Why the cry for more government?

First Published: 1999-06-01

by Rick Lowe

“…the power system continues only as long as individuals try to get something for nothing. The day when a majority of individuals declares or acts as if it wants nothing from government, declares that it will look after its own welfare and interests, then on that day the power elite’s are doomed.” Anthony Sutton Author of THE BEST ENEMY MONEY CAN BUY.

In recent months there has been a renewed call for more government intervention and bureaucracy by a noted columnist and the Bahamas Economics Association. When we have evidence of years of mismanagement, waste of public funds (that’s our money by the way) and inefficiencies, with minimal accountability, why ask for more of the same? The fact is that government believes that if done on a large enough scale any project will succeed? Beside you can reach further into the taxpayers pocket to finance it. If a public enterprise fails, in most cases it expands. In private enterprise it closes down. Examples of failed government enterprises abound. Remember the Hatchet Bay debacle? How about the money poured into the Hotel Corporation or even ZNS TV for that matter?

Privatisation is the only option for government to get out of “business.” Unfortunately even this is proving to be more costly than if it were a private enterprise adjusting to changing market conditions.

Government intervention is a form of aggression too!

In her book HEALING OUR WORLD, Dr. Mary Ruwart notes that “We’ve seen that government, as we know it today, is not the benevolent protector we hoped it would be. Instead, it is a mechanism by which we direct the guns of government at our neighbours out of fear that they might choose differently than we would like them to. We reap as we sow. In trying to control others, we find ourselves controlled. In failing to honour our neighbour’s choice, we create a world of poverty and strife.”

Dr Ruwart continues that “As long as we employ the guns of government to force our neighbours to our will, aggression will be the instrument by which we enslave ourselves.” She is spot on!

Being Bahamian I particularly enjoyed her analogy when talking about unification and the methods used to get there like “choice (non-aggression) or by force (aggression). “For example, the physical and emotional joining that occurs spontaneously between lovers differs considerably from the forcible unification of rape. Global unity, achieved or maintained by aggression instead of by honouring our neighbours choice, is the antithesis of universal love as well.”

As they retreat, we suggest advancing.

As socialism and communism’s frailties have finally been confirmed as the wrong approach for governments, we have people encouraging us to follow this direction. As Percy Greaves. Jr. wrote many years ago, “The mass myopia of our age has been a reactionary reverence for government intervention.” I was no different until a few years ago, when I realised that the government has only helped me by allowing the Free Market to slowly take root here in the Bahamas. I now realise that the government cannot solve our problems. However, they can, and do, help create strife or make things worse in the economic problems of “poverty or prosperity.”

The Free Market

I am a believer of the Free Market system. A system that forces its participants to be considerate of others. If we continue with this desire to coerce others into what we believe is “right”, we will continue to create the strife we face today.

When a union can bring a country to its knees with the threat of civil unrest or when a government can murder its citizens without remorse the world’s moral compass has gone completely off whack.

In their conclusion of FREE TO CHOOSE: A Personal Statement Drs. Milton and Rose Friedman concluded that “The two ideas of human freedom and economic freedom working together came to their greatest fruition in the United States. Those ideas are still very much with us. We are all of us imbued with them. They are part of the very fabric of our being. But we have been straying from them. We have been forgetting the basic truth that the greatest threat to human freedom is the concentration of power, whether in the hands of government or anyone else. We have persuaded ourselves that it is safe to grant power, provided it is for good purposes.”

“Fortunately, we are waking up. We are again recognising the dangers of over-governed society, coming to understand that good objectives can be perverted by bad means, that reliance of the freedom of people to control their own lives in accordance with their own values is the surest way to achieve the full potential of a great society.”

“Fortunately also, we are as a people still free to choose which way we should go – whether to continue along the road we have been following to even bigger government, or to call a halt and change direction.”

We can do it!

We continually cry out that Bahamians can do it, and there are pockets of Bahamian success stories all around us. But I would suggest that these were not created by some law that prevented someone else from being creative or using coercive power to take it from them. These success stories came from a foundation of believing in oneself, working their backsides off and providing a service or product that someone else wants.

All qualities that Bahamians have if we choose to apply ourselves rather that swallowing the rhetoric of hate and envy being regurgitated around us.

Dr. Ruwart emphasised that “Wealth is created by individuals, working alone or as part of a team. The size of the Wealth Pie does not depend primarily on natural resources (as we well know in the Bahamas), but on human creativity and productivity. When the marketplace ecosystem is free from individual and collective aggression, wealth grows and flourishes. The marketplace ecosystem is self-regulating: those who serve others best will reap the positive feedback of profit.”

As a people I think we generally accept these facts, unfortunately the prospect of a free ride with the might of government doing our bidding is tantalising… but self defeating.

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