Politicians and Power
In the midterm elections of Nov. 7, 2006, the Democrats scored a net gain of seats in Congress even though they did not hold the office of president. This trend has been historically true since World War II when Republicans picked up seats under Democratic Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton. Similarly, under Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, Democrats gained seats.
This historical fact tends to indicate that the American people are dissatisfied with the federal government and apparently don't want whatever party is in power in the White House to also be in control of Congress.
These "Never-to-be-Forgotten Principles of Government" by former Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne (his comments in quotes, plus my elaborations) may reflect the underlying causes of this phenomenon.
1) Government is force. "Every government program or regulation is a demand that someone do what he doesn't want to do, refrain from doing what he does want to do, or pay for something he doesn't want to pay for."
All too often, this force is used against those who have not intruded on anyone else's person or property.
2) Government is politics. "Whenever you turn over to the government a financial, social, medical, military or commercial matter, it's automatically transformed into a political issue, to be decided by those with the most political influence."
Politicians act mainly in terms of political favoritism, rather than in terms of the ultimate benefit to society.
3) You don't control government. "No law will be written the way you have in mind, it won't be administered in the way you have in mind, and it won't be adjudicated the way you have in mind."
While the purpose of laws may embrace noble intentions, they are written by politicians for political purposes, administered by bureaucrats for political purposes and adjudicated by judges appointed for political purposes.
4) Every government program will be more expensive and more expansive than anything you had in mind when you proposed it. "It will be applied in all sorts of ways you never dreamed of."
When Medicare was first created in 1965, the politicians projected the cost in 1992 would be $3 billion. The actual cost in 1992 was $110 billion. The same politicians have driven this country into a $9 trillion national debt.
5) Power will always be misused. "Give good people the power to do good and that power eventually will be in the hands of bad people to do bad."
A power base attracts those who seek to promote self-interests and control others. The more power they have, the more control they have and the more havoc they can inflict. The only way to prevent it is to limit the power of government in the first place. Giving power to politicians is like giving a bottle of gin to chimpanzees.
6) Government doesn't work. "Because government is a force, because government programs are designed to enrich the politically powerful, because every new government program soon wanders from its original purpose, and because politicians eventually misuse the power you give them, it's inevitable that no government program will deliver on the promises the politicians make for it."
Government programs almost always cost more than it would cost in the private sector, often have adverse side effects, usually have disappointing results and create vast bureaucracies that outlive their usefulness.
7) Government must be subject to absolute limits. "Because politicians have every incentive to expand government, and with it their power, there must be absolute limits on government."
These limits are already provided for in the Constitution where the primary freedom it guarantees is freedom from excessive government. The Founding Fathers were aware government was the problem, not the solution. Unfortunately, we've strayed far from the original intent based on individual freedom and individual responsibility.
Freedom is never free. Governments with too much power, in the wrong hands, become instruments of evil.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.