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Monday, November 8, 2010

A Letter to Michelle

I have a dear friend who lives in England and is aware of the political upheavals on this side of the pond. She is also aware that I am a political junkie. So she asked me a simple question. For future reference, this is not a safe thing to do with me.

Dear Michelle:

You asked me to describe to you my political views so that you could better understand politics. Not the safest of requests, but one made in earnest and I will be all to happy to oblige.

Let me start by saying that you already understand a lot more than you think you do. The problem is that you have confused the political process with all its bureaucracy and Machiavellian intrigue with actual political thought. It would be like confusing the Southern Baptist Convention with all its bylaws and politics with religion.

Remember, you asked for this.

All humans have the common trait of Self Interest. This is not to be confused with Selfishness. Self Interest is what drives us to eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired and generally seek anything that promotes our welfare and happiness. As human beings we are able to extend this umbrella of Self Interest to include our immediate family, those we care about and possibly even complete strangers. We care for and show love for our own children because it advances our goals for our lives and it makes us happy. Self Interest is beneficial to man as individuals and as a whole.

Because of Self Interest we can trust most human beings to act in a way that promotes their welfare, no government is needed to intervene on behalf of the individual. Most people have sense enough to come in out of the rain and to feed themselves. Many even have enough determination and drive to educate themselves, find meaningful labor and provide well enough for themselves and their offspring.

The individual does not need government.

Unfortunately individuals refuse to stay far enough away from each other. The Self Interest of one occasionally runs afoul of the Self Interest of another. This of course leads to conflict and chaos, which threatens the Self Interest of others in the vicinity.

Since people will act in their Self Interest, the threatened bystanders will apply order to the conflict and chaos, settling the matter in accordance to the moral compass of the community. The solution will be enforced by the fear of being ostracized or by threat of actual physical force. This is the very essence of government.

Government is how a community protects the Self Interest of the individual citizens.

My Self Interest is not your Self Interest. We have different goals and needs and work towards them in different ways. The greater the number of Individuals (308,549,000 in the US, 62,041,708 in the UK) the harder it is for a central government to perfectly ensure the Self Interest of each citizen.

If the government were to simplify things by creating a Common Self Interest, the enforced Self Interest would be a poor fit for most of the population. Almost any citizen of Red China, where the individual’s life is chosen for him, can attest to this. A population that cannot pursue the Self Interest that best fits it is an unhappy population.

So an efficient government does not provide for the Self Interest of its individuals. It can’t do it in anyway that would be beneficial for the population or would be efficient.

So what is a government for? An well thought out government opens the way for the individual to pursue his own Self Interest by protecting him interference by others and by protecting his right to actually pursue said Interest and to enjoy the fruits of that pursuit.

A beneficial government does no more that protect a man’s right to pursue happiness as long as it does not impinge on others and to enjoy his property. It does not guarantee the successful pursuit of happiness, that is on the individual. It only allows it to happen as unhindered as possible.

The original Constitution of the United States (the only one I am really familiar with.) was written to this end. The Federal Government was given a very small and well-defined list of powers: including defending the country, treaties, and commerce between the states. All other powers were left to the states, which were meant to act as mini-nations as it were. Each state would see to its citizens the best it could for its unique populace and environment in accordance with the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights kept governments from interfering too much with the individual’s Self Interest.

A democraticly elected representative government safe guarded the rights of the people by because the elected knew that a single election could cost them their seat at the table.

But something went wrong. All because the elected officials decided to act outside the rules out of kindness. Some people are just not cut out for the whole Self Interest pursuit. Some people can’t provide for themselves. The poor had always been the ward of the churches before. But the government decided they could do it better, they had money and means, even if it was actually the population’s money and means. So the government started spending funds and energy on those they felt needed it.

When it became apparent that you could be given money if you could convince the powers that be that you needed it, convincing elected officials to see things your way became a cottage industry. Thus lobbyists were born.

More “needy” meant more money was needed, so more taxes were levied. More taxes meant that pursuing your Self Interest became harder – thus creating more needy.

Eventually a shift in thought took place. The government no longer saw itself as the caretaker of the Rights of the individuals but as the caretaker of the individuals themselves. So they started regulating everything to protect the individuals from every possible danger. And the lobbyists came back.

Soon the regulations stopped protecting the individual (whether they wanted it or not) and began to protect the organizations that hired the lobbyists. Often at the detriment of the individual and their pursuit of happiness.

This new round of governing led to yet more taxes to pay the costs, more government bureaucrats to administer the programs and more obstacles to the Self Interest of the citizens.

Today the US government has reached the same point that several European countries have already reached. The government now sees its role as to protect and grow itself, not its citizens. All property belongs to the government first, but on loan to the citizen. All Rights are granted by the mercy of the government, not God given.

The current US government only vaguely resembles the one described in the founding father’s Constitution. As much as 90% of the laws and departments in the government are outside the powers granted by the Constitution.

Worse, the population has forgotten what a Constitutional government is like and accepts it current enslavement without question. The current tax burden on the average American is now many times higher than the one that started the Revolutionary War.

Many of the citizens rely on the government to take care of them, giving up their right to pursue happiness for the luxury of having mediocrity handed to them on a platter.

It is the responsibility of the citizens of any country to demand that their government protect their God given right to the pursuit of Self Interest and the fruits thereof and do nothing else.


  1. so what you are saying is you want the government to stop giving us cheese? No way man!!

  2. I think you are dead on, in part.

    However, you cannot take a group of individuals and categorize them by saying that "self interest" is everyone's common motivation. There are too many people throughout history that simply do NOT fit into that category.

    People are all different, no matter where you go. They have different ideas and opinions and what drives them to those ideas and opinions are eduction and life experience.

    Other than the assumption that 'self interest is everyone's motivation', your assessments are correct.