Is Government as Good as You Think it Is? By Daniel Phillips Guest Contributor

Like many Americans, I have been thinking a lot about politics lately.  I am not really sure whether I love to hate politics or I hate to love politics.  One thing is certain; it is getting pretty ugly these days.  A lot of people think that is something new, but really it isn’t. There was a time when rival politicians would sometimes duel to the death.  And then of course there was Tennessee Congressman David Crockett (he actually hated the nickname Davie) who famously in a fit of anger told his own constituents “you may all go to hell; I am going to Texas.”  No. politics has always been an ugly thing, but that is because it is so important and people get passionate about it.  It is important because if we do not all pay attention it is easy to be deceived.  Remember, Adolph Hitler and Hugo Chavez were not revolutionaries who led a civil war for power.  These guys were elected.  People voted for them because they liked the things that they said.

The important thing to understand is that government is not a good thing.  Philosopher Max Weber described government as a Monopoly of Violence.  Before you start freaking out that Danny is an anarchist let me finish explaining.  Government is necessary, a necessary evil if you will.  Without government there would be violence all over the place.  If you had a possession, or perhaps food, and your neighbor wanted it and was more powerful than you, he would simply take it.  In fact, anarchy as a permanent state is not even possible.  There are evil people who crave power and these evil people, if they can amass the weapons and pawns necessary, will rise up and declare themselves kings.  So, without a government, there will be violence and the strongest will keep rising until they monopolize the violence.  The subjects obey the ruler out of fear of violence and in turn the ruler prohibits violence by others in order to win enough support of the subject to stay in power.  So government, by definition is a monopoly on violence and a necessary evil.  This is something that many people in our modern world do not understand, but something that our founders understood well.

In the modern world we always hear politicians talking about and promising “good” government.  The important thing to remember is that those words are just what they think we want to hear.  Power and greed is primarily what motivates them.  It always has been and it always will be.  Believe me that any person who really has the ability to do the job of President of the United States also has the skills to be the CEO of a corporation, a job that pays many times what the job of President pays.  Who would want such a job?  I contend that such a person has to be a little evil.  You see, normal good people do not desire power over other people.  Yet here is a job that attracts not those who desire money like most people, but those who desire power over others.  I always hear Republicans talking about how scary the Democrat is and Democrats talking about how scary the Republican is when actually we should all be nervous about both of them just because they want the job.

This is where our founders were so brilliant.  They created a government that is limited in scope and power.  They drafted and ratified a document which restrains that government to those powers specifically enumerated to it is.  They attempted to bind and restrain that government in a way that would protect the American people against the most dangerous thing in the country, the government itself.  Sadly, over the years that leviathan has grown and grown.  The people whom we have elected to manage that government have pushed and strained and all too often outright ignored the limits placed upon them by the founders.  They expand this power by convincing the very people who have entrusted that precious Constitution to them that they are doing whatever they are doing for our own good.

There was a video playing a few days ago at the DNC that said “Government is the only thing that we all belong to.”  This is absolutely backward.  It is the government that belongs to the people and not the other way around.  Both the Party and the Obama campaign have disavowed any involvement in the making of the video.  However, the party has not disavowed the ideas of collectivism and ever expanding government.  Almost every speech has echoed this theme.  Sandra Fluke claimed that if the government does not force another individual to pay for something she wants she is somehow being denied her right to it.  President Clinton said that his party believes in a “we are all in this together” philosophy whereas as Conservatives believe that you are on your own.  As benign as this sound, and even attractive to some, this is NOT the role of government.  A bunch of guys in a prison are “all in it together.”  When you are outside those bars you are sort of on your own.  You are not marched to the cafeteria at lunch time, but instead have to find a way to feed yourself.  Of course, people pull together through tragedy and trials.  They do this through their local communities and churches and civic groups.  But government sponsored collectivism is the elimination of individualism, individual rights, and freedom.  I would much rather stay outside those bars.

Over the next 60 days you are going to hear speeches and debates.  Both guys are going to tell you how horrible the other guy is.  In the end, one of them is going to get elected.  Sadly, he is probably going to continue expanding the size and scope of government.  Romney has promised smaller more limited government.  History tells us that he and his party will probably manage a slower rate of growth than Obama and his party.  I hope that I am wrong and that he keeps his promise.  What you need to keep in mind is that it may all sound like sunshine and dreams when they promise you all these things, but anything the government is doing for you, any decision the government is making for you, is another freedom you have lost and another step closer to tyranny.  Government cannot give you anything for free.  It can only force you to buy it by taxing you first (or borrowing the money from China and taxing your children).  Isn’t it better to make your own choices what to do with the fruits of your labor?  Of course, the left will tell you that you aren’t going to pay for it.  They will just get the money from the “rich.”  Well, once they have taken everything from them, they are coming for you next.  You can count on that.  There simply are not enough of those super rich out there to pay for everything they are promising.  Not to mention that this will result in fewer of them.  After all, what is the point of doing all of the hard work required to succeed if it is only going to be taken away?

If you love government and think that it is just the best thing since sliced bread you are probably going to vote for Obama as he has promised and he is giving you even more of it.  But if you are one of those on the far left I have a question for you.  Do you agree with all of those delegates at the DNC who were saying that we should ban corporate profits?  If so I will not take the time to explain how stupid this is, how no profit means no more corporation and no more jobs. What I would like to ask though is this.  Why is a corporation, run by people so horribly evil while a government (also run by people) is so, so good?  That company that you hate so much will not get your business or your money unless you chose to do business with them.  The government on the other hand is going to take your money whether you choose to use their services or not.  And if ordinary human beings suddenly become evil when they enter the business world, I need you to explain why they are trustworthy when you give them all the power of government.

Daniel Phillips :Graduate of University of Houston Law Center.
Licensed to practice law in Texas and North Dakota.
Employed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Veteran of Afghainstan and Iraq.
Retired Texas Army National Guard.
Live in Houston


What’s the Constitution for, anyway?

From when I was a kid in high school, I don’t remember much about the Constitution from my government class. It was pretty basic, actually. Here’s what I remember, in a nutshell.

The Constitution is the framework of our government here in the United States. It defines the different parts and how they provide checks and balances for each other. There’s a clearly defined process for changing it and some of the Founding Fathers insisted that a Bill of Rights be included to make sure we kept our freedoms.

All this is true, but somehow I missed one of the most important aspects of the whole deal. You see, the Founding Fathers had just fought a bitter war against the British Crown (not to mention some of their neighbors) to throw off the oppression of a government that did pretty much what it wanted to without regard for what was right or even legal. As they were working to create a new government, they were very much aware that, if they weren’t careful, they’d end up right back where they started – with a government that was oppressive.

So, the second half of the Constitution story is this: It’s designed to limit the Federal Government. It clearly enumerates with the government is allowed to do, and it clearly states that everything else is to be addressed by the individual states. The idea was to handle certain things, like the national defense and the highways and trade with foreign nations, at the national level and push everything else down to the local level where they can be handled according to regional preferences. It was never intended that the Federal Government would have the reach that it now has.

There is currently an assault on the Bill of Rights by the Federal government, but I’ll save that discussion for a future blog. What I want to do here is to provide a perspective that I think is missed by most people.

Today, there are a lot of legal challenges to enacted laws that are based on violations of the Bill of Rights, notably the mandate to buy insurance in the controversial Affordable Care Act. While these cases are valid and probably more winnable than others, they tend to ignore a more serious problem. What we should be doing is to fight the battle over whether or not the Federal Government has overstepped their enumerated powers in the Constitution.

By the way, I credit Charles Krauthammer for making this clear to me. See the video on YouTube – search for “Charles Krauthammer – Constitution Day Celebration 2011”. He makes the point right around minute # 45.

So let me try to say it a little better. By taking the stance that a particular law violates the Bill of Rights, we are in effect building a wall around the Bill of Rights and abandoning everything else as fair game for the government to legislate for us. What we should be doing is to build a wall around the Federal Government’s enumerated powers, limiting what they are allowed to legislate.

It was interesting to me that the Constitution actually mandates that the Congress meet at least once a year. To me, this seems that they didn’t expect them to have all that much to do, but they wanted to make sure they didn’t ignore something that needed to be done. I’m sure they would be horrified to find that our Congresses over the years (Republican and Democrat) have created such a monolithic mish-mash of laws, not to mention the ocean of regulations that have resulted.

It strikes me that most of our legislators today believe that what is unconstitutional is what they say is unconstitutional. When a legislator is interviewed and asked about the constitutionality of something, their answer is, for the most part, dictated by their politics and what comes through is something like “Don’t trouble your simple little mind with that. We’ll tell you what’s okay and what isn’t”. In other words, we are Congress and we decide what the rules are. That isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Everything they do must be judged through the lens of what the Constitution says.

To be honest, I’d be happy to vote for a Senator or Congress-person whose record was that they tried to stop passage of bills that are outside the enumerated powers.

What do you think? If you agree, post this on Facebook or somewhere.