Brilliant Points on Self-Government

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? – Thomas Jefferson (1801)

“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?” – Frederic Bastiat

I love how economists like Bastiat above have such great insights into human nature and behavior. Regarding the practical, consequentialist arguments in favor of limited government, Bastiat and Jefferson  are saying that some people attempt to justify a hugely powerful government by pointing to the fact that some people (any fraction you like) are irrational and make illogical decisions if left to their own free choices in how they run their lives, and therefore the government must force them to make “good” decisions. But, any fault you find in humans, that they can sometimes be irrational, is not a point against libertarianism because that problem is even more problematic for a statist system in which these same irrational people are given power to control others and make decisions for other people. It’s self-defeating. The major difference (consequentially) for “my” system is that a free society provides incentives for self correction, improvement (because people pay for their own bad decisions and are rewarded for good decisions), and trading good products and services with others, whereas the statist system reduces the self correction and good trade incentives and in addition provides incentives for people to benefit themselves at the expense of others (through stealing (taxes and fees) and force); it incentivizes and rewards failure and harm to others. One of the primary distinctions is incentive structure. Regarding any bad characteristics in humans, we can choose a system with incentives that tend to minimize these negative effects, or a system that tends to maximize them.

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