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The Role and Responsibility of a Government.
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Green Peas

Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:13 pm    Post subject: The Role and Responsibility of a Government. Reply with quote

The Theory of Government.

By Peter Landry.1

Herein I shall deal with questions about people and how they organize themselves under leadership, under rules for conduct, under government. The central questions asked by this paper are: What is government? And, What is a government's purpose, its powers, and its perils. Through the writings of the classic political thinkers, these and other questions of a collateral nature are examined. Collateral questions such as: How does government come about? Is it an automatic process, or an invention of man? What power does government have over a person? And who is it that sanctions this power? And for what purpose? Are there limits in the exercise of government power? And if there are limits, what, for the individual, are the practical problems and remedies when these limits are exceeded?

As David Hume expressed it, "one poison may be an antidote to another."2 A touch of one, even with its sickly effect, may save the fatal consequence of another. Freedom is essential to the life of an individual. Without it the individual will wither; and withered parts are useless, indeed, a burden on the whole. A person, however, cannot have a licence to do anything he or she likes. Rules for behaviour must be made and enforced, but not so much as to fatally poison freedom; but only a touch to preserve it. Thus, government is like a purifying poison, a stabilizer; needed, not for itself, but so to permit the highest level of individual freedom without anarchy.

To go into the Hobbesian and Lockeian theories about Pre-Social Man is more than I intend to do at this place; suffice it to say that Thomas Hobbes thought, in uncivilized times, in times before government, there existed continual war with "every man, against every man."3 This Hobbsian view is to be contrasted with that of John Locke. Locke thought that the original state of man was happy and was characterized by reason and tolerance. He thought that all human beings, in their natural state, were equal and free to pursue matters, considered as inalienable rights -- life, health, liberty, and possessions.4 One will have to make up their own mind as to whether man has a natural morality, or not. However, I am bound to point out that Locke's theories on the nature of man have held sway for three hundred years. It was to be the middle of the 19th century before the theories of evolution (theories supported by hard facts) were to be discussed and accepted; Locke's views are consistent with evolutionary theory. That which distinguishes man from the animals, is man's capacity to communicate and cooperate with one another, a capacity which evolved slowly over millions of years and which could not possibly evolve in the "solitary and brutish" world which Hobbes thought existed.

To the individual, other than to himself, justice counts for nothing: what drives man, primitive or otherwise, is self-love. Man by his nature is driven to seek "power, ambition, lucre, lust"; and will take from others to achieve his goals, unless restrained. The principal constraint for any one individual is this: he does not want to lose what he has in the attempt in getting more; and, above all, he does not want, himself or his family, to get hurt -- worse, yet, to lose his liberty, or his life. Primitive man had to spend, at least, as much of his wealth and his time defending himself as he would in taking away the wealth of others. He would be ahead, if only he could trade one off against the other. But how to do that? One way, it seems the only way, is to have every one, within striking distance, submit to a common power, such as a great king, one to be supported, to be made and to be kept powerful, so to fight off enemies from abroad. "All join to guard what each desires to gain." Thus, it is this very same "self-love" that drives man to collect together under "government and laws."

It is at this point that I choose to say something about anarchy. Most of us shudder to hear the word -- anarchy.5 It is as if one might be immediately picked up by the police by even thinking of it. It is, however, but a word, one which "describes a state where there is an absence of government. A theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty (without implication of disorder)." From the definition, as found in the OED, there is no "implication of disorder"; no matter, the writers through the ages have treated anarchy as if it invariably leads to disorder. An absence of government, it seems to have been concluded (generally on no evidence at all), would bring on a state of lawlessness. Carlyle6 thought anarchy to be "the hatefullest of things," and one of the most admirable thinkers of all time, Francis Bacon, associated "absolute anarchy" to that of "confusion."

The question of what it would be like to live in a state of anarchy, is one of the great philosophic questions of all times. On one side of this question, for example, was the French socialist, Pierre Joseph Proudhon who declared "that as man becomes morally mature the artificial restrictions of law and government can be dispensed with."7 Proudhon dreamed of a state of nature where all property (to Proudhon "property was theft") belonged to the whole and that "perfect man" would take from the store of property only that which was needed, that all men "by nature and destination" are to be in a society where all would be equal and free, and have no need for a government as everyone went about in a loving and sharing way. The critics answered that for such a state, as was visualized by Proudhon, a new race of mankind would first have to be regenerated. Until then, a state of anarchy was but a "delightful dream." This whole notion of the history of men moving towards a perfect state, under-pinned the philosophy of Marx and the Russian revolution of the early 20th century.8 Collectivists or socialists do not normally ascribe to the notion that history lives and is inextricably moving, as if animate, -- to some glorious end state; indeed a person's disbelief in this is what distinguishes him from a communist. Both communists and socialists,9 however, believe, contra to the hard evidence of history, in the perfectibility of man.

One need not resort to choosing between Hobbes and Locke, or, indeed come to any hard conclusions as to the nature of man at all, in order, to conclude, first off, that anarchy would not work and that some level of government is needed for the better working of society: for man, as is crystal clear, is not perfect; and, if he be headed anywhere in particular, including to that of an angelic state, his estimated time of arrival be, at least, a millennium away. The fact is, however, that too much government, as an antidote to anarchy, will leave society as the patient, worse off.

"Slavery results from laws, laws are made by governments, and, therefore people can only be freed from slavery by the abolition of governments. ... And it is time for people to understand that governments not only are not necessary, but are harmful and most highly immoral institutions, in which a self-respecting, honest man cannot and must not take part. ... And as soon as people clearly understand this, they will ... cease to give the governments soldiers and money. And as soon as a majority of people cease to do this, the fraud which enslaves people will be abolished. Only in this way can people be freed from slavery." (Leo Tolstoy)10

Anarchy comes from the Greek; it means no law or supreme power. Anarchism exists where people, individually or by voluntary groups, are left to totally sort out their own affairs. Should this work? The answer might come when one studies the nature of man. At his center, at his heart, every man is an anarchist. He only wishes that his neigbour be governed; as for himself, he wishes but to be left alone.

Anarchism is a theory of the absolute and complete liberty of the individual. The wish, one that man has carried in his heart through the ages is that he should have no master but one that suits his own mood. It is the extreme of liberty; at the other end of the pole is totalitarianism, absolute control possessed by government, or, almost by definition, in one person (one can think of Bismarck, Hitler and Stalin, and the many others who, throughout the world, emulate them to this day).

Personally, I do not believe anarchism would likely work, though -- while probably not the best way for society to conduct itself -- anarchy is bound to be vastly superior to totalitarianism. In its scheme anarchism has one primary rule, and it is, "mind your own business." And under anarchism the primary crime is when one interferes with another's business.

It was Thomas Paine who said, "The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security." Thus, one might say that anarchism is a state of affairs that does not last, directly a government is done away with, it is almost immediately reformed, usually in its simplest cast.

For most of us, we need some order in our lives much before we can get on with leading it. We are not so much concerned with our own personal disorders, for presumably we have some control over ourselves; but, primarily, we would like to bring the disorderly conduct of others under control; we have to know what to expect of them if we are to make our own plans. It is the activities of other persons with which we are concerned, activities which have potential to impact on us, for good or for bad.

There is a word for order in a community of individuals, it is polity. Polity is the understanding of each, within the group, as to who is to do what. Polity is required in all groups, whether it is two friends out for a sail across the water, or a larger group such as a bunch of boy scouts out for a hike, or a very much larger group such as the millions which make up a nation. One should not conclude that a set of rules must be intentionally set down for polity to exist,11 indeed, there is no need to think that government, as we know it, for the polity of a country (civil organization, or civil order) need exist at all. Anarchists think not; as we have seen, they believe that civil order might well be a spontaneous and natural event, just like the polity of bees. The prevailing opinion, however, is that government, at least to some degree, is needed to bring civil polity about.

Government is the continuous exercise of the power to control all the individuals that go to make up a community. Usually we think of this community as the whole of all those who live in some sort geographical area, the larger political units being sovereign countries. This government power is exercised by a body of persons who have become charged with the authority of governing. They may take charge by some voluntary arrangement, real or imagined, by all those within the community, or the governing group may well have seized government power by force. In many of the "primitive" governments, and I dare say in many of the smaller human groups found in society, a person will simply arise and be accepted as a leader because of his or her superior leadership abilities.

"The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests. Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like. It is the duty of the civil magistrate, by the impartial execution of equal laws, to secure unto all the people in general and to every one of his subjects in particular the just possession of these things belonging to this life. If anyone presume to violate the laws of public justice and equity, established for the preservation of those things, his presumption is to be checked by the fear of punishment, consisting of the deprivation or diminution of those civil interests, or goods, which otherwise he might and ought to enjoy. But seeing no man does willingly suffer himself to be punished by the deprivation of any part of his goods, and much less of his liberty or life, therefore, is the magistrate armed with the force and strength of all his subjects, in order to the punishment of those that violate any other man's rights." (Locke.)

Because of pure fear (it is an unproductive and an unhealthy state) people have, since the earliest times, preferred to band themselves together in a group under a strong leader. The principal fear from which people seek relief, is the fear of other people; either from within or from without the group.12 The simple fact is that there exists other people, who might injure the group, or take their property, or, -- often in the same aggressive act -- do both. In putting themselves under a leader strong enough to frighten off, or to deal with the victimizers of the world, the members within the group still continue to run a risk, the risk of being a victim to the leader, himself; but, since the leader would like to stay in power, it is a lesser risk. At any rate, if the members are molested by the leader, they can expect that the molestations will come from only one source; and the abuse, harm, injury and plunder, in total, they hope, will be less than what the people would otherwise experience if they were not within the group under a strong leader.

(For thousands, and thousands of years it never struck the members of groups, nor hardly the leaders, that the members should have much say in the choice of the leader, or have a say in his continuing support: that the leader should be strong and not molest the members too badly, was good enough. Except for the Greeks and the Romans the idea of democracy for most people was just that, an idea; for many people of the world it is still just an idea. Historically, workable democracies, in a representative form, have only recently appeared on the world stage. Best now that I tell you to keep the notion of "democracy" separate from that of "government." The ideal known as democracy, may, in reality, exist or not, no matter -- in its name bloodless revolutions come about and new governments are had [forget whether it makes any difference, or not]. My point is this: no matter how a government comes into being -- democracy, or not -- a given group needs a strong leader, one who, while not being a bully himself, can deal with the bullies of the world.)

What is it that we as individuals expect of government? Not much, I would assert, beyond the regulatory apparatus necessary to carry on national defence, and of maintaining public order and personal safety. If you are of a socialist bent, -- one, who might trace his views back to Plato through Hegel and up to Marx, -- then a broad and a somewhat limitless role is cast for government. At least this much we can all agree upon: government's role is to include the function of defence, of police, and (to a limited extend) to public health and other services which do not lend themselves to voluntary effort.13 It was Bentham's view that, to these fixed categories, governmental functions should be so limited.

"With the view of causing an increase to take place in the mass of national wealth, or with a view to increase the means either of subsistence or enjoyment, without some special reason, the general rule, is, that nothing ought to be done or attempted by government. The motto, or watchword of government on these occasions, ought to be - Be Quiet; ... [And that government be well advised to that request] Diogenes made to Alexander: `Stand out of my sunshine.' We have no need of favour - we require only a secure and open path."14

Bentham used the expression, "national wealth," and, we might ask: what is it? Simply, to beg the question, it is the sum of all the individual wealth in the nation. Carlyle thought that power is wealth.15 But, power itself is not wealth but rather the route to it. Henry George (1839-97) gave a practical definition to the concept: wealth, according to George, "is all material things produced by human labour, having exchange value."16 A more ethereal meaning to wealth was given by John Ruskin when he declared what to him was a great fact, to be clearly stated -- "there is no wealth but life."17 After a short consultation with the OED2, I came to the view, from the standpoint of the individual experiencing it, that wealth is the condition of being happy and prosperous. Note, that in its primary meaning, it, wealth, is a human feeling, a feeling of well-being; in its secondary meaning it connotes things in which material riches consist, goods and/or possessions. While it is by no means beyond controversy, it is in this last sense, the same sense taken by Henry George, that the "science" of economics takes its meaning of the word, wealth; viz., most economists use the word as a collective term for those things, the abundant possession of which, by individuals, constitute the riches and/or prosperity of a community.

But the most fruitful examination of the idea of wealth comes about when one focuses on what John Stuart Mill had to say about the matter (it is always fruitful to look to the writings of John Stuart Mill). Mill defines wealth as all things which possess exchangeable value. The objects which represent wealth need not necessarily be things which in themselves be useful or agreeable to the possessor, as long as the possessor thinks his property are tradeable for such things as those that will bring him direct pleasure, or use; then, for him, such "useless" possessions are wealth. As any study of the notion will show, certain things can only have wealth to its possessor, such as those things which are gratuitously afforded by nature.18

"Wealth, then, may be defined, as all useful or agreeable things which possess exchangeable value; or in other words, all useful or agreeable things except those which can be obtained, in the quantity desired, without labour or sacrifice.
... To an individual, anything is wealth, which, though useless in itself, enables him to claim from others a part of their stock of things useful or pleasant." (Mill.)19

"The purpose of government," as Thomas Jefferson said, "is to allow for the preservation of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."20 (Note the use of the words "allow" and "pursuit.") Government cannot give life, it cannot give liberty, and it cannot give happiness; it can only take such things away. Liberty, or freedom, is a topic which arises in any discussion concerning government; and it arises, not because government can contribute to freedom, in any way, but rather because government invariably, due to its very nature, encroaches on freedom. Government is to be treated as a trained guard dog, to be led out into the crowd by its handlers under strict control and sharp command. Usually the mere presence of Government power is enough to remind people to leave the liberty of others alone so that each person, unfettered in any way except by proper law, through individual choice, might create wealth; and to use it or preserve it, as they should choose. Only the individual, each in his own way, can create wealth; and by individuals doing this does the wealth of the nation come about. Wealth thus comes about because people have the freedom to choose, in every instance, what they individually calculate is best for them; the trillions of individual decisions that freely occur every day in our economy is what keeps us all going. To maintain an environment in which exchanges between people, within the law, voluntarily occur: this, -- if the goal is to increase the store of wealth in the country -- is the sole function of government. It is there to punish the citizen who encroaches on the freedom of another, government's role is as a referee, it must stay clear of the play; it must leave the business of creating wealth to those who can do it, to those that can only do it, to those outside of government. Government cannot create wealth it can only destroy it.

"The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, ... that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his or her will, is to prevent harm to others." (Mill, On Liberty, 1859.)

"If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. This principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups." (Bastiat, The Law, 1850.)

Some among us have the notion that government fulfills a need of human society for a "directive apparatus." We do not need government for this reason. Assuming puny men could figure out how to construct such an apparatus, the cost would be immense; and what for, the whole event happens automatically. Society is quite capable of running itself and as the beating of a heart, and just as essential, no thought need be given to the topic. Production and distribution of all valuable goods and services in society are ultimately brought on by and through the voluntary co-operation of most everyone; we do it through the operation of contract, a most powerful legal concept. "Demand and supply, and the desire of each man to gain a living by supplying the needs of his fellows, spontaneously evolve that wonderful system whereby a great city has its food daily ... in multitudinous varieties ... while the quantities of the numerous commodities required daily in each locality are adjusted without any other agency than the pursuit of profit."21

In dealing with the question, viz., what is the purpose of government, I am obliged to point out its loftiest duty: and that is to instill, primarily by example, the great personal virtues that need to be prevalent in the huge herd that is to be governed; necessary not only so we can all get along better with one another, but, primarily, -- and here I refer directly to the Confucian notion of good government22 -- so as to make the governed follow its legitimate directives, willingly and without the expense and destruction of compulsive government force. The muck and mire in which an over-extended government invariably finds itself is hardly conducive to the exercise of this lofty duty of setting a good example. An over-extended government is invariably obliged to resort to the use of force.

Authority intoxicates,
And makes mere sots of magistrates;
The fumes of it invade the brain,
And make men giddy, proud, and vain ...:
By this the fool commands the wise,
The noble with the base complies,
The sot assumes the rule of wit,
And cowards make the brave submit.
(Hudibras, Butler, 1680.)

"... he who wields it [power] is often but the puppet of circumstances, like the fly on the wheel that said, "What a dust we raise!" It is easier to ruin a kingdom and aggrandize one's own pride and prejudices than to set up a greengrocer's stall. An idiot or a madman may do this at any time, whose word is law, and whose nod is fate. Nay, he whose look is obedience, and who understands the silent wishes of the great, nay easily trample on the necks and tread out the liberties of a mighty nation ..." (William Hazlitt.)23

Power is an odious thing, we generally can smell it a long way off; those who wield it are automatically disliked. Our personal level of contentment, and therefore, I imagine the general level of contentment in society, is directly proportionate to the number of those who exert power over us. For this reason alone there would be good reason to severely limit the power of government. But there are much better reasons, and, at any rate, I run ahead of myself.

What is power? In its simplest definition, power is the ability to act upon a person and make them do something. Power, as Locke explained,24 is twofold: it can either be active or be passive. It is active when one exercises power by the threat of using force, or of the actual use of force. However, one may get another to do something, not through force; but, rather, through argument, by reason and by example. One uses passive power to get another to do something because ultimately it is in the best interest of the doer, himself, to do or not to do something: this is passive power. One uses passive power to show another that to take or to refrain from a certain action will ultimately advance the welfare of the person to whom the explicit or implicit request is being made. An exercise of passive power comes about when the doer is convinced without the threat or the application of force. Passive power is continually exercised by all of us, every day; we, to one degree or another, continually exercise power over ourselves and over all of our acquaintances. Passive power is asserted and met without any interference in the liberty of anyone, otherwise it would not be passive power. Passive power is the peaceful manner in which humans have evolved and by which they continue to sustain their lives. However, active power is another matter. The fundamental law is that no one may use active power except only in the defense of his person, his family and his property; and it is this power that we delegate to government, for its use, almost exclusively. Government is to use the threat of force or actual force, strictly, and only against those in the community who have chosen to break the law, criminal law, as carefully and as fully defined as is possible.

As a civilized society we are obliged to proceed on this basis: that which "cannot be compassed by reason, wisdom and discretion" is something that is outside the law (Montaigne). Government has a right to use force against those who are outside the law. The only moral (and practical) object in the use of force, generally, is to use it as a defense against one who is using it offensively, or it is apprehended that they are immediately about to do so: it is an individual's right to meet force with force. Each one of us, according to the teachings of Locke has this right. This right is impliedly granted to government, however, it is a reversionary right. If government uses it in any way other than in a defensive way: government, by Lockian theory, loses the right to use force; it loses its legitimate power.

In all of this we cannot lose sight of the purpose of government, a topic with which I had previously dealt. Let me, in my reminder, once again, resort to the "Philosopher of Freedom," John Locke. I quote from his Second Treatise:

"The great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. ... Men when they enter into society give up ... liberty [of a kind] ... yet it being only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself, his liberty and property, [the power thus conferred] can never be supposed to extend farther than the common good, but is obliged to secure everyone's property... [This power] is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects... To this end it is that men give up all their natural power to the society they enter into, and the community put the legislative power into such hands as they think fit, with this trust, that they shall be governed by declared laws, or else their peace, quiet, and property will still be at the same uncertainty as it was in the state of Nature.
It cannot be supposed that they should intend, had they a power so to do, to give any one or more an absolute arbitrary power over their persons and estates, and put a force into the magistrate's hand to execute his unlimited will arbitrarily upon them; this were to put themselves into a worse condition than the state of Nature, wherein they had a liberty to defend their right against the injuries of others, and were upon equal terms of force to maintain it, whether invaded by a single man or many in combination. Whereas by supposing they have given up themselves to the absolute arbitrary power and will of a legislator, they have disarmed themselves, and armed him to make a prey of them when he pleases.
It is true governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit every one who enjoys his share of the protection should pay out of his estate his proportion for the maintenance of it. But still it must be with his own consent -- i.e., the consent of the majority, giving it either by themselves or their representatives chosen by them; for if any one shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the people by his own authority, and without such consent of the people, he thereby invades the fundamental law of property, and subverts the end of government. For what property have I in that which another may by right take when he pleases to himself?" (Locke, Two Treatises of Government, 1690.)

The most serious problem with power, to which Lord Acton referred, and which is quite separate from the aggravation of dealing with besotted magistrates: is that it corrupts.25 Read history and one will see that it is the rare leader who did not become corrupted.26 Trust in God, or trust in professionalism; neither will help. Put the best possible person in charge and often what one will end up with is the worst possible problem. There is a Latin proverb which I ran across in one of my law books and which covers the situation: Optima corrupta pessima (The best things, corrupted, become the worst). Given the choice, then, the best thing, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out, is to "guard against corruption and tyranny ... before they shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered."27 This, dear reader, is a separate and a distinct argument for keeping government down to the barest of minimums.

In any analysis of governmental power, the question soon comes to mind -- How is it, that government can maintain its power? How is it, as David Hume observed, "the many are governed by the few?"28

"The slaves of custom and established mode,
With pack horse constancy, we keep the road
Crooked or straight, through quags or thorny dells,
True to the jingling of our leader's bells."
(Tirocinium, Cowper.)

"The power of the state comes out from the willingness of the people to obey, - Why do they obey, and at what point will they not obey? It was Hume who expressed surprise of the easiness with which "the many are governed by the few"; those who govern have the force of opinion on their side, forget whether the opinion is right or wrong." (Edmund Burke.)

Why people obey government, and often obey government to the point of ruin, -- is a puzzling question. It may be simply a mystery; which we will assign simply to the powerful workings of custom and the mesmerizing effect of the "jingling bells" of the demigods -- who knows? There is little evidence that the crowd, the mob, the great unwashed,29 has any political sense of things. Legal scholars have this idea that people follow government because, to do so, is constitutionally correct, -- never mind that the mass of people have no conscience thought about the process, at all; government has authority because, as we have seen, the people voluntarily give (in a constructive sense) this limited authority to government. This authority is not permanently given, it is but lent, and the grant and its limits are to be found in the country's constitution, something each country has, whether it is written down somewhere or not.

So, it is the country's constitution from which the government takes its power. It uses its constitutional power to make laws and to enforce them. A government cannot ever exceed the authority granted to it by the constitution. A constitution by its very nature will limit the authority of government, -- at least to this extent: government in its law making function can make no law which has the effect of abrogating natural law; and government, at all times, must put itself under the rule of law.

The subject of legal philosophy is a subject for old men at law schools, and, if you have come this far with me, I do not want to lose you now; but, for any thinking citizen, some basic concepts must be considered.

First off, let me quickly touch on the Rule of Law: The law, whatever that maybe, is there for all to obey, including those in government. The rule of law is a doctrine which is derived from theories of natural law (the next following subject). In English law, the rule of law is a concept which has been used as a mechanism to control government power; it is a tool used exclusively by the courts.

And now, more generally we ask, "What is the law." It has been, and continues to be, a much studied subject, but a quick, short and authoritative definition is this: law is "a rule of conduct imposed by authority." Normally, we think of this authority to be a person or persons, but it need not be. There do exist laws of an unearthly authority; laws which one might attribute to God, or more simply to nature. These laws exist entirely independent of man; they were around before man came on the scene and will be around long after he takes his ignoble exit. "That part of God's Law which bindes alwayes, bound before it was written and that is the law of nature." (John Donne.) I write of scientific laws, such as those that were discovered by the likes of Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, etc. From brilliant human minds, through the reasoning process, came descriptions of natural relationships, natural laws.30 Scientists do not create a thing, they describe that which exists. So, a natural law is descriptive, and, I should not have to add, cannot be broken by man. The fact is that natural law, to the extent possible, must be brought into account for all calculations; one must proceed in harmony with it or suffer the consequences. Natural law has neither been brought into force by human beings, nor can it be enforced by them; it has automatically brought them to the state in which they exist. Now, while natural law is not something that any one of us thinks about too much, we all pretty well live in accordance with it. One must eat to live. One must grow or hunt for food. As part of this process, one must plan ahead and one must work. "Self-preservation is the very first and fundamental law of nature." (Berkeley.)

On the other hand, a prescriptive law is a rule of conduct imposed by the authority of government, a rule which has been decided upon by a human being or human beings; it imposes a relationship that does not naturally exist (otherwise why bother); it is a law that comes purely out of the human imagination; it can never run contrary to a natural law (at least not for long); and, by its nature, can be broken by man. (Examples of prescriptive laws would be those that require that one must stop at a red light, or one must pay taxes.) The outcome in any contest between natural law and prescriptive law is inevitable. The best that can be expected by those who support prescriptive law that runs contra to natural law, is, that the inevitable outcome might be delayed; but, only at a considerable cost, usually in human misery and blood.

Before proceeding: we are obliged, for analytical purposes, to break prescriptive law down into a third level consisting of two categories: restrictive law and positive law. A restrictive law is a law which directs a person or persons not to do something; and positive law is a law that obliges one or more to do something. "Do not litter," is a example of a restrictive law, it always has a negative; this, as opposed to, "Pick up your litter," which, of course, is a example of positive law.

(Canada, as is the case in most all of the countries in the world have taken to passing prescriptive laws, most of it in the worst form, as positive laws. The reasons for this I examine elsewhere. One would think that such a fundamental question as to the type of laws a country is empowered to pass would be covered by its constitution, -- and I would argue that there is little room in the British constitution for positive law [a constitution which, with its common law heritage has been adopted by Canada], an argument that I intend to take up elsewhere -- but, at any rate, our free spending politicians and the social engineers on the payroll have paid little heed to the Canadian constitution, whatever it may be. The fact of the matter is, that, whether in pursuit of constitutional goals, or not, there has been a pouring out from our law making assemblies of prescriptive law in great smothering quantities, particularly, in the last twenty-five years; most all of this legislative law has been in the nature of positive law, made in pursuit of the great delusion, viz., we can cure all the difficulties of mankind by legislation.31 Not only have our "elected representatives," qua legislators, passed, [driven by pressures brought on by all sides] huge volumes of written law, but they have given off this power [as if they can?] to their "unelected" bureaucratic friends who have run with it in great style, loading up on all and sundry, further and much more extensive volumes of governmental regulations. Regulations made by bureaucrats under the authority of a particular act are, neither made openly like acts of the legislature, nor are they published and distributed in the same way. This domain of "government regulations" is a vast area of law, hidden and dangerous. More than enough of it is substantive law, that is law that effects the rights of citizens. Now, mind you, any citizen might, with enough money and perseverance, go up against government, test "a regulation" before a court of law, and, I believe, in the majority of instances, the judge would likely throw the offending regulation out the nearest court window; but the realization of what a judge would likely do with most of their regulations does not deter government bureaucrats from grinding out regulation after regulation, much of it substantive law, much of it harmful to our fundamental rights. As to what kind of laws legislators are allowed by our constitution to pass, is an area, I submit, which desperately needs constitutional protection; for, as we can see from the experience of the last twenty-five years, or so, our trusted leaders, the ones we elected, have exercised little control over themselves and have created a huge economic problem for the country which has caused much greater problems than any of the problems which the legislation was designed to cure.)

How to control or check government power was a question which a Frenchman by the name of Montesquieu pondered back in 1748.32 Montesquieu thought the best way to limit government power is to particularize the power into distinct parishes, and then, in turn, to assign these parishes of power to the appropriate departments of government. This control mechanism recommended by Montesquieu might be best illustrated by the kind of control mechanism that exist in the control of nuclear missiles. My understanding of it is that no one person can launch such a missile. There are, I believe, three responsible persons each equipped with a key, each duty bound to check the "codes" before personally inserting and turning the key. Montesquieu, and the political thinkers who followed him (noteworthy are the framers of the American constitution of 1787), were anxious to see the existence of a controlling apparatus, so that raw government power should not fall into the hands of a power hungry individual or group of power hungry individuals. Government was to be broken down into three functions: executive, legislative, and judicial. A member of the government in one of these functions has full power but only within his appointed function. One department (legislative) is to make the laws, another (executive) is to run the country under the laws and another (judicial) is to enforce the laws against all. It is a fine idea, and we can see the trappings of it in most governments that exist in the world today. What needs to be asked is whether it functions as it was imagined it might. This is a topic which I cannot examine here at this place, but there are a number of questions to ask, including what impact the party system has on the separation of powers?

Having determined that we need government, it follows, government must have the authority to make laws, and the power to enforce them. Being that "every law is an infraction of liberty,"33 it follows that the mere existence of government is an infraction on the liberty of those to be governed. The degree of encroachment of our freedom (the right to choose) is proportionate to the degree of our suffering in life. The right to choose is a life sustaining right; curtail it and you curtail life. The greater number of laws and the bigger the government: is all the worse for us. It is of extreme importance that we check government and have in mind continually the fact that government takes its authority and power from the citizens, us. This authority and power is usually found to be granted in the constitution of the country. We should, by our constitution, give no more authority and power than what is absolutely necessary to suit our purposes; to achieve our goals.

As we have seen, in our analysis, the reason people band together under government is so that they will not be abused, harmed, injured and/or plundered of their goods by those people, marauders, either from within or without the country, who would run amok without the threat of government force to keep them in check. Government, according to John Locke, will lose its right to exercise its power, however, when government abuses its people worse than any imaginable group of marauders that might be operating in the absence of a government. (At least without government, a person might take steps to deal with marauders, steps a person might not take when of the mistaken view that their interests were being protected by government.) Further, in Lockian theory, if government abuses the exercise of the power given it by the people, why then, the people have a natural right to rebel, as did the people of New England in 1776. A legitimate government, for its continued existence must limit itself to those matters that are common to all the members within the community, and only those matters: for example, matters such as civil and national defence. I fear, that here in Canada, government, on a regular basis now, involves itself in matters that are not common to all the members; but, rather, to particular groups, officially pitting one against the other and justifying their acts of plunder in the name of "social justice," a most ambiguous and obscure expression.

Of course, there are those among us, unfamiliar as they are with history, who still hold leaden socialistic thoughts, who really do believe that the answer to the big government disease is to increase the dose of the big government cure. They have come out and have declared they stand full square for all that which is good and just. These idealists also declare, in the very same breath that realists can have no such notions. They have cast themselves in the role of the deliverer of succor to all those who suffer in mankind. Now, to remedy injustices is an admirable goal, one that any thinking person, I should think, would share; -- but assuming that we will know an injustice when we see one, by what method shall we go about curing it? Shall we commit an injustice with the view to curing an injustice? A person can scarcely be held to be credible when he expresses that he has the ability to see how much effect will follow so much cause when he or she declares that he or she has the ability of dealing with social complexities of an extremely involved kind. But our elected assemblies are full of such people who by their actions profess to have such abilities; or who, and this is likely more the case, are led around by people whom they believe have such astounding abilities. The plain fact is that legislation lets loose additional factors creating, more often than not, further problems, often more serious than the problems it was intended that the legislation should cure. There then follows a compounding effect as the legislators pass more laws with the view to getting at the "legislative mischief" which was set in motion with the earlier legislation. All of this legislation has attending costs, not the least of which is the enormous labor we expend annually on our law making and law enforcing machinery.34 But as serious as this expense is to the economic health of our country, it is not as serious as the additional and axiomatic problem which comes about when there is too much legislation; it brings all law, to an increasing degree, into disrepute. When people have no respect for the law, it matters not how many policemen you have, civilized society breaks down; anarchy will follow.

Thus government puts us all at great peril.35 Government can cause injustices; it can waste valuable resources; it can bring our necessary laws into disrepute; it can lose its authority and let the country fall into anarchy, with the result of much misery and loss of life. All of this cries out for constitutional limits on governmental power. For the protection of all its citizens, government by a country's constitution should be set up along very simple and limited lines, one that can be continuously monitored and automatically checked.

What is needed for a country, for its own protection and for its stable and efficient operation, most everyone will agree, is a strong government; but one which is constitutionally restricted to its proper and very limited role (basically to respond to the criminals who operate both within and from without a country's borders). The passing of laws (legislation), viz., the provision for the use of government force, is also to be constitutionally circumscribed. It is to be abhorred, whenever an individual in society is forced to give in to the desires of those who have set themselves up as knowing, Platonically, what is best for everyone else. The theory that the community is to permit government to use force with a view to uniting all its citizens and by so doing make them share together the benefits which each individually can confer on the community, for the benefit of the community -- while attractive in its statement, is a false theory; it is demonstratively an unworkable theory, which throughout history has been tried in practice, time and time again, and the result is always the same. A totalitarian state emerges and causes immense misery to all within the state. When, in its legislation, in its use of force, government suppresses the welfare of the individual; when its efforts are aimed to foster the attitude that one should not proceed to please oneself, government commits a fatal error in the achievement of its laudable object, the betterment of the whole. The essential problem in proceeding in this manner is that individuals cannot contribute to the whole, indeed will be a drain on the whole, unless they are allowed to be free and productive, that is to say allowed to suit themselves. Human beings are not robots; they did not come to possess the independent spirit, so characteristic of man, by serving others; a person is not a fixed entity; he came about through an evolutionary process; he is a superior being because of the exercise of free choice: and free choice continues to be essential to the individual's life and the life of a civilized community.
NKF, Mas Selamat and Ministers' Salaries - the SHAME of all Singaporeans.
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Green Peas

Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Proper Role of Government

by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson
Former Secretary of Agriculture
[The Eisenhower Administration - ed.]
Published in 1968

Men in the public spotlight constantly are asked to express an opinion on a myriad of government proposals and projects. "What do you think of TVA?" "What is your opinion of Medicare?" How do you feel about Urban Renewal?" The list is endless. All too often, answers to these questions seem to be based, not upon any solid principle, but upon the popularity of the specific government program in question. Seldom are men willing to oppose a popular program if they, themselves, wish to be popular - especially if they seek public office.

Government Should Be Based Upon Sound Principles

Such an approach to vital political questions of the day can only lead to publistions of the day can only lead to public confusion and legislative chaos. Decisions of this nature should be based upon and measured against certain basic principles regarding the proper role of government. If principles are correct, then they can be applied to any specific proposal with confidence.

"Are there not, in reality, underlying, universal principles with reference to which all issues must be resolved whether the society be simple or complex in its mechanical organization? It seems to me we could relieve ourselves of most of the bewilderment which so unsettles and distracts us by subjecting each situation to the simple test of right and wrong. Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complicated. There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires our solution." (Albert E. Bowen, Prophets, Principles and National Survival, P. 21-22)

Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.

The Correct Role Of Government

I should like to outline in clear, concise, and straight-forward terms the political principles to which I subscribe. These are the guidelines which determine, now and in the future, my attitudes and actions toward all domestic proposals and projections and projects of government. These are the principles which, in my opinion, proclaim the proper role of government in the domestic affairs of the nation.

"(I) believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society."

"(I) believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life..."

"(I) believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, which protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience." (D&C 134: 1-2,5)

The Most Important Function Of Government

It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. But, what are those right? And what is their source? Until these questions are answered there is little likelihood that we can correctly determine how government can best secure them. Thomas Paine, back in the days of the American Revolution, explained that:

"Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another... It is impossible t discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man." (P.P.N.S., p. 134)

The great Thomas Jefferson asked:

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?" (Works 8:404; P.P.N.S., p.141)

Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corolla must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (The Law, p.6)

The Real Meaning Of The Separation Of Church And State

I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But I am opposed to the doctrine of separation of church and state as currently interpreted to divorce government from any formal recognition of God. The current trend strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny. If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, then they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations - a throwback to the Feudal System of the Dark Ages. We must ever keep in mind the inspired words of Thomas Jefferson, as found in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." (P.P.N. S., p.519)

Since God created man with certain unalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the non-believer can appreciate the logic of this relationship.

The Source Of Governmental Power

Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "WE THE PEOPLE... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form? A hypothetical question? Yes, indeed! But, it is a question which is vital to an understanding of the principles which underlie the proper function of government.

Of course, as James Madison, sometimes called the Father of the Constitution, said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." (The Federalist, No. 51)

Natural Rights

In a primitive state, there is no doubt that each man would be justified in using force, if necessary, to defend himself against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement of another. This principle was clearly explained by Bastiat:

"Each of us has a natural right - from God - to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is propAnd what is property but and extension of our faculties?" (The Law, p.6)

Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was being spent doing all three - defending themselves, their property and their liberty - in what properly was called the "Lawless West." In order for man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attach and theft, so he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves - nothing more.

Quoting again from Bastiat:

"If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right --its reason for existing, its lawfulness -- is based on individual right." (The Law, p. 6)

So far so good. But now we come to the moment of truth. Suppose pioneer "A" wants another horse for his wagon, He doesn't have the money to buy one, but since pioneer "B" has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor's good fortune, Is he entitled to take his neitake his neighbor's horse? Obviously not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer "B" wishes to keep his property, pioneer "A" has no just claim to it.

If "A" has no proper power to take "B's" property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that "B" give his extra horse to "A", they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have. This important principle was clearly understood and explained by John Locke nearly 300 years ago:

"For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life of property of another." (Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 135; P.P.N.S. p. 93)

The Proper Function Of Government

This means, then, that the proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No mted by man. No man possesses such power to delegate. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

In general terms, therefore, the proper role of government includes such defensive activities, as maintaining national military and local police forces for protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty at the hands of either foreign despots or domestic criminals.

The Powers Of A Proper Government

It also includes those powers necessarily incidental to the protective functions such as:

(1) The maintenance of courts where those charged with crimes may be tried and where disputes between citizens may be impartially settled.

(2) The establishment of a monetary system and a standard of weights and measures so that courts may render money judgments, taxing authorities may levy taxes, and citizens may have a uniform standard to use in their business dealings.

My attitude toward government is succinctly expressed by the following provision taken from the Alabama Constitution:

"That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression." (Art. 1, Sec. 35)

An important test I use in passing judgment upon an act of government is this: If it were up to me as an individual to punish my neighbor for violl to punish my neighbor for violating a given law, would it offend my conscience to do so? Since my conscience will never permit me to physically punish my fellow man unless he has done something evil, or unless he has failed to do something which

I have a moral right to require of him to do, I will never knowingly authorize my agent, the government to do this on my behalf. I realize that when I give my consent to the adoption of a law, I specifically instruct the police - the government - to take either the life, liberty, or property of anyone who disobeys that law. Furthermore, I tell them that if anyone resists the enforcement of the law, they are to use any means necessary - yes, even putting the lawbreaker to death or putting him in jail - to overcome such resistance. These are extreme measures but unless laws are enforced, anarchy results. As John Locke explained many years ago:

"The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is no law; and is not, as we are told, 'a liberty for every man to do what he lists.' For who could be free, when every other man's humour might domineer over him? But a liberty to dispose and order freely as he lists his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property within erty within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own."
(Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 57: P>P>N>S., p.101)

I believe we Americans should use extreme care before lending our support to any proposed government program. We should fully recognize that government is no plaything. As George Washington warned, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!" (The Red Carpet, p.142) It is an instrument of force and unless our conscience is clear that we would not hesitate to put a man to death, put him in jail or forcibly deprive him of his property for failing to obey a given law, we should oppose it.

The Constitution Of The United States

Another standard I use in deterring what law is good and what is bad is the Constitution of the United States. I regard this inspired document as a solemn agreement between the citizens of this nation which every officer of government is under a sacred duty to obey. As Washington stated so clearly in his immortal Farewell Address:

"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. - But the constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory udly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government." (P.P.N.S., p. 542)

I am especially mindful that the Constitution provides that the great bulk of the legitimate activities of government are to be carried out at the state or local level. This is the only way in which the principle of "self-government" can be made effective. As James Madison said before the adoption of the Constitution, " (We) rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government." (Federalist, No.39; P.P.N.S., p. 128) Thomas Jefferson made this interesting observation: "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." (Works 8:3; P.P.N.S., p. 128)

The Value Of Local Government

It is a firm principle that the smallest or lowest level that can possibly undertake the task is the one that should do so. First, the community or city. If the city cannot handle it, then the county. Next, the state; and only if no smaller unit can possible do the job should the federal government be considered. This is merely the application to the field of politics of that wise and time-tested principle of never asking a larger gr a larger group to do that which can be done by a smaller group. And so far as government is concerned the smaller the unit and the closer it is to the people, the easier it is to guide it, to keep it solvent and to keep our freedom. Thomas Jefferson understood this principle very well and explained it this way:

"The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body." (Works 6:543; P.P.N.S., p. 125)

It is well to remember that the states of this republic created the Federal Government. The Federal Government did not create the states.

Things The Government Should Not Do

A category of government activity which, today, not only requires the closest scrutiny, but which also poses a grave danger to our continued freedom, is the activity NOT within the proper sphere of government. No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare programs, schemes for re-distributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.

To be sure, there are times when this principle of the proper role of government is most annoying and inconvenient. If I could only FORCE the ignorant to provided for themselves, or the selfish to be generous with their wealth! But if we permit government to manufacture its own authority out of thin air, and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Beyond that point, where shall the line be drawn? Who is to say "this far, but no farther?" What clear PRINCIPLE will stay the hand of government from reaching farther and yet farther into our daily lives? We shouldn't forget the wise words of President Grover Cleveland that "... though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people." (P.P.N.S., p.345) We should also remember, as Frederic Bastiat reminded us, that "Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in." (THE LAW, p. 30; P.P.N.S., p. 350)

The Dividing Line Between Proper And Improper Government['b]

As Bastiat pointed out over a hundred years ago, once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth and providing so-called "benefits" for some of its citizens, it then becomes a means for what he accurately described as legalized plunder. It becomes a lever of unlimited power which is the sought-after prize of unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to control the machine to fatten his own pockets or to benefit its favorite charities - all with the other fellow's money, of course. (THE LAW, 1850, reprinted by the Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-On-Hudson, N.Y.)

[b]The Nature Of Legal Plunder

Listen to Bastiat's explanation of this "legal plunder." "When a portion of wealth is tranferred from the person who owns it - without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud - to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed!

"How is the legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime..." (THE LAW, p. 21, 26; P.P.N.S., p. 377)

As Bastiat observed, and as history has proven, each class or special interest group competes with the others to throw the lever of governmental power in their favor, or at least to immunize itself against the effects of a previous thrust. Labor gets a minimum wage, so agriculture seeks a price support. Consumers demand price controls, and industry gets protective tariffs. In the end, no one is much further ahead, and everyone sufffers the burdens of a gigantic bureaucracy and a loss of personal freedom. With each group out to get its share of the spoils, such governments historically have mushroomed into total welfare states. Once the process begins, once the principle of the protective function of government gives way to the aggressive or redistribute function, then forces are set in motion that drive the nation toward totalitarianism. "It is impossible," Bastiat correctly observed, "to introduce into society... a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." (THE LAW, p. 12)

Government Cannot Create Wealth

Students of history know that no government in the history of mankind has ever created any wealth. People who work create wealth. James R. Evans, in his inspiring book, "The Glorious Quest" gives this simple illustration of legalized plunder:

"Assume, for example, that we were farmers, and that we received a letter from the government telling us that we were going to get a thousand dollars this year for plowed up acreage. But rather than the normal method of collection, we were to take this letter and collect $69.71 from Bill Brown, at such and such an address, and $82.47 from Henry Jones, $59.80 from a Bill Smith, and so on down the line; that these men would make up our farm subsidy. "Neither you nor I, nor would 99 percent of the farmers, walk up and ring a man's doorbell, hold out a hand and say, 'Give me what you've earned even though I have not.' We simply wouldn't do it because we would be facing directly the violation of a moral law, 'Thou shalt not steal.' In short, we would be held accountable for our actions."

The free creative energy of this choice nation "created more than 50% of all the world's products and possessions in the short span of 160 years. The only imperfection in the system is the imperfection in man himself." The last paragraph in this remarkable Evans book - which I commend to all - reads:

"No historian of the future will ever be able to prove that the ideas of individual liberty practiced in the United States of America were a failure. He may be able to prove that we were not yet worthy of them. The choice is ours." (Charles Hallberg and Co., 116 West Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60610)

The Basic Error Of Marxism

According to Marxist doctrine, a human being is primarily an economic creature. In other words, his material well-being is all important; his privacy and his freedom are strictly secondary. The Soviet constitution reflects this philosophy in its emphasis on security: food, clothing, housing, medical care - the same things that might be considered in a jail. The basic concept is that the government has full responsibinsidered in a jail. The basic concept is that the government has full responsibility for the welfare of the people and , in order to discharge that responsibility, must assume control of all their activities. It is significant that in actuality the Russian people have few of the rights supposedly "guaranteed" to them in their constitution, while the American people have them in abundance even though they are not guaranteed. The reason, of course, is that material gain and economic security simply cannot be guaranteed by any government. They are the result and reward of hard work and industrious production. Unless the people bake one loaf of bread for each citizen, the government cannot guarantee that each will have one loaf to eat. Constitutions can be written, laws can be passed and imperial decrees can be issued, but unless the bread is produced, it can never be distributed.

The Real Cause Of American Prosperity

Why, then, do Americans bake more bread, manufacture more shoes and assemble more TV sets than Russians do? They do so precisely because our government does NOT guarantee these things. If it did, there would be so many accompanying taxes, controls, regulations and political manipulations that the productive genius that is America's would soon be reduced to the floundering level of waste and inefficiency now found behind the Iron Curtain.

As Henry David Thoreau explained:

"This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. IT does not educate. THE CHARACTER INHERENT IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAS DONE ALL THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED; AND IT WOULD HAVE DONE SOMEWHAT MORE, IF THE GOVERNMMENT HAD NOT SOMETIMES GO IN ITS WAY. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it." (Quoted by Clarence B. Carson, THE AMERICAN TRADITION, p. 100; P.P.S.N., p.171)

In 1801 Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, said:

"With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens - a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it had earned." (Works 8:3)

A Formula For Prosperity

The principle behind this American philosophy can be reduced to a rather simple formula:

Economic security for all is impossible without widespread abundance. Abundance is impossible without industrious and efficient production. Such production is impossible without energetic, willing and eager labor. This is not possible without incentive.

Of all forms of incentive - the freedom to attain a reward for one's labors is the most sustaining for most people. Sometimes called THE PROFIT MOTIVE, it is simply the right to plan and to earn and to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This profit motive DIMINISHES as government controls, regulations and taxes INCREASE to deny the fruits of success to those who produce. Therefore, any attempt THROUGH GOVERNMENTAL INTERVENTION to redistribute the material rewards of labor can only result in the eventual destruction of the productive base of society, without which real abundance and security for more than the ruling elite is quite impossible.

An Example Of The Consequences Of Disregarding These Principles

We have before us currently a sad example of what happens to a nation which ignores these principles. Former FBI agent, Dan Smoot, succinctly pointed this out on his broadcast number 649, dated January 29, 1968, as follows:

"England was killed by an idea: the idea that the weak, indolent and profligate must be supported by the strong, industrious, and frugal - to the degree that tax-consumers will have a living standard comparable to that of taxpayers; the idea that government exists for the purpose of plundering those who work to give the product of their labor to those who do not work. The economic and social cannibalism produced by this communist-socialist idea will destroy any society which adopts it and clings to it as a basic principle - ANY society."

The Power Of True Liberty From Improper Governmental Interference

Nearly two hundred years ago, Adam Smith, the Englishman, who understood these principles very well, published his great book, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, which contains this statement:

"The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security, is so powerful a principle, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations; though the effect of these obstructions is always more or less either to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security." (Vol. 2, Book 4, Chapt. 5, p. 126)

But What About The Needy?

On the surface this may sound heartless and insensitive to the needs of those less fortunate individuals who are found in any society, no matter how affluent. "What about the lame, the sick and the destitute? Is an often-voice question. Most other countries in the world have attempted to use the power of government to meet this need. Yet, in every case, the improvement has been marginal at best and has resulted in the long run creating more misery, more poverty, and certainly less freedom than when government first stepped in. As Henry Grady Weaver wrote, in his excellent book,


"Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own....THE HARM DONE BE ORDINARY CRIMINALS, MURDERES, GANGSTERS, AND THIEVES IS NEGLIGIBLE IN COMPARISON WITH THE AGONY INFLICTED UPON HUMAN BEINGS BY THE PROFESSIONAL 'DO-GOODERS', who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others - with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means." (p. 40-1; P.P.N.S., p. 313)

The Better Way

By comparison, America traditionally has followed Jefferson's advice of relying on individual action and charity. The result is that the United States has fewer cases of genuine hardship per capita than any other country in the entire world or throughout all history. Even during the depression of the 1930's, Americans ate and lived better than most people in other countries do today.

What Is Wrong With A "Little" Socialism?

In reply to the argument that a little bit of socialism is good so long as it doesn't go too far, it is tempting to say that, in like fashion, just a little bit of theft or a little bit of cancer is all right, too! History proves that the growth of the welfare state is difficult to check before it comes to its full flower of dictatorship. But let us hope that this time around, the trend can be reversed. If not then we will see the inevitability of complete socialism, probably within our lifetime.

Three Reasons American Need Not Fall For Socialist Deceptions

Three factors may make a difference. First, there is sufficient historical knowledge of the failures of socialism and of the past mistakes of previous civilizations. Secondly, there are modern means of rapid communications to transmit these lessons of history to a large literate population. And thirdly, there is a growing number of dedicated men and women who, at great personal sacrifice, are actively working to promote a wider appreciation of these concepted men and women who, at great personal sacrifice, are actively working to promote a wider appreciation of these concepts. The timely joining together of these three factors may make it entirely possible for us to reverse the trend.

How Can Present Socialistic Trends Be Reversed?

This brings up the next question: How is it possible to cut out the various welfare-state features of our government which have already fastened themselves like cancer cells onto the body politic? Isn't drastic surgery already necessary, and can it be performed without endangering the patient? In answer, it is obvious that drastic measures ARE called for. No half-way or compromise actions will suffice. Like all surgery, it will not be without discomfort and perhaps even some scar tissue for a long time to come. But it must be done if the patient is to be saved, and it can be done without undue risk.

Obviously, not all welfare-state programs currently in force can be dropped simultaneously without causing tremendous economic and social upheaval. To try to do so would be like finding oneself at the controls of a hijacked airplane and attempting to return it by simply cutting off the engines in flight. It must be flown back, flown back, lowered in altitude, gradually reduced in speed and brought in for a smooth landing. Translated into practical terms, this means that the first step toward restoring the limited concept of government should be to freeze all welfare-state programs at their present level, making sure that no new ones are added. The next step would be to allow all present programs to run out their term with absolutely no renewal. The third step would involve the gradual phasing-out of those programs which are indefinite in their term. In my opinion, the bulk of the transition could be accomplished within a ten-year period and virtually completed within twenty years. Congress would serve as the initiator of this phase-out program, and the President would act as the executive in accordance with traditional constitutional procedures.

Summary Thus Far

As I summarize what I have attempted to cover, try to visualize the structural relationship between the six vital concepts that have made America the envy of the world. I have reference to the foundation of the Divine Origin of Rights; Limited Government; the pillars of economic Freedom and Personal Freedom, which result in Abundance; followed by Security and the Pursuit of Happiness.

America was built upon a firm foundation and created over many years from the bottom up. Other nations, impatient to acquire equal abundance, security and pursuit of happiness, rush headlong sh headlong into that final phase of construction without building adequate foundations or supporting pillars. Their efforts are futile. And, even in our country, there are those who think that, because we now have the good things in life, we can afford to dispense with the foundations which have made them possible. They want to remove any recognition of God from governmental institutions, They want to expand the scope and reach of government which will undermine and erode our economic and personal freedoms. The abundance which is ours, the carefree existence which we have come to accept as a matter of course, CAN BE TOPPLED BY THESE FOOLISH EXPERIMENTERS AND POWER SEEKERS. By the grace of God, and with His help, we shall fence them off from the foundations of our liberty, and then begin our task of repair and construction.

As a conclusion to this discussion, I present a declaration of principles which have recently been prepared by a few American patriots, and to which I wholeheartedly subscribe.

Fifteen Principles Which Make For Good And Proper Government

As an Independent American for constitutional government I declare that:

(1) I believe that no people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded upon faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law.

(2) I believe that God has endowed men with certain unalienable rights as set forth in the Declaratioth in the Declaration of Independence and that no legislature and no majority, however great, may morally limit or destroy these; that the sole function of government is to protect life, liberty, and property and anything more than this is usurpation and oppression.

(3) I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the States of this nation which all officers of government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish.

(4) I believe it a violation of the Constitution for government to deprive the individual of either life, liberty, or property except for these purposes:

(a) Punish crime and provide for the administration of justice;

(b) Protect the right and control of private property;

(c) Wage defensive war and provide for the nation's defense;

(d) Compel each one who enjoys the protection of government to bear his fair share of the burden of performing the above functions.

(5) I hold that the Constitution denies government the power to take from the individual either his life, liberty, or property except in accordance with moral law; that the same moral law which governs the actions of men when acting alone is also applicable when they act in concert with others; that no citizen or group of citizens has any right to direct their agent, the government to perform any act which would be evil or offensive to the conscience if that citizen were performing the act himself outside the framework of government.

(6) I am hereby resolved that under no circumstances shall the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights be infringed. In particular I am opposed to any attempt on the part of the Federal Government to deny the people their right to bear arms, to worship and pray when and where they choose, or to own and control private property.

(7) I consider ourselves at war with international Communism which is committed to the destruction of our government, our right of property, and our freedom; that it is treason as defined by the Constitution to give aid and comfort to this implacable enemy.

(Cool I am unalterable opposed to Socialism, either in whole or in part, and regard it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of the right of private property for government to own or operate the means of producing and distributing goods and services in competition with private enterprise, or to regiment owners in the legitimate use of private property.

(9) I maintain that every person who enjoys the protection of his life, liberty, and property should bear his fair share of the cost of government in providing that protection; that the elementary priing that protection; that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform and that each person's property or income be taxed at the same rate.

(10) I believe in honest money, the gold and silver coinage of the Constitution, and a circulation medium convertible into such money without loss. I regard it as a flagrant violation of the explicit provisions of the Constitution for the Federal Government to make it a criminal offense to use gold or silver coin as legal tender or to use irredeemable paper money.

(11) I believe that each State is sovereign in performing those functions reserved to it by the Constitution and it is destructive of our federal system and the right of self-government guaranteed under the Constitution for the Federal Government to regulate or control the States in performing their functions or to engage in performing such functions itself.

(12) I consider it a violation of the Constitution for the Federal Government to levy taxes for the support of state or local government; that no State or local government can accept funds from the Federal and remain independent in performing its functions, nor can the citizens exercise their rights of self-government under such conditions.

(13) I deem it a violation of the right of private property guaranteed under the Constitution for the Federal Government to forcibly deprive the citizens of this nation of their nation of their property through taxation or otherwise, and make a gift thereof to foreign governments or their citizens.

(14) I believe that no treaty or agreement with other countries should deprive our citizens of rights guaranteed them by the Constitution.

(15) I consider it a direct violation of the obligation imposed upon it by the Constitution for the Federal Government to dismantle or weaken our military establishment below that point required for the protection of the States against invasion, or to surrender or commit our men, arms, or money to the control of foreign ore world organizations of governments. These things I believe to be the proper role of government.

We have strayed far afield. We must return to basic concepts and principles - to eternal verities. There is no other way. The storm signals are up. They are clear and ominous.

As Americans - citizens of the greatest nation under Heaven - we face difficult days. Never since the days of the Civil War - 100 years ago - has this choice nation faced such a crisis.

In closing I wish to refer you to the words of the patriot Thomas Paine, whose writings helped so much to stir into a flaming spirit the smoldering embers of patriotism during the days of the American Revolution:

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the servisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial and article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated." (THE POLITICAL WORKS OF THOMAS PAINE, p.55.)

I intend to keep fighting. My personal attitude is one of resolution - not resignation.

I have faith in the American people. I pray that we will never do anything that will jeopardize in any manner our priceless heritage. If we live and work so as to enjoy the approbation of a Divine Providence, we cannot fail. Without that help we cannot long endure.

All Right-Thinking Americans Should Now Take Their Stand

So I urge all Americans to put their courage to the test. Be firm in our conviction that our cause is just. Reaffirm our faith in all things for which true Americans have always stood.

I urge all Americans to arouse themselves and stay aroused. We must not make any further concessions to communism at home or abroad. We do not need to. We should oppose communism from our position of strength for we are not weak.

There is much work to be done. The time is short. Let us begin - in earnest - now and may God bless our efforts, I humbly pray.

The End
NKF, Mas Selamat and Ministers' Salaries - the SHAME of all Singaporeans.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Most Honourable Mr Redbean,

Can you please make this thread as a "sticky" please.

I feel very strongly that we need to educate our people on this topic.

I will keep updating and fill in more and more data, info and references.

I believe we need to remind some people all the time about their role
and responsibilities to the citizens, otherwise they will conveniently
forget about it totally, once drunk with power and in their pursuit
of wealth, fame, status and selfish personal gains.

Thanks in advance.

Green Peas.
NKF, Mas Selamat and Ministers' Salaries - the SHAME of all Singaporeans.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK let me try. This is like going through PS 101 again. But it makes good reading for those who have not read political science in school.

what i posted is just my personal view. feel free to disagree.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right to know or right not to know?

We have heard the huge losses of Temasek's investment, all $58b! Now, don't ever poof poof this as small change. It is a very huge sum of money.

What about GIC? How much has it lost? Rumours and speculations are that it has lost more than $100b! Given the $550b portfolio that it was managing then, it is unlikely that it can escape the meltdown with less than 30% loss.

Do the citizens have the right to know how much we have lost? Or shall this be kept under veil in the name of secrecy or professional expediency? Is it acceptable not to tell the people how much we have lost?

Is this the people's money? If so, can we ask and be told of the real numbers? Or shall we be complacent and just trust that the money is in good hands?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A team of rivals

This was the main theme of an article by ST’s China Bureau Chief, Peh Shing Huei on Saturday. He was referring to the Obama Administration which is made up of both the Democrats and Republicans, some from the George Bush Administration. This rival mix in politics is gaining popularity out of necessity and expediency. China has started this trend after Deng Xiaoping’s successors took over the leadership. The current Thai govt is also a gathering of a mixed bag of politicians. And so is the State Governments in Malaysia. In fact UMNO is also an alliance of convenience among the communal parties.

Singapore’s history also took off with a team of rivals, the left wing Barisan Socialis and the right wing or socialist PAP. But the marriage of convenience was shortlived and the Barisan Socialis MPs were either imprisoned or fled the country.

I wanted to ask if such a marriage of convenience is possible or workable for the long term good of the component members and the country today. The answer is quite obvious. It cannot be and will only lead to one party swallowing the other or running down the weaker party. Politics has never been a pleasant tea party of friends but of vicious politicians trying to out manouvre each other with the winner takes all before the party is over. It was never meant to be a game for ladies and gentlemen but for schemers and cunningness to fix up or destroy the enemy at all cost.

Have things changed? Has the world changed or the people changed to such an extent that the thought of partying with the rivals is now relevant and a necessity? Would we see the different political parties coming together after a general election as national leaders sitting in Parliament to agree and also to disagree without trying to take a swipe at each other at every opportunity? Looking at the ethics and temperaments of politicians, we are still a long way off.

We may be emulating the Americans in many things. But the new trend of embracing rival politicians like what Obama is doing is the furthest thing that will be copied here. The medieval rules of the survival of the ruthless, and the destruction of every opponent in the way, will still be the political ethos and morality of politics here.

Am I wrong?
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Working is a crime!

The officer was in hot pursuit of an illegal worker. He fell, picked himself up immediately and continued the chase. The culprit was arrested. Such is the drive, dedication and commitment of a well trained team of MOM officers in the call of duty. They have a job to do and they did well. Efficiency in the line of duty is hallmark in all civil servants. And one should not forget the exemplary efficiency and effectiveness of our car park attendants. They never miss issuing a ticket if it is deserving.

What am I grumbling about? The illegal immigrants were not selling pirated VCDs or operating a gambling den or prostituting. Many were just moonlighting as cleaners and odd job labourers. They were prepared to sweat, work hard, to exchange their labour for a few dollars. Why are they turned into criminals, chased around by govt officers, arrested, fined and maybe even caned?

Yes, they are criminals. The law said so. No permit to work is a crime. Period.

What about the employers who employed them and exploited them for their cheap labour? Why were they not arrested? Would it not be easier to arrest the employers and terminate this vicious cycle when hungry men and women are turned into criminals just because they want to work?

Oh, these are children of lesser gods.

Just a general comment.

The law is neutral and has no feelings, and inhuman at times. And the law is the law. The issue is the zealousness in the execution and persecuting of the violaters. I would be more at ease if public officers, in the course of their duties, think a little about rights and wrongs, about being humans, about justice and fairness, about righteousness and moral principles. If public officers cannot think or will not think, and leave morals and principles in their lockers, govts will be better off deploying a task force of Robocops, machines that just do within thinking, with no morals, no feelings and no moral principles.

I am saying this in general. This sickness is affecting govt officers all around the world, and particularly so in dictatorship or authoritarian regimes. And worst of all, the biggest violators of such inhuman acts is the US. There, children of lesser gods have no rights, and are treated as collateral damages.

The hideous acts of public officers when they abused their positions of power are more criminal than the crimes committed by criminals. Sad thing is that they did not think so and think that it is their job, in the course of duty,something to be proud of. A couple of days back there was this woman in China who had her 4 front teeth knocked out by public officers just for protesting about a crime or injustice done to her. Sometimes you would not know who are the real gangsters. I always call George Bush and his team gangsters.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Criticism of Public Order Act 2009

Why so many criticisms against the Public Order Act? The law is for the good of the people, to protect the people. Singaporeans should welcome more of such laws that are good for them, ala GST. When things are done for the good of the people the people should be happy and accept them with open arms. Criticisms of good acts and intention are misplaced.

My only concern is that what if these good laws were abused by a rogue govt or rogue enforcers of the law? Yes, Sylvia Lim is right on this, that it can become draconian. But with good leaders in charge, everything will be fine. Let's pray that we will forever be blessed with good leaders.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From George Yeo’s blog entry:

Up on the 12th floor, I could see the red shirts milling around the conference centre, moving hither thither. Soldiers and policemen stood in groups not really engaging them. Not long afterwards, I could hear helicopters whirring overhead picking up people from the rooftop. Out at sea, naval ships on patrol moved closer to shore and small boats also picked up passengers.

PM was told by the Thai Government that he and the Singapore delegation should evacuate by sea, to be ferried by small boats to a nearby LST which would take us to Sattahip naval base. From there we could drive to U-Tapao. It all seemed quite unseemly to me that leaders and ministers had to leave in this way. But anyway we packed our belongings and waited for instructions since the Thais were responsible for our security. Happily we were informed around 3.30pm that the demonstrators had dispersed and we could travel by road to U-Tapao with full dignity.

Wonder how would George Yeo instruct the Singapore soldiers to enage
her citizens if it was Singapore ?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kan Seng has spoken

The police will be tough on protestors, local or foreign, who are bent to create civil disobedience. This is a warning to all who are thinking of creating trouble in the coming major events in the city state.

Actually things will be much easier if a chip can be developed and implanted into every resident and visitors here. The chip can then be monitored and tracked by a master computer and linked to satellite technology. The movement of everyone will be known, who they met and where they are meeting will be totally transparent.

The chips shall also have the capacity to immobilise the tagged person by the master controller when appropriate. A smarter chip can actually have programmes that can read the person's mind and any evil or criminal thought detected will trigger the chip to immobilise him. A team can then be sent out to pick him up.

When such a chip and system are ready, the whole world will be a very peaceful and orderly place. Human beans can look forward to a safe and secure future.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

50th Year:
An apathetic people
Affluent, educated, yes - but we've also become a dispassionate people with little interest in politics and the government; it augurs ill for nation-building. By Seah Chiang Nee.
June 6, 2009

The above article is posted in I would like to modify that statement a little by looking at it positively. A dispassionate people with little interest in politics and the govt augurs well for a paternalistic govt that would want to dominate over the people, controlled them and make all the decisions for them. It also augurs well for the preservation of a single dominant party and hinders the political maturity of a people. It will always be the govt and the people on two sides, the governed and the being governed.

Is this good? I never believe that nurtured or cultured greenhouse plants can withstand the elements when the roof collapses. They need a sheltered environment and artificial fertilisers to grow well.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A proactive and caring govt - A big thank you

In the 60s and 70s, most of the population were living in wooden huts, squatters and cubicles in the city. Then came the govt to the rescue. They built cheap and affordable HDB flats at less than $10k in Queenstown for the people. When the people get richer in the 70s/80s, the govt started to build better and bigger flats, 5rm, executive and HUDC flats for the people.

Then came 90s, people getting more prosperous. And the govt was pleased. They started to build condominiums for the people. All still quite affordable.

Now comes 2000s, what happens, flats are now too expensive. People cannot afford to buy bigger flats. So comes the proactive and caring govt. It starts to build smaller flats, 2/3 rms and even 1 rm rental flats.

The people are so lucky. They can always downgrade. Always a roof of their choice to befit their pocket. Very affordable.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Revamping the financial system

Chok Tong talked about the changes in the financial industry and the fear of unscrupulous or toxic products. Investors are returning to basics, looking for smaller but steadier gains like bonds, govt bonds, not any cheap bonds. With all the cheats and thiefs exposed, and the American govt watching them like a hawk, hopefully they will not be allowed to design another batch of fraudulent products to cheat the masses. All the sins and crimes orginated from the US though they were brushed aside as something of lesser evil. Evil they were.

So, how would all these white collar cheats and crimes affect us? Today we read in the ST that SGX needs to compete for IPOs. We either compete for good IPOs or be content with sub standard companies that ended up as another bunch of frauds. The confidence among our investors have also been hurt badly by all these fly by night companies. Many have been suspended due to frauds that were dressed up as pristine companies with great growth potentials. And the parties involved in the dressing ups, making all the fees, are still at large, laughing all the way to the banks. This is only one aspect of the financial systems that need to be placed under the microscope.

The other are the practices adopted by big funds that capitalised on their muscle and technology to exploit the system to their advantage, often leading to the destruction of values of stocks. Dubious trading strategies and methodologies that are contrary to the well being of stocks and the stock market must not be allowed to be practised in our stockmarket. The gains of a little clearing fee and the fictitious churning to give the impression that the market is alive and healthy is not worth it for the huge losses incurred by innocent and small investors.

There is a need to revamp the way the stock market is operating.
what i posted is just my personal view. feel free to disagree.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HDB, what are you doing?

I totally disagree with the new HDB policies on housing as formulated by Mah Bow Tan. HDB as a public housing scheme, is to provide a roof to all citizens of the country. If it wants to provide housing to PRs, that is a separate issue but should not compromise the needs of the citizens.

And the policy of not providing for everyone who needs a flat is not what a govt should do to its citizens. With the clever scheme of BTO, there is this additional need to plan and apply 3 years ahead for a flat which I feel is unfriendly to the citizens who need a flat urgently for one reason or another. Not everyone has the luxury of planning 3 years ahead.

A little over supply is not a waste when the interests of the citizens is concerned. HDB is not any commercial property developer. It should aim to provide a roof for all citizens when they need it at as low a price as possible without making a loss. Public housing is for that roof over the head, not for speculation. Govt policies should not encourage people to speculate on the sole property they own. Speculation can lead to big profits and also big losses.

Let the rich speculate all they want in the private property market. Don't mix the sheep with the wolves.
what i posted is just my personal view. feel free to disagree.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blind to our own destruction

The green movement is gathering steam to warn the human specie that they will destroy themselves in their folly to exploit mother earth to its fullest. By employing technology and the cunning of the human mind, they harvest the land, farm the sea and eat up everything beyond their replacement rate. We burn and consume so much natural resources and fossil fuel that the temperature will become too high to sustain many life forms. But this road to our self destruction will have many more years to go.

The fastest and shortest road is to destroy the world economic and financial system. We have been warned. It is so easy when we are blind to our greed. When everyone is singing, Greed is Good, and believing in it, and participating in the ripoff, the very people who are there to manage this insatiable appetite, become part of the marauding party, we are doomed. We will not learn as long as the benefits to the few cheats and swinders are shared among the leaders. All will party at the expense of the small guys, the losers, so they called them.

It is pointless for the small guys to kpkb, useless, no one will listen to such foolishness in the wilderness. Let me bring in the big guns. I was reading Paul Krugman's article in the ST this morning, The only good news is at Goldman Sachs, he said. The writing is on the wall. Yes we will commit the same sins again and again. And the regulators will join in and say good, go ahead.

Goldman Sachs is making a lot of money again and is going to shower its employees, especially the top manager, with tons of money, just like yesterday. They will pat their backs again and said how clever. But that is not the problem. The problem is how they make the money, in Krugman's words, 'financial firms...directed vast quantitites of capital into the construction of unsaleable houses and empty shopping malls. They increased risk rather than reducing it, and concentrated risk rather than spreading it. In effect, the industry was selling dangerous patent medicine to gullible consumers....

While other banks invested heavily in...toxic waste...selling to the public at large...Goldman ... made a lot of money selling securities backed by subprime mortgages - then made a lot more money by selling mortgage-backed securities short, just before their value crashed...

All of this was perfectly legal, but the net effect was that Goldman made profits by playing the rest of us for suckers.

And Wall Streeters have every incentive to keep playing that kind of game.'

This modus operandi is not confined to just selling toxic products. The stock markets are operated under very similar principles. The big funds, with the help of technology, managing information, will sell down stocks and force out the small and weak investors before buying back at rock bottom prices, at any opportunity or negative news, real or imagery. Then they will buy back frantically and unload at much higher levels to the same suckers. And all this time the fundamentals of the stocks remain unchanged.

The process is repeated every other day. And the regulators of stock exchanges knew what was going on, all perfectly legal. And they have vested interest to keep playing the game or let the game go on.'

The excuse is caveat emptor as long as there is no blood on the streets. As long as there is no mass protest like the toxic bonds, the game will be legal. When greed rules the head, greed is good. Selling snake oil is fine as long as the few will amass a fortune from it and the suckers continue to pay willingly. There is no qualms and no need for moral responsibility.

The chase for rapid economic growth, the high property prices and the property game, all falls into the same modus operandi. Create demand to drive up prices when there is no need to, but for the greed of profits or economic numbers.
what i posted is just my personal view. feel free to disagree.
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