Monday, June 11, 2007

No one should have this much power

G8 leaders pledge $60 billion for Aid to Africa

Looking at these pictures, of the G8 leaders after they pledged to give $60 BILLION in aid to Africa, it struck me how ridiculous it is for a group of ordinary people -and they are ordinary, just like you and me- to be given so much power over so many people. What gives them the right to decide for hundreds of millions of people how their money is to be spent? Is it necessary for philanthropy to be delegated to a small group of individuals to decide for everyone else how to donate to various charitable causes? It makes absolutely no sense to me and I hope other people wake up and realize it as well.

Let's take the example of the United States. George Bush was elected by maybe 50 million people. The other 250 million didn't vote for him. Now George Bush is given power to tax all 300 million American citizens, then spend that money in whichever way he thinks seems fit for 4 years. Why is this in any way acceptable?

Government and political leaders are necessary, I agree. We need some sort of administrator to handle issues where government is necessary, namely national defence, and criminal justice. But philanthropy? Say for example that the 50 million people who voted for Bush were completely OK with the president giving hundreds of their tax dollars to African nations for their aid, what about the other 250 million people? Are we supposed to accept unnecessary coersion if the cause is good? That is a slippery slope to socialism, i.e. the erosion of individual liberty and dignity. Each person, I believe, needs to maintain as much control over their own life and wealth as possible. If the 50 million people who voted for Bush wanted to give hundreds of their tax dollars to Bush to give to Africa, they could just donate it themselves directly. There is no need for a government leader to decide for everyone how much of their money should go to foreign aid.

Reading about this, I am reminded of Ron Paul's piece on the glorification of political power. I think the $60 billion G8 pledge brings the truth of his words to light:

Political Power and the Rule of Law

by Ron Paul

With the elections over and the 110th Congress settling in, the media have been reporting ad nauseam about who has assumed new political power in Washington. We're subjected to breathless reports about emerging power brokers in Congress; how so-and-so is now the powerful chair of an important committee; how certain candidates are amassing power for the 2008 elections, and so on. Nobody questions this use of the word "power," or considers its connotations. It's simply assumed, in Washington and the mainstream media, that political power is proper and inevitable.

The problem is that politicians are not supposed to have power over us – we're supposed to be free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence of government coercion. So when politicians and the media celebrate political power, they really are celebrating the power of certain individuals to use coercive state force.

Remember that one's relationship with the state is never voluntary. Every government edict, policy, regulation, court decision, and law ultimately is backed up by force, in the form of police, guns, and jails. That is why political power must be fiercely constrained by the American people.

The desire for power over other human beings is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn! The 20th century's worst tyrants were political figures, men who fanatically sought power over others through the apparatus of the state. They wielded that power absolutely, without regard for the rule of law.

Our constitutional system, by contrast, was designed to restrain political power and place limits on the size and scope of government. It is this system, the rule of law, which we should celebrate – not political victories.

Political power is not like the power possessed by those who otherwise obtain fame and fortune. After all, even the wealthiest individual cannot force anyone to buy a particular good or service; even the most famous celebrities cannot force anyone to pay attention to them. It is only when elites become politically connected that they begin to impose their views on all of us.

In a free society, government is restrained – and therefore political power is less important. I believe the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else. In other words, the state as referee rather than an active participant in our society.

Those who hold political power, however, would lose their status in a society with truly limited government. It simply would not matter much who occupied various political posts, since their ability to tax, spend, and regulate would be severely curtailed. This is why champions of political power promote an activist government that involves itself in every area of our lives from cradle to grave. They gain popular support by promising voters that government will take care of everyone, while the media shower them with praise for their bold vision.

Political power is inherently dangerous in a free society: it threatens the rule of law, and thus threatens our fundamental freedoms. Those who understand this should object whenever political power is glorified.

February 6, 2007

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

The U.S. constitution states that before a president takes office he must make the following oath:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

That is the sole purpose of the office of president.

-November 18th addendum-

Here is a video of Ron Paul's speech condemning the Glorification of Political Power:

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