Understanding the True Role of Government
One of the greatest misunderstandings we have with government today is its true and proper role. We have seen government continually grow through Republican and Democrat administrations and both parties, come election time, spout the same drivel that they think people will gobble right up.
You will notice that at every election the talk is always about how government will improve or stimulate the economy. Government is seen as the answer from both parties to build the economy to their liking. As government has worked itself into the economic affairs of people it is increasingly looked upon as the ideal way to stimulate the economy or “save and create” jobs.
The most crucial thing that we cannot ignore is the Constitution. The document that is supposed to restrain government gives absolutely no mention that its purpose is to create or maintain jobs, “strengthen” the economy, or get involved in any economic planning whatsoever. The Founders originally recognized that the federal government was to have very little control over the economy, in order to secure the freedoms and liberties of the people to make and control their own decisions.
Gradually over the past century, those in government have ignored the essential economic freedoms that were strongly protected in the Constitution. The passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 and the ability of the government to tax citizens marked a beginning of the government’s economic entrenchment. How does giving the government the power to control how much of your own labor is actually yours even come close to fitting in with economic freedom? The ludicrous idea that we work several months every year for the government tramples the laws of freedom. It is central planning in one of its worst forms.
The expression (included in the Constitution) “regulation of commerce” was suddenly taken as an excuse to regulate the production, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of any product or item that the government felt it needed to. In the Founders time, regulation simply meant “to make regular.” Today government uses the word to influence or control next to anything it likes. This includes absurd regulations such as how much water a toilet bowl can hold and the size of holes in Swiss Cheese. The Constitution does not give the federal government near the authority to get this involved in affairs that would easily be solved by the people, market, and if necessary, the states.
Government has gradually shoved itself into the economy and individual affairs of the people. The Constitution’s protection of these basic rights seems irrelevant to the bureaucrats who can’t find anything that they won’t tax, regulate, or control in some manner. As the government takes more control from the people and adds to its own unconstitutional power, people become more reliant on the services of government. Individual initiative and responsibility slowly go out the door.
I cringe when I hear that the government needs to stimulate the economy or create jobs. Many people are so ignorant to believe that if we give government just a little bit more power, a little more control, that things will improve. It is a dangerous trend when people trust government more than their own judgment and choice.
Economic sustainability cannot come from government. It is impossible for government bureaucrats, regulators, and planners to calculate rewards and corresponding risks than the people who are actually putting their time, money, and labor on the line. As we have seen largely in the past decade, these public officials have absolutely no connection to fiscal sanity and the concepts of living within your means and suffering the consequences of reckless behavior.
Many politicians won’t stop preaching that the free market brought us into this economic mess. They say that capitalism and freedom breed greed and corruption. We can be sure that these statements are full of hot air when you consider that we haven’t had a “free market” for quite some time. Government has gotten itself so entrenched in individual lives, businesses, industries, and the whole economy that it isn’t humanely possible for us to have or have had a “free market” in recent history. The effects we are seeing today are the direct results of central planning, a government with little regard for the rule of law, and the consequential disregard for individual responsibility, personal freedom, and local governance.
I would hope that people can see the failures of central planning just by looking at the events of the past couple years. It is grossly unconstitutional, intrudes on the most basic traits of human nature, and does nothing but transfer the power of the people to the government. It is not sustainable, efficient, or productive. On another level it is not moral, sensible, or legal.
In short, government is not here to create, save, or guarantee jobs. Government is not here to stimulate the economy. Government’s primary purpose, as the Founders and the Constitution recognize, is to protect and defend individual liberty and freedom (including economic liberty). Government in its best role, which the Founders tirelessly pursued and fought for, is one that stays out of the affairs of the people, allows them to make their own decisions and choices, so long as they don’t intrude on the freedom or liberty of another individual.
Liberty is one and the same; it is not meant to be separated by government into groups, economic liberties, or civil liberties. Constitutionally (and I would think morally) the government does not have the authority to decide which liberties we can and cannot manage on our own, whether it be financial liberties, economic liberties, or civil liberties. One natural liberty without another is like a tree without its roots or branches. All-inclusive individual liberty is the only true liberty.