The following stems from a debate with sean samis at this post, YOU DON’T THINK THE NEWS MEDIA TRIES TO LEAD US AROUND BY THE NOSE?.
Some government is a necessity. Any people that does not feel safe in their person, liberty, and property is harried and poor. That’s why even a bad government is usually better than no government at all. Nonetheless, too much government is an awful problem. Here is why.
According to Milton Friedman, there are only 4 ways to spend money.
- You spend your own money on yourself. You care the most about how much you spend and what you buy.
- You spend your own money on someone else. You care about what you spend but you don’t care as much about what you buy.
- You spend someone else’s money on yourself. You don’t care as much about the money as you do to make sure you buy something nice for yourself.
- You spend someone else’s money on someone else. You care the least about how much you spend and what you buy.
The forth way to spend money is the least responsible way. You care the least because you don’t have a vested interest in either what you get or what it costs. The fourth method of spending is government entitlement spending. Controlled by people who really don’t have much of an interest in making sure the money is spent wisely.
The first way is the best for everyone. The first way has you actually spending your own money. Milton is trying to say, get more money in people’s hands because they will spend it the wisest. (from here)
Politicians live to spend other people’s money on other people. Friedman generously assumed politicians have the best of intentions, but as he observed, spending money that way is inefficient. Even we do not regard the moral implications as important, we still have a good reason to avoid the waste that comes from letting politicians spend our money for us.
So what must government do? We have to have government to resolve civil disputes, fight crime, and deal with rogue nations. At the same time, we must be wary of the pitfalls.
- Civil disputes can involve anything from eminent domain matters to a property dispute between two individuals. Example pitfall: Because it seems like a good way to solve the eminent domain problem, we put government in charge of road construction and maintenance. Unfortunately, we have gone too far. We now give up our money before we even have a road. So we end up paying for roads we will never use. Because we have been too generous with our money, politicians now feel free to buy roads for other people with our money.
- Criminal matters can range from murder to fraud. Example pitfall: If you are a lawmaker, you can make laws for “other people” and exempt yourself from the law. You can then do what for others would be a crime. Thus, Congress exempted from insider trading laws. Then some congressmen used their insider knowledge to profit on Wall Street (from here, here and here).
- What dealing with rogue nations involves is preparing for war and fighting wars. What sustains a first-class military force is the high moral integrity of the people it defends. Example pitfall: Because it buys them more political influence, politicians prefer to spend other people’s money on other people. That is because welfare and entitlements allow politicians to buy our votes with “other people’s money.” Unfortunately, welfare and entitlements are not just a waste of money; welfare and entitlements also threatens the moral integrity of our people. When a people becomes sufficiently decadent, they become unwilling to pay for or serve in the military that defends them.
Check out the Federal Budget. Only about 24 percent goes to defense.