Watching the Democratic debates over the last couple of months, it’s amazing how all the candidates are talking about having the government do more for people. Whether it’s Medicare for All, canceling student debt, handing out more money in welfare or just letting people stay in the country after they crossed the border illegally, politicians want the government to give us all more help.
Well, unless we’re preppers. Then it seems like the government switches to being as obstructive as possible. Politicians at all levels, from town selectmen up to Congress and most presidents, do everything they can to make self-sufficiency difficult.
Obamacare was the last administration’s flagship policy and it basically made it illegal to not have health insurance. There are arguments for that, but if you want to pay any medical bills when they happen, shouldn’t you have that right? Many towns have local ordinances against keeping livestock, even if it’s just a few chickens to give you eggs and occasional meat. Zoning laws can be – and are – applied to limit what you can do with your home. Want to drill your own well? You might need to allow (and pay for) inspections. And don’t forget the constant attempts to limit what sort of guns you can own.
The argument for all these laws is that the government can do things better than you can, so you should turn responsibility over to it. You’re just a citizen; you don’t know enough about health to make insurance decisions, so you should let Bernie Sanders bring in Medicare for All and the government will take charge of your health. The eggs from your own hens haven’t been through federally mandated inspections, so you shouldn’t eat them. Did the town health officer check the water from your well? And what do you need guns for? The cops will protect you from bad guys.
Well, what could possibly go wrong? I guess you could ask the residents of Flint, MI how well the government did at giving them clean water. What if you live in a rural area and the cops need an hour to respond when you report an intruder? And go take a look at a meatpacking plant then tell me government-approved food is safer for you.
It’s very obvious that there are plenty of things we’re better off doing for ourselves every day, and a whole lot more we can do for ourselves if we need to, so why won’t the government get out of the way and let us do it? This really puzzles a lot of people, but that’s because they’re looking at it from the wrong direction. The government doesn’t really care what’s best for us; it’s thinking about what’s best for the government.
The thing is I’ve been calling the government it, but really I should be saying them. The government is made up of people, and being the government is their job. If you’re a lawmaker the chances are you really like your job. You get special privileges and a pretty good income. You’re respected. Maybe most of all, you have power. If you have an idea and you can get the votes for it you can turn it into law, and everyone has to act the way you think they should. That’s a heady brew.
So, if you’re in government, you want the people to respect and obey the government. The best way to do that is to make them rely on the government.
Think about it. If people are self-reliant, and the only contact they have with the government is when lawmakers demand money from them or tell them what to do, they’re not exactly going to see the government as their friend, are they?
The only way to govern a self-reliant people is to do it lightly. Only pass laws when it’s absolutely necessary. Give people maximum freedom about how they live their lives. Keep taxes at the bare minimum needed to pay for things only the government can do. There are things only the government can do, like national defense, but despite left-wing complaints about our military budget we don’t actually spend very much on defense as a share of government spending.
Do it that way and most people won’t resent the government – but there’s a problem. Doing it this way means having a small government, and that means there won’t be many of those nice government jobs that give people access to privileges, money, and power. I don’t care about that. You don’t care about that. But all the people who work inside the Beltway care about that.
No, they want big government, because that way there are more jobs for them, their families and their friends. And the only way to get the people to accept a big government is to make as many as possible of them depend on it.
The government has two ways to make people depend on it. One is to stop them doing things then make the government the only source of those things. Law enforcement is a classic example. The government says you don’t need guns to protect yourself because the police will protect you. That’s rubbish, of course. If you hear breaking glass at 3 am you need a gun to face down a potential intruder, and you need it right there – not on a cop’s belt outside a Dunkin’ Donuts 17 miles away. So if you can’t have a gun you’ll be worried about intruders, and all you can do is vote to pay more tax, give the police department funding to hire more cops, and hope that one of them is close enough when you need protection.
That’s one way to make people dependent. The other is brutally simple – money. This country has massive financial inequality, the worst in the civilized world, and most of it’s been created by politicians. The slow, kudzu-like growth of government bureaucracy has made it harder to start a small business or be self-employed. The government likes order, predictability, big corporations with HR departments full of liberal graduates. They hate the chaos created by startups and entrepreneurs – but it’s that chaos that drives innovation and creates wealth.
So government policies help keep people poor, but that’s OK because the government has an answer for poverty. They’ll just take money from the people that have it and give it to the ones that don’t. That’s mostly what our government does now – move money from people who earned it to people who didn’t.
Mostly? You think I’m exaggerating? Nope. When you pay tax you get told the money’s needed for education, for transport infrastructure, for defense. Don’t believe it. Just 1% of federal spending goes on K-12 education. Only 3% goes on transport infrastructure. Even defense only gets 18%.
A staggering 69% – over two thirds – goes on entitlement programs. Medicare, social security, welfare, food stamps – that’s what most of your tax goes on. Giving people things for free, but never giving them freedom. Because if they had freedom they wouldn’t need the government, and we can’t have that, can we?
Henry Kissinger is famous for saying: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
Some people think that in the 60s US strategy started to deliberately destroy family farming in the US and abroad and eventually led to 95% of all grain reserves in the world being under the control of six multinational agribusiness corporations.
What are your thoughts on this?