tend to duck responsibility. Humans possess flawed character. Theologian John Calvin went as far as to describe it as “total depravity.” The comic strip character Calvin proved the point on the pages of newspapers across the country for many years. We often don’t act with compassion. We tend toward greed. And we like to use power to further our own agenda at the expense of others – if we can get away with it.
A dim view of human nature indeed, but one that reason and observation makes at least credible.
But if people really fail to act responsibly on a regular basis, does it follow that we need a big, strong government to “control” them and “make them do the right thing?”
Only if you accept the ridiculous notion that people elevated to government positions suddenly and mystically shed their corrupt nature.
I mean, really? You want to argue that human nature is so corrupt that it must be controlled, so we are going to hand a small group of those corrupt people a whole bunch of power, throw in some guns and say, “There! Problem solved!”?
Wow. Talking about logic falling off the tracks.
Bad people make bad government.
Look y’all – the same evil dysfunctional human beings you want to control and fix walk the halls of government! Giving them power, guns and jails, then tasking them with making the world a more fair and wonderful place – not a good plan. It’ll be “fair and wonderful” all right. “Fair and wonderful” for them, their friends and their favored voter blocks. Everybody else -not so much.
If we need government, then we must always remember that those elevated to government positions do not possess some magical quality that makes them more benevolent, caring and selfless than the general population. A pixie doesn’t fly over Washington D.C. on a regular basis and sprinkle fairy-dust over the the Capitol to make our government “servants” selfless. They are as self-serving, greedy and power hungry as the general population you want them to “control.” In fact, probably more so. Some say “power corrupts.” I would argue power draws the corrupt like discarded crumbs draw roaches.
So if we really believe government necessary, we the people must control it. Not the other way around.
Authority must remain decentralized and widely distributed. We all laud the checks and balances, and the separation of powers built into the federal government as a stroke of brilliance. But few understand that the framers also intended for the state governments to serve as a check on federal power. And I’ll take it a step further. Counties and cities must serve as a check on state power. And the people must serve as a check on all governments.
If we can’t depend on people to do the right thing, we certainly can’t count on a government made up of people to do the right thing. And the bigger and more powerful that government gets, the more dangerous it becomes.
“In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” – Thomas Jefferson
Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of '98 - Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He also maintains the blog, Tenther Gleanings.