Just as a governor of an engine maintains the speed of the engine at a particular speed setting, government, in the most general sense, is a means of keeping things consistent and predictable.
Some examples of a consistent and predictable government:
- You can safely predict that if you drive on your side of the road at or slightly below the speed limit, and follow the other “rules of the road” you can drive down the highway without being stopped by armed men representing the government demanding you pay a fine.
- You can safely predict that if someone takes or damages your property without your permission, and they are caught, they will be punished for their actions.
- You can safely predict that if you have a agreed upon contract with another person or corporation that the contract can and will be enforced according to the terms of the contract.
- You can safely predict the same laws and regulations will be applied to everyone equally.
This consistency and predictability promotes the general welfare to such a great extent that it is probably impossible to accurately forecast and it can only be crudely measured under extraordinary circumstances.
This difficulty in measurement works both ways. Just as it is difficult to know how much benefit there is to consistent and predictable government it is also difficult to know how much disadvantage there is to inconsistent and unpredictable government. Politicians use this to their great advantage by giving favor to special interest groups and individuals.
But regardless of the difficulty of measurement we know, without any doubt, that inconsistent and unpredictability is the exact opposite of government in the most general sense. It is bad government. It does not create “social justice”. It cannot be considered “doing the right thing even if it is unlawful.” It means people do not have a stable environment. It creates uncertainty and risk that ripples through our entire society. It encourages, nay, requires, people to seek special treatment from the political elite to protect themselves and to punish enemies and competitors.
Yet it is happening now. It is happening in our country.
There were contracts and bankruptcy laws that cover the situation where a corporation has expenses and debts that exceed their capacity to pay. Yet these laws were ignored when certain “to big to fail” corporations actually did fail. The U.S. government bailed out GM using money allocated for other uses. This misallocation of money was done under both the Bush and Obama administrations. It was not within their authority to make such changes in the laws.
It is against the law to sell or transfer firearms to people with felony criminal records. Yet the ATF demanded that many gun stores do exactly that in operation “Fast and Furious”. The publically stated reason was to “purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders.” But they did nothing more than “hope”, if that, on the tracking part of the operation. Many observers concluded the real reason for the operation was to aid in the creation of new, and probably unconstitutional, gun laws in the U.S. It was not within the authority granted to the ATF by Congress to arm violent criminals nor to enable crime for the purposes of creating new laws which violate the rights of innocent people.
We have laws that specifically state that purchases of multiple long guns do not require any special reporting as is required for handguns (18 USC 923(g)(3)(A)). Yet in some states the ATF requires the same special reporting for long guns just as it does for handguns. The ATF is a law enforcement agency. It does not have the authority to make laws. For them to do this is no different than for some local sheriff to create a 9:00 PM curfew for all dark skinned people or a registry of homosexuals. It is not within their authority to make such changes in the laws.
We have a law that says all health insurance plans must conform to certain minimum standards of coverage. Yet President Obama, without changing the law, told insurance companies they could continue selling the banned policies. It is not within his authority to make such changes in the laws.
The IRS was used as a tool to harass political enemies. It is not within their authority to use the tax system to oppress innocent people.
The NSA captures almost all Internet traffic and stores it, apparently indefinitely. This includes all email and your most personal financial and medical information. They do this in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.
We have laws that specifically forbid the violation of, or even conspiracy to violate, civil rights (18 USC 241 and 18 USC 242). Yet individuals and governments routinely violate these laws without consequence.
We do not have the rule of law in this country. We have the rule of people who imagine themselves philosopher kings with all the corresponding hazards.
This JFK quote keeps running through my head:
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
A peaceful “revolution” involves changing the laws and replacing public servants. But nearly all the servants seem to believe they are the masters and laws are ignored with impunity. So, if JFK was correct, doesn’t that mean violent revolution is inevitable? And doesn’t it also mean that those in political power made it so?