Why I Am Thankful For Wasteful Government
By: Barry Belmont

Government, by its nature, must seek to expand itself. A government must give reasons for its existence, it must point to problems that it wishes to solve. In so far as many problems now facing us have their origins with government intervention, we can see truly that this is a wonderful time to live in.

As much as I may point to the contrary (which I am prone to do) government is not inhabited by bad people. Sure, most are men of impotence, men of “the public good,” men with little noble virtues and even less knowledge to act on them, but I truly believe that most men in government become involved because they feel a genuine desire to help their fellow man. I would be willing to say that all government officials do not start out their careers with the hopes of “seizing power” or of controlling others, rather they want to make the world a “better” place. Unfortunately for them, their plan must necessarily backfire because they are individuals who care above all else about themselves and those closest to them.

Let me first explain how I view the political situation of America as simply as I can. Certain men are elected by some sort of majority to have agreed upon powers over everybody. It is expected that these certain men will represent the will of this majority. The will of the majority is betterment for itself (or this is assumed because the will of the individuals who make up this majority is betterment for their individual selves). Thus the men elected will wish to make the individuals better by the means granted to him by the majority. And while this may sound all well and good, the tricky bit comes when means selected for the general “public” are applied to the specific.

Take for instance the past election and the selection of the president. It is hoped that what the president promises for the country will be enacted, at least in part. But the problem is, which parts? by whom? where? when? And the state level, how will these initiatives be enacted? In the county, what needs to be fixed? On the city level, what is there to do? Certainly there is plenty to do even at the localest of levels: my neighborhood street could use a new paving, my block could use some new paint, the city could use better trash removal, new streetlights, better sewer drainage, cheaper electricity, better education, better courts, less crime (generally meaning more police). The city government needs more funding for these things, but I as a citizen want to pay less taxes. I suppose I’m selfish, but who doesn’t want more stuff, more benefits, at a lower cost? Quite a dilemma.

And this is just the city/county level, what happens when we start talking about the state level? Cheaper travel, better higher education, good insurance rates, low cost of living, all things we want the government to do simply because we want more stuff for less effort. There are few people who would rather work hard for a miserable life than work little for a great one. This is what the voting populace is assuming when it elects its representative: the government has the power and the will to accomplish what we want accomplished with the only effort coming from us being the minor nuisance of voting. But something from nothing is as valid here as anywhere and the lunch we thought was free will be paid for by us with a handsome tip to the waiter who spilled our drink and gave us the wrong food.

So we’ve got all these cities with all their own issues in states with all their own issues in a big country with all its own issues in a world that’s got its own issues. Not just political or economic issues, but ethical, moral, religious, social, psychological, scientific, and environmental concerns are all relevant to a lot of somebodies somewhere. Who decides which concerns are more valid, relevant, solvable? The tentative answer generally ascribed to (at least in this country) is that a group of men concerned will vote and whatever the majority decides, such will be the case and this will be corrected by another group of men known as the government.

But just as most people do not have just a single concern, a government cannot be bogged down caring about a single enterprise. A government must attempt to solve issues of education, defense, justice, sanitation, infrastructure, and many more because these are the issues for which there exist enough people with enough influence to convince someone to get something done. Lobbyists, constituents, personal friends, ultimately it makes no difference who does the pulling of the strings: the more strings that keep the marionette dancing the harder it will be to control. Imagine it this way, everybody wants to play the puppet master, everybody has their own opinion on what is important about it: how it dances, how graceful it is, what the eyebrows do, how the hands moves, the color of its clothes, should their be facial hair, what play should it perform in, what kind of music, the instruments that music should be played on. How can such a small doll really show all the intricacy that everybody wants to show? Make a bigger puppet! With a bigger stage! Ridiculous? Well, kinda, but so is the government.

Sure, some of the lines might get crossed and maybe it won’t all be as perfect as we’d like, but it still gets the job done and look at all the stuff we get! I mean, even the eyelash polisher’s brush maker now has a job working for this puppet. The dirty little secret behind all of it is the cost. Where is the money for this monstrously extravagant doll coming from? Well in just world, the cost would be paid for voluntarily. However, in this world, the cost will be taken through a physical coercion taxation. Taxes are when the government takes money from you under the threat of harming you (imprisonment, etc) for the delusion of helping you (all these wonderful programs!). The things it gives you are things they assume would not be exchanged for voluntarily: if they could be, they would be without the government, if they couldn’t be, then there is no reason for their existence. The price of the puppet will increase with the size of the puppet: labor and materials must be paid for with other labor and materials. You don’t get something from nothing.

The price of an object is a general measure of the effort that went in to making it, thus the higher the price the more labor expended. If something can be made cheaper, that means in the end less money will give one more products. It’s the “less effort-more stuff” mantra that we stated at the beginning. But the price of this puppet will be a little more coming from the government than it would be in a free market. The cost of being able to carry out the threats, the cost of “organizing” the labor, and the cost of inefficiency imposed by a forced monopoly (which includes sloppy labor and shoddy materials since the people involved have no incentive to do well: they will get payed the same for a “good” job as well as a bad. Remember “there are few people who would rather work hard for a miserable life than work little for a great one.”) all factor in and show that people do not benefit from government. Rather it seems that unnecessary work comes from trying to sustain the leviathan that is the State.

All all th
is unnecessary work is hidden in taxes. People work and are payed for their work. The government says that because you live in “their” land that they are entitled to a piece of your labor. The taxes that pay the wages of the government are taken under their implicit threat of gun point. What distinction then is there between them and the basest of criminals? By taking away the fear the government has over its citizens it rids itself of the only sway it has. No one but the most naive still believes in the benevolent government. That’s the nugget of truth: there must be fear of the government to sustain the government.

However, the government can’t survive on fear alone or eventually the people would lash out: when you’ve got nothing to lose, you’ve got everything to gain. So what the government does is try to show that without it, people would be impossibly out of luck. Who would make the roads, who would provide the justice system, the military defense? Who would make affordable housing possible, eliminate discrimination, bolster the minimum wage? If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. In order to make these things issues, the government must step in and make the problem. Civil rights wouldn’t have been an issue if the government hadn’t instigated the problem. Pollution wouldn’t be an issue if the government had upheld property rights. Education wouldn’t be half the problem it is without the government mandated public education. Thus the government must show that there are problems that only it can solve, in order to stay relevant. But more and more problems are increasingly the result of government: the economy, the war, the roads. All the government.

And that’s what I love about it. The problems that we experience in our country today are not of our own doing. It is not from our effort to hold down a job, pay a mortgage, or strive for an education that’s shooting this country to hell. It is the growing, inefficient government. Spinning our wheels only makes sense, but with the weight of government, I am surprised we are able to make it anywhere at all.

So thank you government for taking my money without my consent, thank you for providing me with services that I don’t want, thank you for providing legislation that bogs me down, thank you for not caring about me personally, thank you for giving your friends favors that they could not come to by legitimate means, thank you for your remarkable inefficiency in every avenue you wish to purse, thank you for being not only untrustworthy, but reliably so. Thank you most of all for every injustice you foist upon the public, for every bit of apathy we feel when you do something dumb, for every time you are indifferent to the direction you wish to steer this country as long as you are the one at the wheel. I am thankful because every time you show just how pointless you are, another person questions your legitimacy. Every bad decision you make, every increase to your girth, every thing you do is leading to your inevitable collapse. Through out time we have seen your cleverer and cleverer ways to show that we need you…but the truth has a way of interrupting that sad delusion: we don’t need you. I am thankful because the more you show yourself, the more we get to see of you, the more we get to see how unnecessary you really are.

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