Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Unlimited Limited Government

One thing that bothers me about the idea of limited government is how unlimited it is. After all the acknowledged illegitimate departments are eliminated, what's left? Only the IRS (perhaps under another name), the police/courts/prison complex, and the military. Lovers of liberty are supposed to be comforted by that program? Those are the three most threatening parts of the state -- and they are left standing! (Minarchists may object that I assume the taxman won't face unemployment, but have no doubts about this. A monopoly state without the power to tax is as imaginable as a square circle.) I'd feel much better if all that remained were the department of motor vehicles and the bureau of weights and measures.

Minarchists may try to reassure us that the remaining departments will be strictly limited by a constitution. To evaluate that claim, consult the Public Choice literature and the work of Anthony de Jasay. Also American history.


Shane Skekel said...

Mr. Richman,
I was wondering if you have looked into John F Kennedy before the '63 assassination, or any of the following:
Former LA congressman and Governor Edwin Edwards, along with his father Eli and their sycophants.
Huey P. and Earl K. Long
Former Baton Rouge state senator Cleo Fields
The late Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee
The Landrieus
St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Lester Millet
The Louisiana District Attorneys' Association
The Morials
Bobby Jindal
David Vitter
John Breaux
The New Orleans City Council
Ouachita Corrections Center Warden Patrick Johnson
Congressman turned Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy
TV host Jeff Crouere
Col Rob Maness
James Bernazzani
Jim Letten
Marlon Guzman and Charles Foti
The Orleans Parish Council

Sheldon Richman said...

I'm familiar with some of these. What do you mean "looked into"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon,

All governments are limited in the sense that they have finite resources available for plunder; and that, if this plunder becomes too severe, the people may revolt. However, no government, as traditionally defined, can be legally limited. Legally limited government is impossible both in theory and in practice.
The “right” to possess a “monopoly on the use of legal force” as claimed by every government, “limited” or not, extends to the judgment of it’s own actions relative to the “law”. This necessarily means that all governments exist, by definition, outside of, and above, the law.

Today, we are taught that “democracy” and the “separation of powers” serve as external checks on the power of government. However, the exact opposite is true. “Democracy” is perhaps the greatest scam ever invented to support the interests of those who wield political power. Notice that “we” are never allowed to vote on whether the monopoly power of government should exist, but only on who is allowed to wield it. As one anarchist wag put it, “have you ever noticed that in an election, no matter who loses, the government always wins”? The purpose of “democracy” is to legitimize the power of government, not to check it.

The “separation of powers”, especially the supposed “independence” of the Supreme Court, is a similar scam. Like "democracy" the actual purpose of the Supreme Court is to legitimize the power of government, not to check it. The Supreme Court is part of the Federal government. Justices are typically chosen from a pool of government lawyers who have displayed a lifetime of fealty to the interests of government. They are nominated by a president who has no interest in seating someone who is hostile to the exercise of executive power. They are confirmed by Senators who have no interest in seating someone who is hostile to the exercise of legislative power. In short, if the purpose of the Supreme Court is to check the power of government, then the institution, and its’ members, are uniquely unqualified for the job.

To illustrate the absurdity of the proposition that law can limit government, let’s apply the same reasoning to the private sphere. Imagine that Goldman Sachs set up an internal ethics division that was charged with ruling on the legality of the actions of Goldman Sachs. Let’s suppose that the members of this ethics division were nominated by the CEO of Goldman Sachs and confirmed by the board of directors of Goldman Sachs. Let’s further suppose that they receive their pay from Goldman Sachs. Finally, let’s suppose that this division of Goldman Sachs claims a monopoly on judging the legality of the actions of Goldman Sachs.

Is it conceivable that the CEO of Goldman Sachs would nominate a “justice” hostile to the interests of Goldman Sachs? Is it believable that the board of directors would confirm a “justice” hostile to the interests of Goldman Sachs? Does anyone seriously believe that such an institution could be trusted to limit the power of Goldman Sachs?

Yet, this is precisely what we are told to believe with respect to government.

So, yes, legally limited government is impossible. The choice is not between anarchy and “limited” government, but between anarchy and totalitarian government. Every government seeks to become more totalitarian. Smart governments expand their power gradually, slowly acclimating the people to accept greater and greater levels of government control.

This process of totalitarianism is taking place at a noticeably accelerating rate in America. Those who do not recognize this, and think that government can be limited by government itself, are deeply deluded.

Jeremy Parfitt (with some editorial suggestions from TOR)