Thursday, 29 September 2011

Governor Beverly Perdue: The Best Government Is That Which Governs Most?

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Governor Beverly Perdue’s recent suggestion that we suspend the 2012 elections so our Representatives can focus on getting things done has caused some to question whether she is fit to hold office. After all, if you want to preserve a wayward democratic republic, it’s probably not the best idea to suggest that democracy is what’s driving us off course.

And ever since an audio surfaced of the North Carolina Democrat’s remarks, her efforts at damage control — a claim that she was simply indulging sarcasm — have been falling short. The audio reveals that her suggestion was rendered matter-of-factly, embedded within more than a minute of almost continuous blather, which, perhaps, leads one to believe that Perdue might be well served in the future to take a breath. It never helps when your mouth is one step ahead of your brain.

But whether the Governor was serious or just possesses the world’s worst delivery is secondary, because she isn’t fit to hold office either way. It isn’t, however, for the reason most critics think.

The real issue here is that Perdue’s suggestion reflects a common fallacy: that our legislators’ problem is that they simply don’t have enough time to legislate. This is expressed in many ways, from the Governor’s concern that campaigning is a distraction to that oft-heard complaint about a “do-nothing” Congress.

But we should be mindful here of the apocryphal maxim, “The best government is that which governs least” and ask ourselves if we really want busy-bee politicians. After all, when a car company gets more productive, you get more cars; when a pharmaceutical company gets more productive, you get more life-enhancing medications; when a light-bulb company gets more productive, you get more light bulbs. And when government gets more productive?

Too often we get regulations that make cars more expensive, stifle drug development, and limit choice in the light-bulb market.

And that’s just for starters.

Because when politicians get productive, they are too often destructive. Remember that what they produce are laws, regulations, and mandates, which by definition are removals of freedom, as they state that there is something you must or must not do. Therefore, the more laws you have, the less free you are — at least from the state’s intrusion.

The other thing politicians produce is tax increases. Of course, there occasionally are tax cuts, too, but overall it’s a losing proposition for the people. After all, it’s never a question of whether the government will, on balance, give the citizenry money. For the state doesn’t actually produce wealth; all it can do is forcibly extract money from some and redistribute it to others (who too often are donor cronies like the Solyndra crew). And, we should note, when done privately this is known as theft.

And what of solving our problems? Well, this isn’t a matter of time.

It’s a matter of will.

We’re not talking about the Manhattan Project here. Most of the problems government could remedy are not only of its own design, their solutions are simple to grasp. Give us a separation of business and state and stop financing irresponsibility by bailing out failed corporations. Eliminate unconstitutional bureaucracies and programs and return power to the states. Stop regulating us to death and allow the engine of enterprise to roar back to life. Secure the borders. And then there is that other solution that seems to elude our Einsteins in government: Stop spending money.

Of course, there is a minority in office that would actually do the obvious; there are also some who are just oblivious. But another factor is that claims of complexity are a great diversionary tactic, which is why we hear so much blather about how impossible it is to secure the border or ensure that illegal aliens return to their native lands. “You see,” says Mr. Machiavelli, “this problem really is very complex, and you’ll have trouble understanding it. But, rest assured, we’re on the job.” And then all they have to do is look busy so that people can at least be happy they don’t have a “do-nothing Congress.”

Yet it should do nothing — at least most of the time. Note that North Dakota has a part-time legislature that holds session only every other year, yet the state has been a fount of job creation and boasts a booming economy despite our national recession. Also note that during the early 1960s, only 19 state legislatures met annually.

Today, 46 do.

Are we really better off?

The idea that our politicians need more time to govern is not an authentically American one. It is a statist idea. It presupposes that we cannot govern ourselves and must be continually controlled and managed by Leviathan’s shepherds. But to think our politicians will find remedies if we’ll only allow them more time in Washington is like thinking a bad physician will cure you if you’ll only go under his knife more often. In both cases, the only thing that assuredly won’t be cut is the amount of money coming out of your pocket. 

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