Saturday, March 22, 2014

"I just do not trust other people."

  • Synopsis: If you believe we need government to watch the other people you don't trust, you're giving extra authority to exactly those other people... and, worse, their bureaucratic organization.

Talking with my brother about getting rid of the state, he said he just couldn't go along because "I just do not trust other people."  (Or maybe he said that "people are stupid and selfish"... yeah, that sounds more like him.)  I have a typical response but forgot to use it: I'm much the same as you, and that's exactly why I don't want to give extra authority to other people... specifically lawmakers, and the military and police they control.  To me, it is much scarier to have a small set of people who have monopoly power over a police force and taxing authority and water management.

Isn't it much safer to have everyone watching out for everyone else?  It goes against many of our cherished ideals of a benevolent leadership.  We should be able to make the right kinds of laws and put the right kind of people in charge to make good decisions!  Everyone (including myself) believes that we know some of the right things to do and we have good ideas about things that should work well for everyone, and I think that leads us to have faith in rulers.  But the fact is that absolute, codified laws cannot cover all situations and human conditions... and the intended beneficial consequences that are claimed by politicians mask an iceberg of costs and unintended consequences that are hard to see but which drag down so many other parts of our communities.

And history has shown us how even the American government with the most noble of founders and foundational concepts can easily be corrupted, in every generation... and not only do we give improper power over our lives to corruptible people, but more critically we see how the system becomes self-serving to the point where bureaucratic incentives do not serve the public good.

1 comment:

Trent Larson said...

I got a response from my brother, and here are my follow-up thoughts:

When it comes to large numbers of people, I think people nowadays underestimate how much power and influence voluntary action will achieve. For example, you may be thinking of when your area is threatened by war... and when sufficiently threatened then you'll get massive outrage meaning massive numbers of volunteers (eg. 1.5 million in a few months in Britain). Want examples of voluntary coordination of millions? Mormon church, welfare and otherwise. But nothing need be under one umbrella: there were voluntary courts before state-managed courts... and even in the security and military area there's no need for a monopoly by The State: I'd put my money on a passionate volunteer force any day, even if there were inefficiencies of overlapping groups.

But, yes, you're right about how different the world would be: there would be more federations of organizations rather then so many huge monolithic organizations. That's one of our big problems: so much money and power are gathered into the hands of a few, and that's only possible because of the power (of military, police, taxation, regulation, land, etc) that is concentrated in the monopoly of The State.