We all love the government. Whenever I think about the government, I get this warm and gushy feeling inside, like it’s a big teddy bear ready to squeeze me with the force of one of its big brother bear hugs. But when I’m not thinking pleasant thoughts about the organization that keeps taking a large chunks out of my paycheck or writing so many laws that it’s impossible for me to actually be a law abiding citizen, I think of a few of the things that maybe brother bear could loosen up on. Here is but a small list of those things.
1. Spending money
The market, which is just another way of saying “us,” is often understood to be the great engine of growth in society. We must remember, however, that capitalism isn’t just a profits system, but a loss system as well. Those losses in the market are just as important as the gains, because they signal to companies what they shouldn’t be doing in a way that forces them to respond immediately to our demands. Never heard of the “New Coke” before? I hadn’t either. That’s because it didn’t perform well and it was quickly taken off the shelves. Coca-Cola incurred a loss, but learned what not to do in the process.
In contrast, the government does not have such a system in place. When it takes our tax dollars, it doesn’t have the same signals as the rest of us do. Money is spent on “good ideas” whether or not those ideas are actually good. For example:
As always, the question we should be asking ourselves is this: What could we as a society have done with all that money that the government wastes?
2. Growing naturally on its own
Even someone who thinks that the government can run all social programs better than the rest of society must concede that the natural state for government is to grow. If it keeps on growing, how will it ever stop? If we keep on adding new programs so that officials can spend money to get re-elected, how will they ever learn self-restraint? Can government keep growing forever without any problems?
3. Managing the lives of people
Franklin D. Roosevelt, father of the New Deal, interned around 110,000 Japanese Americans against their will during WWII. He also forced everyone to turn in their gold at around $20.67 an ounce, only to then artificially peg gold to $35 dollars an ounce. If you didn't sell your gold at that price, you were fined $10,000 (quite a lot of money in 1933) and/or jailed for 5 years. Both of these things were done through threat of violence, and they were not done in some evil bastion of socialism, but right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Now, while we all joke about New York’s large soda ban, both the soda ban and FDR's contributions to our history really echo an important underlying statement: Whatever you are able to do in life, it will only be because the government allows you to do it. And if you refuse to do what they tell you, there are hefty consequences.
In contrast, within a market economy and free society, people can only become successful if they serve someone with a good or service, and do the work well enough to get paid.