Many of today’s debates between statists and libertarians are argued on the grounds of efficiency. The libertarians say that when you let the government do something, you invariably get the DMV or the post office. Statists argue that a centralized public service provides better results because it can gain efficiencies of scale and because the lack of a profit incentive eliminates greed. They cite examples like NASA and the Internet to claim that government can do things that would be impossible in the private sector.

I am sympathetic to the libertarian argument on this topic, but in this essay I will argue that efficiency is not everything. Even if the statist point of view on efficiency is correct, there are still good reasons for enforcing Constitutional limits on the scope of government.

Fail Safe: The design principle that requires that the failure of part of a system will not result in the failure of the rest of the system

One thing is clear about most systems of government. When they fail, they fail catastrophically. We can see this in tyrannies around the globe and throughout history. Unique at the time, the checks and balances of our Constitutional system of government provided for fail safe protection from tyranny. Any branch of the federal government can be checked by two other branches.


Steve Palmer