Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ceding power to the State

The quote from William F. Buckley, "I will not cede more power to the state.", gave me reason to recall a principle that is not spoken enough. Whenever we ask the government to do anything for us that we like, we are giving it the power to do something we don't.

If we wish to keep our freedoms of speech, press, and public meeting, we cannot allow the freedom of religion to be curbed, for it is only by limiting the first three that the fourth can be impinged.

Ask government to limit freedom of speech, press, art, or any other freedom in the interest of morality, and you also give it the power to limit your own freedom of speech, press, or art when next the pendulum of change swings against you.

We cannot demand a war on drugs without losing the battle for liberty. And if one poor lifestyle choice is so illegal as to allow the police to seize your assets without due process, why are the other poor lifestyle choices any different? Should drinking, smoking, gambling, pornography, foul language, overeating or speeding on the highway be any different?

We cannot ask the government to spend money it doesn't have without incurring a higher tax burden. While it's true that government revenues tend to increase over time when taxes are lowered, that is not a reason to increase spending in anticipation of higher revenue. Government spending requires that the government get funds via taxation at some point. If we lower taxes and wait for the increased revenue (from greater economic activity), increased spending counts against a future tax cut.

Looking at the bigger picture, many people entertain the fantasy that only certain parts of government are problematic. Some wish to increase defense spending, or farm subsidies, or education funding, or some other portion of government, without realizing the implications for the rest of government. Any increase in spending, unless it is accompanied by an equal cut in another area, increases the size of government. That increase requires increased taxation, and neither the increase in spending nor the taxation required to achieve it will ever go away even once the problem they ostensibly address is no longer a concern.

If you ask the government for "free" health care (or even "free" health insurance), be prepared to have government then control your behavior in the interest of decreasing medical costs.

Not only must we not cede power to the state, we must not ask of it any favors.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about Federal aid and control of education? That's one of my growing peeves. We can't accept Federal money for education without their controls attached. And where in our Constitution, statutes or common law does it say the United States government knows anything about education? Nowhere. In fact, they're idiots on the subject.

Nice piece, Loren. Thanks. ~Jimmy

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