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6. Can You Believe It?

Wherever you may be on the planet, the political power holders are almost certainly telling you that everything is going to be all right as long as they get to keep holding the controls. They will be taking credit for anything that is functioning well in society and putting blame elsewhere for whatever is going wrong. Of course, they are sure that their policies and programmes will soon bring about full employment, a roof over every head, honest and responsible politicians and public servants, improved health, reduced taxation and less crime on our streets.

Do you believe them? Do you truly believe that the problems facing society will be sorted out when the right man or party gets into power, and that some new rearrangement of the controls will properly 'tune' the economic climate and bring about all the benefits promised by that man or party? Or do you, like most people interested in the process, think primarily in terms of which party or person is the lesser evil, sometimes even overriding that simple logic in order to punish the party that is currently IN power.

You should think about these questions more deeply than you are accustomed to, since, if you are the average citizen of a 'developed' nation, about half of your working life and productivity* is devoted to supporting the proposition that some day the state will get it all miraculously right, will cease being a burden on the back of society and will become a true servant of our society, rather than a Frankenstein-type creation to be milked by politicians, manipulated by special interest groups, lobbied by big business and courted for supplies by war makers around the world, to mention but a few of its major functions.

* Total taxation on the wealth society creates in any given year ranges from 40-60% in most developed countries, and has done nothing but grow since the beginning of this century. Add up the import duties, excise taxes (petrol, tobacco, alcohol, etc.), National Insurance, income tax, corporation tax, Value Added Tax, business rates, council tax , capital gains tax, death duties - they all come out of society's pockets one way or another. For the several centuries prior to World War 1 this total taxation was closer to the 10% mark.

Do not believe them. The larger any state becomes the greater a burden it becomes to society as a whole. It used to be less common for both partners in a relationship to need wage-earning jobs when taxation was half or less today's level. The evidence indicates that the more money the state spends on any particular problem, the worse it is likely to become over the long term. The more determined the efforts they make to control crime and disorder, the more holes appear in the moral fabric of society.

When so much of our behaviour is legislated, we can easily forget the meaning of personal responsibility and risk confusing morality with sticking to the regulations. Stringent controls applied to force one element of the economic structure into 'control' usually create worse ramifications in other elements of that complex structure. And the ultimate solution, the totalitarian state, creates a mirror image of order through absolute control whilst building up the steam for an eventual collapse or explosion into gross disorder.
That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves."

Thomas Jefferson
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From the book "Uncommon Sense - The State is Out of Date"
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