This is Part 2 of the series. In part 1 I promised to correct an erroneous belief about the dangerously powerful. Here it is, continuing to excerpt from my book, Freedom or Serfdom? The Case for Limited, Constitutional Government and Against Statism:
Statists claim, without evidence, that corporations and the wealthy are dangerously powerful. They never mention the most powerful entity of all: the federal government. If we really want freedom we must limit that government power. Statists want to go the opposite direction. They propose a transfer of power from individuals and businesses to a monopolistic government. That is a change not just in location, but in the very nature of power. No corporation can force people to obey its edicts, but the humblest government bureau can do just that. And the bureaucracy has no competition.
You don't like General Motors cars? Fine, buy a Ford, a Dodge or a Toyota. In fact, you need not buy a car at all. But what if you don't like the type of baby crib that the Consumer Product Safety Commission approves? Tough, nothing else is available. Or you don't like your local school system? At least you are allowed to send your children to private school – but in most cases you must still pay the government school, just as though you were sending your children there.
The power of government is inherently different from what any corporation or other private entity can have. It is a concentrated power, with no competition. Even if that government is not run by demagogues, it will have power over our lives that corporations can only dream of. The exception is the crony capitalists, those corporations in alliance with government and which get their power from government. For example, many insurance companies expect to gain more customers as Obamacare forces people to buy insurance. Such abuses will increase as government power increases. The potential damage is unlimited.
Our Defense Against the NefariousWhat can we do about it? There are two defenses. First, we must jealously defend constitutional, limited government. Limiting government power will limit the damage any demagogue can do. Second, we must carefully examine political candidates and reject the demagogues and the power hungry. That last may be difficult; often we face an unhappy choice between two statists. Sometimes we have to hold our noses and vote for the lesser of evils.
And we must stay in contact with our representatives. They want to get re-elected; they will pay attention if the voters demand it. One state senator gave some friends of mine a lesson on that fact. They had been in the state capital testifying against a bill. After hours of that, the senator finally took pity on them. She took them aside and said in effect, “You need to understand that we don't care about your charts and statistics. What we care about is getting re-elected.”
If we make it clear to politicians that their re-election depends on defending freedom, they will respond. As described in Chapter 10, we must maintain our Constitution by constant vigilance, and by keeping our representatives on a short leash.
The first line of defense is keeping demagogues out of office. The second is constant oversight of our hired help.
In the next part of this series, we'll look at how demagogues work and how we can keep them out of power.